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EDITOR'S NOTE: Eileen Williamson, MSN, RN, is the former senior vice president and chief nurse executive at OnCourse Learning. Williamson continues to write for Nurse.com and serve in an advisory role.
Nursing associations strategize on how to make a big impact
The power we have as nurses and members of our professional nursing associations is clearly exemplified in the work of the Emergency Nurses Association whose members have made positive healthcare changes through legislative action. Focused on emergency nursing, this digital edition provides a perfect opportunity to look at that and at all nurses can accomplish when they work together, especially within their professional organizations. All we need do is seize the power that is ours!
Seize the power
The National Association for Home Care and Hospice have calls to action for membership on their website urging nurses to get involved in lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. The Policy Committee of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses uses its power as a group of nurses to uphold NAHN’s mission and make change by advocating for public policy issues, many of which are listed on the organization’s website. We all know that a nurse can be a change agent, so never stop looking for ways to be one. Ready to graduate or ready to retire, you can have your voice heard. But being part of the collective voice of your professional nursing organization can make it louder.
From our very first days as practicing nurses, and even earlier as nursing students, we learn about the importance of professional organizations and the vital role they can play in our careers. The bonds, connections and opportunities for networking and sharing they provide are as numerous and varied as the more than 100 professional nursing organizations we have nationwide. These organizations teach us how we can grow as professionals in the company of our peers. Some are called organizations or associations; others are known as forums, academies or councils. Some are formed at the local level, others at the state, national or international level. Whether their membership is based on specialty, ethnicity, role, gender or geography, each one brings nurses together. Professional nursing organizations have a special and unique power that members can tap into.
The call to action the Emergency Nurses Association sends its members exemplifies what they believe can happen when they use their power: “Your experience helps ENA be a leading and influential voice on public policy affecting emergency nursing,” according to the ENA website. The association’s activism is proof positive of its voice in nursing. The ENA has set the bar high for themselves and other professional nursing organizations when it comes to taking a leadership role in legislative change that affects healthcare. Think about who we are as nurses, what we do, and the power we have. We are the largest group of healthcare professionals in the nation; our voice is almost 3 million strong. We know the issues that it is through advocacy and action that change can happen. As members of one of our professional nursing organizations, together we can get the job done! We need to be the ones who stand up and speak out — the advocates who call senators and other political representatives, initiate white papers and proposals, write Letters of Intent and get to the decision makers. The good news is many of our nursing organizations are doing all these things.
Declaring 2018 the year of Advocacy, the ANA stated, “As the largest group of health professionals in America, and consistently the highest ranked in terms of ethical behavior by the public,” they say, “nurses are in a unique position to influence the direction of both the profession and healthcare.” Along with the National League for Nursing, the ANA recommends nurses address policy as part of their professional role.”
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing also stands up and speaks out on issues in nursing and healthcare. Julie Sanford, DNS, RN, FAAN, director and professor at James Madison University School of Nursing and a member of AACN’s Government Affairs Committee, testified recently in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions during a hearing titled, “The Healthcare Workforce: Addressing Shortages and Improving Care.”
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“We need to be the ones who stand up and speak out — the advocates who call senators and other political representatives, initiate white papers and proposals, write Letters of Intent and get to the decision makers.”
— Eileen Williamson, MSN, RN
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By Eileen P. Williamson
MSN, RN
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