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February 16, 2016

Musings about Professional Nursing Organizations, Unions, and Unity

By | Advocacy, Healthcare Policy, Nursing | 8 Comments

I was an ANA and MONA member when I graduated nursing school.  I did not renew because I didn’t see a benefit at the time.  No legislation that impacted my practice seemed to pass, and I had just been smacked in the face by how bad conditions are for nurses.  I paid for that membership initially because my nursing instructors told me that it was important to be a member of the profession. Then I stopped, because it appeared to me that the profession didn’t particularly care about itself.

I am also an AFGE member.  While they do not appear to be doing anything for me at the moment, as a seasoned nurse I understand the value of collective bargaining.  

So, why am I saying this?

The problem with our profession in general is our amazing talent to argue about whether or not we should be breathing air, whether the sky is cerulean or wedgewood blue, and whether what the cafeteria serving is healthy. The answer to all of these questions is “Seriously? Do you not have anything else to worry about?” but it seems really important at the time.

People with strong opinions are generally really good patient advocates.  So this is good. However…. you have to pick your battles, nurses.  It’s probably not especially important for you and your fellow nurses to agree on everything, but something would be useful.  unity

So I stuck a picture in this blog about a postage stamp.  Its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing until it gets there.  So how about we stick to this one thing.  This one ceasefire, until we get to safe staffing? We can put aside all of our difference, take off our Judgey McJudgeyPants, and get behind this one thing that will make care better for our patients, and will help us keep our licenses. This thing will prevent fatal medication errors, bedsores, failure to assign patients to care, failure to spend the time we need to take with the emotionally vulnerable, and failure to be able to live with ourselves.  

So, what is the issue?

Are you afraid? Because fear is a liar.  No one is asking you to do anything that will get you fired. If you talk to your professional nursing organization and ask them to get behind an all-factions-in-nursing safe staffing rally, you are not doing anything wrong.  If you go to Washington DC on May 12, 2016 to fight for decent care for your patients, you are not hurting your health care organization, your patients, or your profession. You are not demanding anything for yourself, though you have every right to demand safe staffing ratios.  You are calling this to the attention of the public.  

If you do not support a nursing cause like this, however you are perpetuating the problem. remedy

Yes, I said it.

We have been divided for too long over things that do not matter.  How about you just trust me and try to support one cause, one event, one time and see if it makes a difference? 

Because it may. It won’t be the next day, and it may not be until the next year. But it may actually get us where we have to go.  Let’s stick together for that long.

I challenge you to send this to your Professional Nursing Organization.  Tweet it, share it,. paste it, however you can.  Does your organization agree?

I hope so.



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