For a number of years, nurses have marched on DC to call for changes in nursing and healthcare that the conditions under which nurses care for patients. This year the specific issue is safe nurse:patient ratios, calling for passage of bills that are already in both the House and the Senate that set national standards for nurse:patient ratios. This event promises to be an invigorating event with inspiring speakers and the opportunity to be part of a strong, non-partisan event focusing on issues of great concern for all nurses. The march also coincides with the following week designated as “nurses week” – a U.S. tradition highlighting tokenism at its best (full disclosure – my personal opinion!). The march has the potential to energize nurses across the country to bring the activism home, and during nurses week take local action calling for safe ratios at home – in place of roses!
Sigma Theta Tau has now published the 2nd Edition of the book “The Power of Ten,” a book of essays by nursing leaders that address ten top issues for nurses to rally around for the next few years. These issues were identified prior to the results of the 2016 election, and now they are issues of increasing importance! The essays provide ideas and inspiration for actions to strengthen nursing’s focus and activism. The issues are:
- Educational Reform
- Academic Progression
- Interprofessional collaboration
- Systems thinking
- Voice of Nursing
- Global Stewardship
- Practice authority
- Delivery of care
- Professional handoff
This is an important resource for all nurses who are determined to act on the fundamental values of nursing. The essays are a follow-up to the 2012 “Future of Nursing” report; the issues dovetail with the four recommendations of the report, and sine a light on the actions that nurses can take now to bring a culture of health to the center in shaping the future of nursing and healthcare. The essays are short and to the point, and there are inspirational quotes from nursing leaders throughout that point the way forward.
Check it out! The book is available in several different formats directly from Sigma Theta Tau or from Amazon. All proceeds from the book are being donated in equal parts to the American Red Cross nursing programs and the American Nurses Foundation.
We recently received a message from Suzanne Fontanesi in Baltimore, sharing a letter she is sending to her Senator asking them to shadow a nurse to inform their health care debate by seeing reality up close and personal. She has given us permission to post the letter here so that other nurses can follow through with their senators as well!
Dear Senator _______,
I am a nurse writing to you on behalf of tens of thousands of my fellow nurses, who are deeply concerned about the possibility of Americans losing health care coverage. Before the Senate votes to repeal and/or replace of the Affordable Care Act, Congress members should be very clear eyed about who will be impacted, and how that impact will shape lives.
Nurses are ranked as the most trusted professionals in the nation. Members of Congress are ranked among the least trusted. In the eyes of the American public, nurses have distinguished themselves as moral, responsible and compassionate professionals. One important practice among nurses is that of ”shadowing”. Before committing to a workplace, a nurse spends time observing at close hand, the minute to minute reality of the people they will be serving.
Senators have great responsibility and many demands on their time, which function to keep them at a distance from many of the realities of daily life for the average American, not to mention the most vulnerable.
On behalf of the American people, I am inviting every United States Senator to spend a full work day shadowing a nurse, prior to voting on the repeal of the ACA. I ask them to observe a full work day, not as honored guests, but as quiet and anonymous observers in settings where nurses are caring for vulnerable Americans. Go with an open mind and ask questions.
I am requesting that you pause and take in the reality with your own eyes, ears and noses. Then, you may more legitimately resume the debate that will shape the lives of the most vulnerable millions of Americans. Regardless of party affiliation or political ideology, each Senator will bring relevant, firsthand information to the conversation.
Among 100 Senators, you will have collectively taken in the reality at schools, nursing homes, hospital emergency rooms, community mental health clinics, churches, drug treatment centers, and homeless shelters. Only then can you look us in the eyes and say that you understand our lives.
Please share this request with your fellow Senators. I will be happy to facilitate a shadow day for you or any of your colleagues.
Thank you for your consideration,
Your contact information
This morning I heard from a nurse in Seattle asking this question in response to our advocacy alert inviting comments on the proposed rules weakening the Affordable Care Act – “How can I be sure that my writing, calling and speaking up against these changes to ACA don’t actually encourage them to cut more? They seem to take our protests as success on their parts.” This is a terrific question, and it is one that plagues all of us from time to time! Here is my response – and I invite everyone to add your comments to this post – to help all of us focus on our determination to resist!
