Now is the time to grow your political leadership skills as a nurse. Regardless of your position — bedside nurse, nurse manager, health educator, or patient — you have the power to advocate on behalf of yourself, your co-workers, and the entire community. Governmental decision makers at every level want and need your expertise as a healthcare professional and nursing champion.
By communicating on a regular basis and taking a non-adversarial approach, you can in turn influence lawmakers to become champions for a safe and healthy work environment that meets the needs of both patients and staff.
How? First of all, through the power of your own personal story. Cold hard facts and statistics won’t go as far as a personal narrative in helping elected officials to see how their decisions affect our healthcare system. Reach deep to gather examples and anecdotes from your own experiences in the workplace. Be specific and explain how detrimental funding cuts and legislation lead to overcrowded hospitals, nurse shortages, and endangered patients, for instance.
Local chapters of your minority nursing association or the American Nurses Association (ANA) can help you become a more effective advocate. For example, with advocacy messaging. They may have ideas on how to frame the discussion about proposed legislation and how it could affect hospitals and other healthcare organizations in your home state.
For advocacy tools, visit the ANA website.
In future blog posts, look for more details about advancing nursing’s agenda in spite of the sometimes daunting realities of the healthcare political landscape. Advocacy topics will include tips for communicating with the media, including examples of letters to the editor and other highly effective ways to get the word out about your cause.
Whether you know it or not, you can make your voice heard at the local level, state level, or even federal level. Remember: stay focused on the nursing issues at hand; you can disagree with lawmakers without being disagreeable. Then when the time comes that legislators step forward to support nurses and healthcare, be ready to give them the kudos they deserve!
Jebra Turner is a healthcare journalist based in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at www.jebra.com