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Contents
Happy Birthday, Nightingale
A special timeline illustrates quite an extraordinary life.
A nod to Nightingale
WHO designates 2020 Year of the Nurse and Midwife.
Smooth care transitions matter
Learn how to avoid readmissions in this free CE course.
Are you an ethics champion?
You are if you promote three core responsibilities.
If Nightingale were alive today
Veterans? The poor? Read about causes she may have championed.
Certification bolsters career
Earning certification can help your nursing salary surge.
DAISY blooms across the globe
The program continues to make its international mark.
Wound care you need to know
Learn how outdated practices can compromise wound treatment.
Letters with lasting impact
Florence's letters reveal what her concerns were back in the day.
Achieve peace of mind
Try meditation and feng shui to take your self-care to a new level.
The cape comes with the job
RNs can’t leap tall buildings, but they show heroism in other ways.
Two minutes with Florence
Nurses share what they would ask Nightingale if they had the chance.
CE: EBP in a clinical setting
Learn how evidence-based practice is a boon for patients.
Make sound ethical choices
Do you know the six key ethical principles that guide decisions?
Celebrate education progress
Nurse education requirements are changing to meet patients' needs.
Manage conflict like a pro
Use these 9 tips to keep the peace at work and at home.
Inspired by Nightingale
An asteroid was named after her! Read more namesake fun facts.
Learning goes beyond school
Communication and leadership can sharpen your nursing prowess.
We celebrate our nurses
Churchill, Twain, Dickens ... Get inspired by our RNs' quote picks.
Nurses and their causes
Nurses are taking the lead as advocates in various settings.
Browse our CE catalog
We have the education modules you need to elevate your career.
Don't wait to say 'thanks!'
Weave regular recognition into your goals. Nurses deserve it.
Celebrating is academic
Faculty and students take part in Nurses Week celebrations.
Life as a nurse attorney
Blogger shares why she became a legal advocate for nurses.
Diversity takes center stage
RNs are improving workforce diversity and cultural competence.
A walk down memory lane
Read how Nurses Week was born out of decades of advocacy.
Self-care feeds good ethics
Find out why RNs should prioritize staying healthy.
Are you satisfied?
Nurses reveal whether their jobs are making them happy.
Help human trafficking victims
Learn to identify and assess victims with this CE course.
Nursing students celebrate, too
Find out how students get inspired on National Student Nurses Day.
Protect your nursing practice
25 legal tools you need to protect your career.
How to Navigate
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Meet 3 nurse advocates
From the Hill to the boardroom, these nurses take their practice to a different level
By
Marcia Frellick
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Marcia Frellick is a freelance writer.
Pushing for change has become such a cornerstone of nursing the American Nurses Association declared a Year of Advocacy to showcase individual and collective efforts at all levels.
“For nurses, every year is a year of advocacy, both at the bedside and beyond,” said Janet Haebler, MSN, RN, ANA’s senior associate director of state government affairs. “As the largest group of health professionals in the U.S. and because they are consistently ranked highest in ethical behavior and honesty, nurses are in a unique position to influence the direction of healthcare.” During the Year of Advocacy in 2018, the ANA educated and inspired nurses about ever-growing opportunities to promote change, she said. That change can come at any level, from an individual practice or community to Capitol Hill.
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Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
Congresswoman
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), poised to begin a 14th term in the state’s 30th congressional district was the first registered nurse elected to Congress in 1992. She had been serving in public office since 1972, when she entered the Texas House of Representatives, following a passion that grew from activism in the Civil Rights Movement, she said. Johnson said nursing and politics require many of the same attributes — patience, listening, mediation and the ability to synthesize large amounts of information. Her training came in handy in trying to gain passage of the Affordable Care Act, she said. A former hospital nurse, Johnson was one of the few people in Congress at the time who was an expert in patient care. “[Congress] had only one other nurse at that time and she was a school nurse,” she said. “I was the only person who had any hospital healthcare delivery experience.” Her service in Congress has stretched beyond healthcare. Johnson has served on committees that consider critical issues in transportation, the environment, technology, science, space and infrastructure.
Among her current advocacy efforts is helping to develop legislation that would build programs to retrain transportation workers who would be displaced as more driverless vehicles come into use.

