‘Tis the Season to Advocate!
Spring is busy for many nursing organizations as their members head to their local, state and national government agencies to advocate for the nursing profession. I personally went to Sacramento, California with the California Emergency Nurses Association (Cal ENA) this month to knock on our state legislatures’ doors so that we could voice our concerns about the evolving face of healthcare and what those implications mean for emergency room nurses and the patients that we serve.
Using Our Voices
Nursing is a hard job that leaves many frustrated and burnt out due to the many working and health system conditions that seem so out of nursing control. Nurses can sometimes feel like just a small piece of a giant healthcare machine that is about to run off the rails. However by taking part in nurse advocacy events like Cal ENA's Legislative Day in Sacramento, nurses get an opportunity to meet face-to-face with lawmakers who can make a real difference in how our healthcare system works.
How Do I Become a Nurse Advocate?
First, you need to find a cause that you feel passionate about. Whether it is working to decrease violence in the workplace, implementing nurse-patient ratios or expanding nurse practitioners’ scope of practice, pick a topic that gets you EXCITED. There are multitude of issues that can be supported. Look around. Talk to colleagues. Do some research. Find a cause that speaks to you and gets you fired up.
Next, find a group to advocate with you. Advocacy work can be wildly exciting, but also it can be really hard. You are often in the trenches, knocking on doors, making phone calls, passing out fliers and collecting signatures. It normally takes a very long time to see results. Find a professional or other volunteer group that is working on the same cause as you. These groups help support not only your work, but also help sustain your passion when the going gets tough.
Make some new friends. Frequently organizations that support causes that you are excited about will be filled with like-minded, engaged people. Get to know them! These are people who are supporting the same issues as you. Get their contact info. Make a coffee date. Swap stories. I have made some incredible friends through my work with the Emergency Nurses Association (SHOUTOUT TO MY EASTBAY ENA & CAL ENA FAMILY). You never know who you might meet when working with a new group.
Be an advocate of change. While a lot of advocacy work is small steps to the big goal, know that you are working to make things better. What you say to government representatives at all levels can shape policy and legislation that may have a direct effect on healthcare.
I have said it before, and I’ll say it again. Nursing is hard.
Nursing is hard. It is so easy to get lost in the minutia of healthcare that nurses forget why we ever got into this crazy career in the first place. I find that advocacy work helps re-ground my nursing perspective and helps me remember that nursing is a powerful and meaningful profession. Nurses are regularly rated the most trusted profession in the United States! We need to use that position to advocate for changes that will improve our working conditions and outcomes for our patients. Being a nurse advocate helps me as a nurse, but also as a person.
Remember: What is good for nurses, is good for everyone.
- Sarah @ New Thing Nurse
Here are just a few nurse organizations who have "Advocacy & Policy" platforms -
About the Author - Sarah K. Wells, MSN, RN, CEN, CNL is an educator, speaker, blogger and owner of New Thing Nurse, a professional and academic coaching company for the nursing world. New Thing Nurse is organized to provide support and guidance to aspiring nurses, newly graduated nurses, and veteran RNs looking to make a change in their life.
Whether it’s a new school, new job or new idea,
New Thing Nurse wants to help with your new thing!