As I write this letter, we continue to battle COVID-19 in our communities, hospitals and families. Some days, it may feel overwhelming and exhausting. Nurses are trusted; the public trusts our insights and evidence-based protective practices. Nurses’ strongest power is our ability to communicate with our families and patients about their health care and protection. It is up to us to reinforce the need to wear a mask, and practice physical distancing and frequent handwashing.
We just went through a tumultuous election in November. As nurses, we understand that the virus does not favor or attack one political party over another. It does not matter if we are Republicans, Democrats, Independents or Libertarians — none of us are immune to the virus.
The Washington State Legislature’s 2021 Regular Session will once again take place in January. During the legislative session, the Washington State Nurses Association will be representing and defending nurses. Legislators know they can trust nurses; when we describe a problem and ask for help, they are there for us. Most Democrats and Republicans listen and are willing to work with us. WSNA supports and endorses candidates from all political parties. I want you to be informed and understand our nursing issues. By and large, they address our working environment, such as rest breaks, safe staffing and mandatory overtime. Oftentimes, we need nurses to testify and explain nursing issues and why we are asking for a bill to pass or be defeated.
All nurses need to be involved in politics. Years ago, I remember thinking politics was messy and unprofessional. I could not have been further from the truth. We need to be advocates for safe and fair work environments and the safety of our patients.
I was invited to our virtual WSNA Nurses Unite! event in November. I listened to many nurses who said they were facing intimidation in the workplace because they belonged to a union; they also shared issues we need to change in our contracts. We can help them. We need to stand together. We are trusted and respected by the public. Yes, stand together!
Another way WSNA members can get involved is to run for WSNA office. There are many council, committee and Board of Directors positions available. If you are a union member (i.e., you are a dues-paying member working at a WSNA local unit), you may also run for office in the Cabinet on Economic and General Welfare. As your president, I have found holding office to be a great educational experience and path toward impacting the various issues that concern me. If you are interested in running for office, please fill out the Consent to Serve form on wsna.org by Jan. 30.
I will leave you with this: Decisions are made by those who “show up.” So, just show up!