Also, as Ranking Member on the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Johnson also has introduced legislation to increase participation of women and underrepresented minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers. Johnson specialized in psychiatric nursing and said she calls on those skills often in dealing with people and studying behavior in pushing for issues important to her. Nurses have unique abilities in writing legislation, she said. “Most nurses have to have some knowledge of finance, planning, loyalty, dependability, trustworthiness, initiative and leadership,” Johnson said. “It takes all of that to make a good legislator.” Seniority brings opportunity, she said, but there are still plenty of opportunities for nurses new to advocacy. “It’s not difficult to get involved in advocacy,” she said. “You can write. You can be involved in elections. You can run (for office) yourself. Or you can pick the person you want to represent you and help them and keep your subject matter before them.”
Lynne Meadows, RN
School nurse
Although Lynne Meadows, MSN, RN, has been coordinator for Student Health Services in Fulton County Schools in Atlanta for 18 years, her advocacy spans local, state and national levels. Meadows serves on the National Association of School Nurses’ board of directors. Every winter, school nurse representatives from 50 states gather on Capitol Hill to present to legislators what they believe are the most important issues. For the past few years, the major target of her advocacy has been securing the future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, she said. This year she discussed the issue with the congressional delegation from Georgia. “We were able to bring them real data about what we’re seeing in the schools,” she said. “We’re seeing some of the highest numbers of kids with chronic illnesses as we’ve ever seen before.” That includes everything from allergies to cancer, she said, adding that in her district, 33,000 of 98,000 children have a diagnosed medical condition.
“This year we were thrilled to find out CHIP would be extended 10 years,” she said, adding the news was particularly exciting in Georgia where “We have 1.3 million kids on Medicaid and 200,000 or more take advantage of CHIP.” But that win doesn’t mean a break from advocacy. Already, her next target for action looms and this one is centered in her state. The
proposed budget
for Georgia includes a line item for a more-than $580,000 cuts for school nurses. Because school nurses often work alone in a school, that means entire schools would not have a dedicated school nurse, Meadows said. Meadows, who already has testified before the state appropriations committee, said she questions the use of a formula tied to enrollment to decide the cuts. If a school loses students, the remaining students don’t have any less need for a school nurse, she said. She wants school nurses to know part of the responsibility in advocating is to let people know the value of the role. Consider a school whose nurse notices a student has an unsteady gait. That nurse, who observes the gait as the child walks down the school hallway, may be the only one who notices and the only person who leads that child to a physician’s office. “No one will know the role you played unless you tell them,” Meadows said. “That’s not to pat ourselves on the back, but to share what’s important about the role.” For many children school nurses will be the first line of healthcare providers they see. The days of putting on Band-Aids and sterilizing scrapes are over, she said. In addition to preventive and acute care for children, school nurses also consult with parents to ensure children are getting the proper vaccinations. “All of the nurses on my team have 20-plus years of nursing experience,” she said. “And it takes all of that to manage the kids we see. It’s not like a hospital where you can consult with colleagues. We don’t have that in the education settings.”
Karen Mercereau, RN
Patient advocate
When Karen Mercereau, RN, of Tucson, Ariz., accompanies a patient to a physician’s appointment, she often comes armed with two lists of questions. On one list are questions patients can ask the doctor comfortably, eliciting answers they can understand. The other may contain a list of questions that may take medical knowledge to ask of the physician and then explain to the patient. Mercereau started Tucson-based
RN Patient Advocates
in 2002 to help fill the gaps in help patients need in times of short appointment times, low literacy levels and increasing medical errors. “What we do is connect the dots so everyone knows what everyone is doing,” she said. That can mean making sure medical providers are talking with each other or family members are on the same wavelength or that patients understand their care and their choices. In the case of her company, which hires only those with at least an RN credential, advocates are hired by patients or patients’ family members and provide a clinical focus. They may be hired by adult children who live far away or by a patient or family members who want to make sure they understand the terms of a consent form, for instance. Patient advocates in other segments may be hired by hospitals or insurance companies with different purposes. According to
Cigna
, most hospitals have at least one patient advocate on staff and can help families with any problems a loved one has during a hospital stay. They also can work with a patient’s employer if the person faces possible job discrimination because of medical issues. Advocates also gather information in a patient’s medical records, sometimes going back as far as 20 years to search for information that can help enhance a care plan. Mercereau’s company can plot out trends on a graph from those records, such as complete blood counts and lipid and metabolic profiles. “Doctors don’t have all the right information,” she said. “Medical records are scattered everywhere.” Their ultimate goal, Mercereau said, is to educate and support patients and give them the tools they need to help them engage in their own healthcare so that they are confident and knowledgeable in asking the right questions and making the right choices for themselves. “We are the educators, the communicators and the connectors,” she said.