Starting Now: AACN’s 2023 Theme

Jul 01, 2022

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May 2022 marked our first in-person National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (NTI) in three years. The pandemic forced the cancellation of NTI 2020, and NTI 2021 was all virtual. AACN President Amanda Bettencourt acknowledged that the past two-plus years have been challenging and exhausting, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“As we try to sort out our COVID experiences without letting them paralyze us, it might feel like we’ve been wandering inside a dark cave for the past two years. But, it’s actually a tunnel. And we are on our way out of it,” says Bettencourt, as she revealed AACN’s theme for 2022-2023 – Starting Now – during her live NTI keynote address.

Bettencourt praised the value and use of stories throughout NTI 2022 and shared her own challenging tale from her early days as a charge nurse, which became the inspiration for our Starting Now theme. While feeling powerless in the wake of a late-night policy fail that traumatized not only a young patient and that patient’s family, but also Bettencourt and her team, a colleague helped her find light in that dark time, to uncover hope and start on a new path.

At the start of her next shift, Bettencourt recalled, a senior leader thankfully knew just how to coach her back into the light, throwing her a curve that would change her career. The leader asked her, “If you could change anything about the previous night, what it would be?” And in that moment, she was transformed from feeling like a paralyzed victim to being empowered. Bettencourt suggested how the policy could be changed and, after some doing, it happened.

“Most of all,” Bettencourt says, “it taught me what author James R. Sherman says: ‘You can’t go back and make a new start, but you can start right now and make a brand-new ending.’”

Rebooting ourselves for a new AACN year, we will start now with renewed hope. Because hope transforms. We can break new ground. And, along the way, let’s be prepared to ruffle some feathers. We will do this together. We are not alone. And we will do it Starting Now.

Amanda Bettencourt

That experience changed Bettencourt and helped set her career on a new course. Today, Bettencourt believes there can be a brand-new ending to our recent challenges.

“Starting Now, we all can become bold and tireless advocates for doing the next right thing. Where do we advocate? Everywhere. In our communities. In public and private forums. In social media and traditional media. With our family, neighbors and friends. And, most importantly, we need to advocate among ourselves, because sacrificing our own well-being benefits no one.”

Although the new theme is aspirational, it is also grounded in reality and recognizes the harrowing true stories that nurses have endured the past few years. That connection to our authentic stories is reflected in the new theme art, as images of nurses highlight and anchor the colorful art.

The original art designed by Canadian artist Helen D'Souza illustrates the essence of this year's theme.

We are happy to provide the theme artwork for your use. Here are some suggestions for integrating the theme into your daily work:

  • Ponder the artwork to decide how it relates to your interpretation of this year's theme. Discuss its meaning with your colleagues and co-workers.
  • Use it on printed material such as newsletters, flyers, posters, handouts and announcements.
  • Use PowerPoint templates for internal presentations, such as those that promote your chapter/institution's meetings and events.
  • Use approved theme art products from the AACN Store to generate revenue for your chapter.

Please be advised that the theme art:

  • Must always appear in its entirety and not be modified or altered in any way.
  • May be used to promote local chapter events and activities.
  • May be used in social media in a posting but not as an identifier for a chapter, institution or individual (e.g., "profile picture" or "cover photo" on Facebook).
  • May not be imprinted on any item (T-shirt, hat, mug, etc.) that will be sold.

To download the artwork, right click on a link, choose "Save Target As ..." and save to your computer.

2023 Theme Graphic - Chapters
2023 Theme Poster - Large
2023 Theme Poster - Small
2023 Theme PowerPoint Template

Please contact the Experience Design team with questions.