Letter from Lynnette Vehrs, WSNA President

This story was published in the Winter 2021 issue of The Washington Nurse magazine.

Vehrs 2020 10 10 023631

Lynnette Vehrs, MN, RN, WSNA President

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!