Health care and the nursing shortage are going to be BIG on the Hot Topics list for the next administration and Congress to discuss this next term....
One of the primary points that I feel very passionate about is that nurses must advocate for themselves, their fellow nurses and their patients. We must have a strong and collective voice. That doesn't mean that we must all have the same voice.
Providing quality patient care means that we often have to be imaginative, inventive and flexible. Home health nurses know that often we have to improvise when we don't have the exact tool that we need to get a job done.
From this we learn to understand that health care is not an exact science and that nurses provide the art of caring along with this knowledge of science. We have a lot of ideas to share and ways to do things much better and more efficiently.
Nurses need to learn to share their ideas and strategies. This is not always comfortable at first, but it can be the most important part of your job. Get involved at your unit level and begin to become part of the brainstorming and planning process. Even if everyone balks at your idea, they may give you constructive criticism about it that allows you to tweak and twist your idea into something that will work.
Nurses also need to get involved in the political process. You don't have to be registered to vote or even a U.S. citizen to discuss your ideas about nursing and health care with legislators.
Many of us feel that our own local legislators are completely out of touch and yet somehow seem to get reelected every time. This can be disheartening and creates a roadblock to the exchange of new, and many times better, ideas. The beauty of the American system is that we aren't restricted to discussing our ideas just with our own representatives.
The are currently 3 nurses in the House of Representatives. (Unfortunately their are none currently in the U.S. Senate.) Two are RNs and one is an LPN. As nurses, we hope that they will be more receptive to listening to nurses. So if you have ideas to share or opinions about legislation to share and think that a fellow nurse may better understand your point of view and support it, then by all means contact one of these three women:
Rep. Lois Capps, for instance, introduced the National Nurse Act (HR 4903) legislation to the 109th Congress in 2006. Each of these three women have introduced and supported many bills in support of health care, patient safety, and the nursing profession.
Get to know your own legislators, and work with these 3 nurses to support more legislation to promote the nursing profession and patient care and safety.