Advocating: it’s what each of us is doing when we educate ourselves and the candidates running for office about health policy and issues affecting the scope of our nursing practice. We are advocates for our patients and each other. We need to take the next step and VOTE!
It is well stated in our ANA Code of Ethics that it is the responsibility of professional nurses to become involved in politics as one way to advocate for patients. There are many legislative bills that come before the Washington State Legislature year after year. Many of those bills address patient care and safety. Also, there are bills that may shape and change the RN’s scope of practice. We must pay attention to this. Voting is a powerful responsibility and privilege!
WSNA is a bipartisan group. We support Republicans and Democrats alike. Our goal is to support those who support nurses and patient safety. The “Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements” is a guide for implementing nursing responsibilities in a way consistent with quality in nursing care and the ethical obligations of the profession.
The WSNA-PAC Board of Trustees conducted virtual interviews during April and May with many candidates that requested our endorsement. I was fortunate to join them in these interviews. We had about five to six questions we asked all of them. It felt very objective and educational. We completed this by supporting incumbents and new candidates that may be conservative and/or progressive. Please look at the WSNA website to view the endorsements. Our Legislative and Health Policy Council is developing our legislative priorities for the 2021 session in Olympia. We are well aware of the state budget deficits and are measuring the issues accordingly.
During this COVID-19 crisis, we have become more aware of racial injustices. These injustices are also referenced in the Code of Ethics. Human rights, social justice and disparities are issues we are called to address and advocate for fairness. I think it is vital that we all stand up and speak out against racism, prejudice and discrimination. This happens in our workplaces, communities and the political arena. It has humbled me how daily cultural mindsets have been disrespectful to our friends and colleagues of color. This has got to stop. Equity is a journey. It is a redistribution of power. We need a “time out.” Let’s look at the language we use. Words are powerful. We need to be held accountable for our words. We must step up and vote for people that understand these concepts and the laws that support our families, neighborhoods and country.
The ANA resolution was passed on June 20, 2020, as part of the association’s Membership Assembly, which was held virtually this year. The resolution states, in part, that:
“Racism is a public health crisis that impacts the mental, spiritual, and physical health of all people. The Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements obligates nurses to be allies and to advocate and speak up against racism, discrimination, and injustice. Consistent with this obligation, ANA has taken positions against racism, discrimination and health care disparities and advocating for human rights.
ANA, along with nurses everywhere, are again called to action. Collectively, we must emerge from silence and speak with one strong voice as leaders and role models of compassion and empathy for our patients, families, communities and most importantly, towards one another. Our voice is our commitment to making a difference in all that we do for those we serve.”