Making a difference in a multitude of ways

Speaking out and speaking the truth 

Justin Gill, DNP, ARNP, RN, a Washington State Nurses Associ­a­tion member, is a health policy leader grounded by his day-to-day work in an urgent care clinic in Everett, Washington. Working with patients helps me realize that this is what really matters,” he said. 

Early in Gill’s career as a nurse practi­tioner (NP), he success­fully devel­oped an initial plan for a patient who had symptoms of colon cancer but neglected screening because she lacked health insur­ance. It reinforced the fact that it didn’t matter if we have the best colonoscopy technology…if people can’t access it or have a fear of accessing it due to cost, then their health is actually jeopar­dized,” Gill said.

Both his clinical and advocacy work impact his third role — lecturer at the Univer­sity of Washington Bothell School of Nursing, where he highlights how health policy directly affects bedside care. If patients don’t have insur­ance, or if nurses don’t have access to PPE [personal protec­tive equip­ment], that all comes from some policy level, and finding a way for them to find their voice helps amplify my overall goal, which is to get nurses more involved in legisla­tive and clinical advocacy,” he said. 

On an advocacy level, Gill worked on a campaign that led to the intro­duc­tion of legis­la­tion in Washington requiring that insur­ance compa­nies reimburse NPs who own their practice at the same rate as physi­cians. As chair of the legislative/​health policy council of the Washington State Nurses Associ­a­tion, he worked to strengthen safe staffing legis­la­tion. He also has served as a trustee on the ANA Polit­ical Action Committee Board.

As a health policy leader and a clini­cian, Gill educates patients who have been misin­formed about COVID-19 and vaccines and partic­i­pated in the COVID Vaccine Educa­tion and Equity Project, which aims to build confi­dence in autho­rized vaccines. (covid​vac​cine​pro​ject​.org).

Gill tells his patients, You’ve come here to trust me with your care, and I’m going to give you the best care avail­able, which means telling you the truth and not telling you neces­sarily what it is that you want to hear.” Gill also spoke recently to CBS News, NBC News, and MSNBC about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Seeing a positive change in a patient’s health is one of Gill’s most rewarding experi­ences. My ability to have an impact on that person’s life is just as impor­tant as my ability to impact a law that passes at the congres­sional level or the state level, or my ability to advocate for legis­la­tion that would help that patient in the long run.”

AMERICAN NURSE: Making a difference in a multitude of ways (5/10/21)