Letter from Lynnette Vehrs, WSNA President

This story was published in the Fall 2020 issue of The Washington Nurse magazine.


Lynnette Vehrs, MN, RN, WSNA President

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.”