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Nurses – A political force

today-we-marchWe’re living in one of the most rhetorically volatile, divisive and partisan political climates in recent memory. With lobbyists, political action committees and other special interest groups all pressing agendas of their own, I thought about how nurses could become a political force to be reckoned with.

Think about it. How many nurses are there in this country? Whether on the local, state or national level, we could stand up for the things we believe in. We could have a positive effect on the dialect of the health care discussion. We could offer ideas for solutions. We could accomplish any number of great things. How many of us are passionate about something in our industry? How many of us feel we have no voice?

For such a rewarding profession, we all complain about how difficult it is for nurses in the hospitals. “There are too many patients and not enough nurses” is a common line. “There’s a nursing shortage” is another one.

True, patients today are more acutely ill. They are admitted for multiple diagnoses, and many have complications during their stay. Floor nurses are working harder than ever before. Nurses in California, however, were successful in establishing legislation concerning nurse-to-patient ratios. There are similar initiatives on the ballots of many other states including Arizona, Illinois, Maine, Ohio and Texas. This happened because nurses joined together for the greater good and made something positive come of it. How’s that for a voice?

Today’s political climate seems to be an access game in which the general public plays a large part, yet actually receives little benefit for being such a huge player in the game. Nurses could stand together now and become such a voice that their ideas would be taken seriously and their votes courted.

With health care being such a giant political issue these days, I would hope that many of us could agree on a number of the issues facing us. Imagine what kinds of ideas could be brought forth to advance the practice of nursing and protect the general public as well. What could be more rewarding than that?

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Jim DeMaria

James DeMaria, RN, BSN, is Vice President of Renal Care Registered Nursing Services, located in Nanuet, N.Y. Founded in 1991, Renal Care Registered Nursing Services provides acute kidney dialysis services to some of the northeast’s largest hospitals and caregiving facilities. While having had no formal business training, James has excelled as an entrepreneur, a role he must balance with his responsibility as a nurse, husband and father, and is always on call, explaining, “You never work harder than you do for yourself.” He is also cohost of “Nurse's Station,” a new audio podcast by and for nurses.

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