Political Advocacy: Stepping up and Speaking Out

"In politics where consensus is a way of moving issues forward, collaboration, debate, discussion and sometimes a discourse is a necessary tool of progress. Without listening and learning from each other, we will never get anything done."

Marketa Houskova, RN, MAIA, BA

Policy and politics decides who gets what, how much, what programs can be funded, what departments will flourish, and what projects could be canceled. The voice of nurses is sorely missing in many critical discussions.

I first got involved in politics and the political process while a registered nurse in what was Czechoslovakia, taking part in a non-violent transition of power in my country at the end of 1989. I volunteered during the very first democratic parliamentary election in Czech Republic in almost 40 years, and volunteered on many a campaign in Czech, Europe and America. As part of the Velvet Revolution, we demanded removal and resignation of communist leaders from our hospital.

Before the fate of the Revolution was clear, I stood up and spoke against the totalitarian regime and oppression, and called for an immediate removal of those who abused their power while in office. This trickled down to my employer as the hospital proceeded to remove the old leadership, from the top, followed by the removal of some department directors who had abused their power.

I began my nursing career in a surgical unit at a regional hospital in the Czech Republic, advocating for patients. While speaking passionately, from my heart and on behalf of others who were unable to speak for themselves, I found my political voice. I now advocate for the profession in my role as the executive director of the American Nurses Association of California, headquartered in Sacramento.