Let’s use Nurses Week to make a real difference in the fight to protect the health of women and marginalized communities
Last week was Nurses Week! A week established to recognize the contribution of nurses worldwide. This year’s nurses week is more important than ever, due to the convergence of the leaked supreme court opinion overturning Roe vs. Wade and the upcoming Pennsylvania primary election, as nurses can be a powerful political collective in the fight to protect the health of women and marginalized communities.
In the US, nurses are 4 million strong; imagine the impact we could have in politics and on policy if we used that power to run for office, like Tarik Khan, who is a nurse running for state representative in the 194th district in Philadelphia or to get out the vote like Vote-ER is doing by helping healthcare workers register voters within their healthcare systems. Nurses have strength in numbers, but only if we show up and use our voices to support candidates that support the issues that affect our patients and communities most. One such nurse-led organization is Nurses for America (formerly Nurses for Biden), which advocates for investments in healthcare and for children and caregivers, voter rights, health equity, and combating climate change, issues that are essential to the health and well-being of all we serve.
Nurses have the power to drive the issues that need to be protected and fought for, including, but definitely not limited to, a woman’s right to choose, reproductive rights, and of course access to safe abortions for all people.
Some have said that healthcare providers should stay in their lane and that we shouldn’t be political; I couldn’t disagree more. This country needs highly educated, highly-skilled, critical thinkers who understand what it takes to be healthy and stay healthy on the micro and macro-level; nurses are the absolute right people to be leading now more than ever and at all levels of policy and politics. In fact, the Nursing Code of Ethics basically implores it; as five of its nine provisions are inherently linked to protecting individuals, families, communities, and the populace by not only practicing with compassion and dignity for all, but specifically by advocating and protecting “the rights, health, and safety of the patient” while reducing health disparities and promoting social justice.
With great power, comes great responsibility for healthcare heroes. So, for this Nurses Week — and all those to come — let us forgo the platitudes, and instead, get out and make a real difference by registering voters, knocking on doors, writing letters, making phone calls, and sending text messages. Let’s show up en mass and get involved — and importantly, vote! It will affect the patients we care for, the students we educate, the science and research we produce, the innovations we create, the policies we write, and the communities we serve far better than any one week ever could.