The election is exactly 3 weeks away and while it feels like one of the most absurd campaigns in our country’s history, it is our civic duty to vote. Every single vote matters. I am not writing this to try to sway those of you who have already decided on a candidate. While I certainly have my opinions, I have learned that this a pointless battle that can divide families, friends, and coworkers. This post is for those of you who do not exercise your right to be heard or believe it is futile.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2,745,910 Registered Nurses and 697,250 Licensed Practical Nurses working in the U.S. as of May 2015. That is 3,443,160 votes!!! The ANA states that “one in every 45 voters is a nurse, meaning that one nurse truly can make a difference by getting involved with a campaign at any level, from local to federal.”
Voting is a Fundamental Right
Every nurse should embrace the right to vote. It was not long ago that the female nurses in this country had no right to vote. Less than a hundred years ago, women did not have the right to vote in this country. Let me repeat that until it sinks in. Until 1920, women did not have the right to vote in this country. It took a brave group of women who endured prison time, even torture to allow us this right.
Protect Our Patients
Multiple studies have shown that when a nurse is burdened with caring for more patients than he/she should, it is the patient that suffers. It is not just a poor patient satisfaction survey of the hospital reflecting long wait times in emergency rooms or long wait times for pain medication that results. There is a darker side of overloading a nurse with patients. Serious medical errors can and do occur. Your vote can influence the future of safer patient assignments and thus better care.
Protect Each Other
Sticking together and standing up for our rights as professionals is the only way to make needed changes. As most of us work in the trenches, we are the ones that feel the weight of a heavy patient load as a result of poor staffing. Many of us suck it up and just get through the shift, which in the long run can lead to burn out and stress related illnesses. I have worked in states that have enforced laws governing safe nurse to patient ratios and I can tell you from experience it is like night and day when compared to working in states that do not. It took a collective group of nurses to be heard in Washington, but change followed.
Being vocal is a trait every nurse is either born with or learns. Why would we stop then just at the bedside? We have to advocate for our profession and the single best way to advocate is vote both at the federal and local levels.
One single vote can make a difference. Will you be that vote? Become the best advocate for yourself, your patients, your coworkers, our amazing profession today. Be vocal. Be heard.
Lori is a travel nurse that has made her way to Sweden. She is also a Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher. Follow her adventures working and traveling through Europe in her blog, Neonurse, or on Instagram.
For more information on the current issues and getting involved in your state, follow the links below….
When Nurses Talk, Washington Listens
Absentee and Early Voting