Should We or Shouldn’t We

Nurses and Politics: Should We or Shouldn’t We

Smith, Gayla Fay

Should nurses be involved in politic? That is a question most of us don’t want to think about. How many times have you said, “I don’t know anything about politics and don’t want to have anything to do with politics?” I’ve said these words many times in my career. But guess what, even though I had some pretty good ideas about how important nurses were to health care, none of them were ever expressed outside of my group of friends. I grumbled and whined, “those people up there don’t know anything about nursing.” “They have no idea how important good nursing care is to patient outcome.” “They don’t know the conditions I have to work with.” Well, guess what, I had a choice then just as I have a choice now. To continue grumbling and whining, passively dissatisfied, or become active and fight for what 1 believe in. Nurses can make a difference in health care, but it will take all of us actively becoming involved in the political arena.

There are many ways each nurse can be active. Not all of us can go to Montgomery and lobby in the legislature, but we can support the people who do this very important job. We can become active in our Association and let them know how we feel about nursing and nursing care where we work. It just takes our making the decision that we care about the healthcare our patients receive and deciding that we are going to become a true advocate for our patients. Together we can fight for better quality health care, as well as better working conditions for ourselves. But we must stop expecting someone else to do it for us! It’s time for nurses to stand up and let their voice be heard in Montgomery.

So, the answer to the question is Yes, unequivocally Yes, nurses should get involved in politics to improve working conditions and provide patients with quality care.

A great way to start on your personal road to being politically active is to attend the 2003 ASNA Annual Legislative Day on May 8th. Make the decision and fill out the registration form (found on page 10). Join us as nurses stand together to be one strong voice.

by Gayla Fay Smith, RN, MSN, JD

Chair, ASNA Health Policy Committee

Copyright Alabama State Nurses’ Association Mar-May 2003

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