AAHFN: The Only Organization Dedicated to Nurses Caring for Patients with Heart Failure

Ashley Moore, MSN, APRN, ANP-BC, AAHFN Board Member, and Sue Wingate, RN, PhD, CRNP, AAHFN President
Ashley Moore, MSN, APRN, ANP-BC, AAHFN Board Member, and Sue Wingate, RN, PhD, CRNP, AAHFN President
In 2004, a huge unmet need existed — nurses lacked a professional network to address their need for ongoing education, support, and collaboration in the care of patients with heart failure. Thus was born the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses (AAHFN), an organization dedicated to uniting professionals, patients, and families in the support and advancement of heart failure practice, education, and research. We currently have 1,700 members and are growing quickly! Approximately five million people in the U.S. are currently living with heart failure, with estimates of that number growing to 10 million by the year 2040. This number will continue to grow as the population ages, even though treatment increasingly improves short-term outcomes for patients with acute coronary events. Since heart failure is the final common pathway for all cardiovascular diseases, heart failure nurses can be found anywhere patients with cardiovascular disease receive treatment. Examples include hospitals, emergency rooms, outpatient clinics, skilled nursing facilities, electrophysiology and cardiac cath labs, arrhythmia and device clinics, home care programs, and hospices. Although the primary focus and training of these nurses may not be in heart failure, they are all heart failure nurses and play an important role in these patients’ lives. Therefore, in order to improve quality of life and outcomes for patients, it is important for HF nurses to stay abreast of the most recent treatment strategies in this patient opulation, regardless of their working environment. The AAHFN is the only professional association dedicated to nurses who work with heart failure patients. The AAHFN provides networking opportunities to connect with other nurses in similar settings in the U.S. and internationally. In addition to networking, there are a number of other benefits of AAHFN membership: ∙ Continuing education programs both online and in person; ∙ Subscription to our quarterly newsletter, The Connection, which covers a different topic related to heart failure in each issue; ∙ Access to an informative Web site, which includes a members only” message board that is invaluable for networking with colleagues. This message board provides a forum for members to discuss nursing practice, heart failure order sets, diuretic protocols, quality of life measures, admission/discharge criteria, reimbursement issues, computer-based documentation, core measures, and various other topics; ∙ Access to awards, grants, and scholarships; ∙ Access to the AAHFN online store; and ∙ Savings on registration fees for the annual AAHFN meeting and other symposia. Annual Meeting and Educational Objectives The AAHFN’s annual meeting is held each year on the last weekend in June at various cities throughout the U.S. It is designed to meet the needs of nurses, advanced practice nurses, inpatient nurses, outpatient nurses, home health nurses, cardiac/heart failure administrators, clinical directors, physician assistants, dieticians and other healthcare providers, educators, and researchers interested in heart failure patient care. A variety of educational formats are included that encourage the exchange of new scientific and clinical information and support the interchange of opinions regarding care and management issues relevant to heart failure. Scientific material is presented through symposia, oral abstracts, special interest groups, and poster presentations. Planning is underway for AAHFN’s 5th Annual Meeting, to be held June 25-27, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We are expecting almost 1,000 attendees at this meeting — our biggest attendance ever! AAHFN has also developed the first-ever educational event focused on developing disease management programs for patients with heart failure. “Heart Failure Disease Management: Everything You Wanted to Know But Didn’t Know Where to Ask” is an all-day program that debuted at our 2008 annual meeting. This workshop provided attendees with evidence-based information on the essentials of heart failure disease management, including pathophysiology, pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions, space and personnel requirements, financial issues and marketing ideas. The popularity of this sold-out event has prompted us to develop this program further and present it at various locations throughout the country. Patient Awareness The AAHFN has collaborated on several projects to increase patient awareness and knowledge about heart failure. We collaborated with The Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association and The Society of Chest Pain Centers on an educational campaign entitled “Fight Against Heart Failure.” We also worked with Boston Scientific Inc. on a video entitled “From Victim to Survivor” for heart failure patients and families, and we worked with Medtronic Inc. on a campaign called “Know Your EF” to increase patients’ awareness of the importance of their ejection fraction in the treatment of heart failure. Future Initiatives Looking to the future, AAHFN has developed the following strategic goals: ∙ To be the “go to” organization for information and education for heart failure nurses; ∙ To retain and recruit members who are actively involved with the AAHFN; and ∙ To develop and implement heart failure certification for nurses. As heart failure nurses, we are able to improve patients’ lives, but we need the foundation and resources to do so. The AAHFN is a specialty organization dedicated to advancing nursing education, clinical practice, and research to help nurses achieve the knowledge and ongoing networking needed to provide the highest quality care possible. To become a member of the AAHFN, go to our Web site and apply, or call 1-800-452-2436 for an application to fax or mail. The AAHFN is an invaluable resource that enables nurses to influence the future of heart failure care. For more information, please visit: www.aahfn.org