Two years ago a Gallop poll asked 1500 thought leaders across the country which group of professionals would have the biggest impact on healthcare reform and its implementation - physicians, administrators, patients, nurses? Sadly, nurses were voted as having the least amount of impact because they 'didn't operate as a single voice' (read 'no power') and were not good at making decisions. Perhaps this perception came from the fact that we have failed to decide the college entry level for the profession � for every nurse I know is an excellent critical thinker and decision maker. As a group, however, we have failed. We have no real power because we are divided; scattered across the nation with different boards of nursing and different contract licensure rules per state.
This I know is true. 3.1 million Nurses could heal our nation. If we all voted for the same candidate, we would be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming elections. Candidates would seek out our opinions and would be forced to make campaign promises for healthcare in order to earn our vote. Can you imagine if every nurse sent an email to their senators and congressmen on the same day? We could easily pass the legislation that was needed to protect our vulnerable populations - especially our children and the elderly. How could each Senator or Congressman ignore the messages from over 50,000 nurses per state? Perhaps we could use social media to connect in a way like we have never done before. If we gave up just one latte a month and donated the three dollars to lobbying efforts, we could pass any bill through the House and Senate- because we would have 9 million dollars a month to spend on lobbyist every single month! We could end obesity and diabetes's upward trend, double nursing faculty's salaries so they are on par with other master's prepared faculty, put two nurses in every school, work 10 hour shifts with 2 hours dedicated to research and education every shift. If only....
Last year I moved to Washington, D.C. for a month to see for myself the state of government affairs. I was disappointed and disillusioned after meeting powerful lobbyist for the oil and nuclear power industries. As I went from congressman to congresswomen's offices I grew more despondent � like I was in a Jewish deli and should just take a number - #456,001. There were so many people bombarding the capital with their special interests that nursing was clearly on the end of a very, very long list. But here's my special interest: the health of this nation.
Every day I see nurses working more with less, dedicating their skill and knowledge to heal patients from newborns to centurions. And we are not a healthy group -71% working with neck and back injuries and 18% suffering from depression. Many of us are tired- and all you have to do is look at our workload and the complexity of patients to understand why. Patients that used to be in ICU are now on the unit. There are over 6000 drugs and 4000 procedures and a decreasing length of stay while managers constantly ask us how we can work leaner.
I believe in Nursing. But nothing will change until we function as a 'single voice'. If we did, by this time next year, we could heal our world. We are indeed better together.
Nurses Week YouTube Video