Nurses must amplify their voices

Our advocacy efforts for our patients and communities should not end when we clock out.

This story was published in the Fall 2023 issue of The Washington Nurse.

I am constantly reminded of the essential role that nurses play in our communities.

I often hear references to the statistic that nursing represents the largest and most trusted healthcare profession. While our numbers and public trust are considerable, I feel that the perception of what nurses truly do is underrepresented in the public arena.

The COVID pandemic reminded us of how heavily our functioning society relies on the training, recruitment, and retention of nurses. But I am concerned that this reminder may fade quickly as we continue to move forward.

In my job as an advanced practice nurse in an urgent care setting, I see patients who come from various socioeconomic backgrounds, and many do not have adequate access to primary care or community resources.

While the pandemic exacerbated some of these deficiencies, these issues existed long before the pandemic. Many of us can understand why these problems are happening: lack of staffing in hospitals and health systems, inadequate health coverage, and a system that focuses on costly illness-related care instead of on wellness and health promotion, among others.

In my day job, I see how many nurses may feel burnt out and apathetic about the future of healthcare. I would challenge all of us to focus instead on how we can use our collective strength and passion to make a positive change in our institutions.

Our profession is positioned to cut through the noise and remedy these problems. As nurses, we need to acknowledge the trust and legitimacy we bring to these discussions. Our advocacy efforts for our patients and communities should not end when we clock out.

We need nurses to move the needle toward better health for all. Now is the time for our profession to amplify our voice at every level.