Legislative Advocacy: State Advocacy to Advance Safe Staffing Legislation
"Political advocacy and nursing practice are synergistic, not mutually exclusive. Nurses are experts in patient care delivery, and our voice is needed in policy discussions at all levels."
Justin Gill, MS, RN, ARNP, FNP-C
One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had was my engagement with the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) Legislative/Health Policy Council involving safe staffing legislation. We have had a staffing law in place in our state for several years, thanks to the hard work of WSNA, but we wanted to strengthen its impact. A new bill was introduced which would require hospitals disclose staffing plans, leading to greater transparency. I made visits to the state capitol and testified. Additionally, grassroots messaging activated other nurses from around the state. Ultimately, persistence, passion, and political engagement at all levels led to passage of the bill.
Nurses are natural advocates for their patients, experts in patient care, and are present at every level of care delivery. This inherent advocacy should transcend the bedside, and enter the public arena.
When nurses recognize and appreciate this, political advocacy becomes more of a professional duty rather than an optional activity. For nurses that are new to advocacy, joining and participating in nursing professional organizations are a great way to start.