It is true that we really cannot know, at least not right away, whether or not anything we do will make a difference. But it is also true that a common initial reaction, by anyone, to opposition is to dig in further and make a “show” of being emboldened – and for the politicians, this is exactly what they will do for the first few signs of opposition. What they cannot withstand is a continued, large-scale show of opposition because at that point, it threatens their security. Those who are elected officials begin to realize they cannot survive with large scale opposition. Those who are appointed officials are also threatened, because our opposition threatens the elected administration that has put them in place. It may be true that they will ignore our opposition to all actions that threaten the health of the American people, but we will be on record for standing on the side of the people, and as our opposition persists, and grows, if anything will make a difference, this will.
There is another piece to this – there are things that people do that indeed do help them – which is to keep repeating what they say, even if we say “don’t” – when we say “don’t take away our healthcare” we are actually calling forth the image of what we want them not to do – to take it away. When we repeat their tweets and their promises to repeal, we are actually emboldening them. And so it is important to focus on what they do, not what they say. We will be posting suggestions for positive action regularly on the NurseManifest website, and also sending advocacy alerts like this one! (note: we are sending email advocacy alerts to all who signed the Declaration of Solidarity and Resistance and included your email)
This question also inspired me to re-visit my post earlier this month – Guidelines for Resistance – guidelines that we are using as we offer suggestions for action. Here again is the list of guidelines (tweaked a bit) – to help sort out, as best we can, what actions can be effective.
2. Remember this is a regime – he’s not acting alone; he has put in place many who have no interest in serving the needs of people for health and safety.
3. Do not argue with those who support the new administration –it doesn’t work;
4. Focus on his/their policies and actions, not his orange-ness, mental state, or wealth;
5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow.
6. No more helpless/hopeless talk
7. Support artists and the arts – pay attention to the comedians especially
8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Think like a scientist. Check it.
9. Take care of yourselves; and
All the talk about repealing the U.S. Affordable Care Act (ACA) is scary stuff for those of us who are concerned about those who would be harmed immeasurably if this were to happen. Of course this is a U.S.-specific problem, but all countries face ongoing threats that weaken healthcare systems worldwide (for example, the U.K. “Brexit” initiative is a significant threat for their National Health Service). Here in the U.S. we are at least a bit encouraged by the signs that repealing our fledgling ACA may not be easy – that the voices of the people letting MoCs s (members of Congress) know that this is not a good idea – may be getting through. However, as Rachel Maddow has been advising us for weeks now – watch what they DO, not what the say. In fact one of the most damaging things we can do is to repeat over and over what they say, which only reinforces their message.
So fortunately, we have folks stepping up to help us watch what they do, and giving us leads about what we can do about it. When, just a few days ago, Tom Price, avid opponent of the ACA, became Secretary of Health and Human Services, put up a proposal to make it harder and more expensive to get coverage under the ACA, and also supporting DJT’s executive order that gives insurers freedom to deny and limit benefits for those who already have it – most of the public had no way to know that this was happening. The brand new DCReport.org, established by David Cay Johnston, is filling this void. Read the report on the new ACA proposal here – Administration Moves To Block Access To Health Insurance. Here is the action box that accompanies this report:
Citizens have until March 7 to weigh in on the new rule. Use the rule-making code CMS-9929-P in any correspondence.
Write: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services / Department of Health & Human Services / Attention: CMS-9929-P / P.O. Box 8016 / Baltimore, MD 21244-8016. The phone number is 410-786-7195.
You can also comment online. This link will take you to the text of the proposed rule. There is a comment button on the right.
Of course this is not a dramatic, showy kind of action, and it certainly will not remove the threat that our country is facing. But if nobody speaks up now, then this administration will be further emboldened to continue down a damaging path. We can at least put them on alert by sending strong and clear messages that they do not have a mandate to continue.
We will continue to alert all NurseManifesters of actions we can take related to health and healthcare – but to stay alert for any issues that concerns you, follow DCReport.org, and other trusted news sources that help guide your own actions.