The election in the “Year of the Nurse” is just around the corner. Nurses have seen changes to their profession this year that have highlighted some of the major gaps and discrepancies in our healthcare system. There are 3.8 million Registered Nurses in the U.S. That’s a fair amount of voting power. The American Nurses Association (ANA) has identified some key issues as a priority for nurses to vote on.
Top Issues for Nurses during the 2020 Election
- COVID-19: This pandemic has shown the need for evidence-based guidelines, a clear plan for resources and has underscored the value of healthcare providers. The ANA recognizes four topics of importance regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
- Safe Practice Environment: Focuses on providing access to safe and effective personal protective equipment (PPE) and having testing and treatment available for frontline workers. The ANA has connected nurses to the #EndNurseAbuse campaign that targets bullying and relieving moments of tension in the healthcare environment, especially during this ongoing crisis/pandemic.
- Self-Care/Mental Health of Healthcare Providers: The ANA is working with Congress to secure mental health resources and hazard pay for those on the frontlines. They have mobilized their RNAction Community to motivate Washington to support nurses and other providers.
- Licensure/Professional Development: Calls attention to expanding licensure across lines and advocating for a smoother transition of graduating students into the workforce.
- Workforce/Access to Care: The ANA has supported and passed the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act and continues to push for access to healthcare via telemedicine and home health visits by credentialed providers.
- Health System Transformation: This initiative reinforces the value of having universal access to essential healthcare, optimizing community and hospital-based services, providing cost-efficient healthcare, and stocking the workforce with qualified providers.
- Safe Staffing: Adequate staffing can make a huge impact on patient safety and national patient safety goals. The ANA points out the importance of orientation to each unit a nurse must work on and is pushing for a way to report violations in staffing to Health and Human Services. The Association also supports whistleblower protection and public reports of facility staffing patterns.
- Workplace Violence: 25% of nurses have been abused in the workplace- which is clearly an unacceptable statistic. The ANA has put forth a collaborative effort to end nurse abuse and raise awareness about violence in the healthcare arena. Despite their efforts, few workplaces have put actual plans into place to combat this problem. Bill S.851 has been introduced to the Senate, which is similar to the bill (H.R. 1309) that the House passed in 2019- which pushes for facilities to come up with concrete plans and contingencies to address the issue of violence against providers.
- Opioid Epidemic: According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, deaths due to drug overdoses involving prescription opioids increased from 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017. This number is alarming, and unfortunately, nurses have witnessed the repercussions of this epidemic firsthand. There are bills in the House and Senate (H.R. 2482 and S.2074) that seek to tackle issues in treating patients suffering from opioid addiction.
- Workforce Development: Nurses represent a unique group that stands to have a huge impact on the cost and quality of healthcare services in the U.S. The ANA reports a 19% job growth increase for RNs from 2012 to 2022. The ANA supports having sufficient educational opportunities from entry to graduate level, as well as developing programs to aid nurses in paying back their student loans if they are working at facilities with critical nursing shortages.
- Home Health: Patients in remote areas need critical access to healthcare. The ANA supports the Home Healthcare Planning strategies as laid out by the CARES Act. The goal is to have APRN providers available to give care in underserved urban and remote areas without having to go through the timely process of finding a nearby physician to verify their assessments and treatment.
Get out there and vote for issues that are important to our profession! Many states are introducing (or re-introducing) laws that would regulate nurse/patient ratios. Review your ballot carefully and know what you are voting for!
For more info on voting and how to get registered check out our post about travel nurses and the election process!