As you may know, the American Nurses Association (ANA) designated 2018 as the  “Year of Advocacy.” These past 10 months, they’ve encouraged nurses to influence and bring about change at the bedside and beyond by engaging in “moments of everyday advocacy.”

As Election Day approaches, now is the time to end this year of advocacy on a strong note by demonstrating the political leadership skills that are unique to nursing. Make your voice heard! It will go a long way toward benefiting your local community, the nation, and potentially, the entire global community.

Political advocacy and nursing are not mutually exclusive, and every day nurses influence elected officials at the local, state, and federal level. The ANA encourages nurses to stand shoulder to shoulder to defend health care and make a difference on these significant policy issues:

  • Set safe staffing levels to save patient lives and reduce nurse attrition at the bedside.
  • Support nursing education and specifically, funding for Title V11.
  • End the gun violence and restore CDC research on how to stop this epidemic.
  • Stop physical and verbal abuse of nurses in all health care settings. Every employee deserves a safe workplace.

Here’s what you, as an individual, can do to make an impact:

Vote! And help get out the vote by encouraging friends, family, and coworkers to do the same. Some clinics have even conducted nonpartisan voter registration drives and reminded patients to cast a ballot. The volunteer providers who run the drives compare helping patients with voter registration to assisting them get insurance coverage.

In addition, write, email, or call national lawmakers and your local representatives to express your views. Or tweet them out. Best of all, show up in person at town halls, congressional meetings, or even on Capitol Hill. Political marches are also effective in persuading lawmakers—elected officials want to keep their constituents happy, and nurses make up a noteworthy voting block.

Sign up for the ANA’s text alerts so that you’re kept in the loop on what’s happening in Washington. You’ll be ready to respond to any pertinent policy developments with this news and information update service.

You might be asking: Can nurses really make a difference in the political process?

This answer is a resounding “Yes!” Governmental representatives and policymakers do value the unique expertise that nurses bring as health care professionals and patient advocates.

In annual opinion polls, nursing almost always rates as the most trusted profession among the general public. That esteem goes a long way toward encouraging decision makers to listen when nurses talk and to take what they say seriously.

Who knows, maybe you’ll decide to run for an elected office yourself or to accept an appointed position. There’s been a groundswell of grassroots political involvement and women and minorities running for office recently, and the field is wide open for new voices.

Regardless of your political party affiliation and where you stand on certain issues, most likely you’re in agreement with other nurses on these challenges to our nation. We all want to protect health care benefits for all (and especially vulnerable populations), cut health care costs and administrative expenses, reduce excessive prescription drug costs, and completely eliminate fraud, waste, and abuse.

Make your voice heard! Get involved at the local, state, or federal level to support or oppose proposed legislation that could affect health care. Advocate for nurses and patients everywhere as a political block through your union, your specialty nursing association, or ANA.

By becoming a nursing champion, you can influence lawmakers to become health care champions that strive to meet the pressing medical needs of our patients and health care staff.

For advocacy tools, visit the ANA website.

Jebra Turner

Jebra Turner is a freelance health writer in Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at for more self-care inspiration.
Jebra Turner

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