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Nurse advocacy and the power of the public’s trust


Like many of you, I celebrated the news that, for the 15th year in a row, the public ranked nurses as being the most honest and having the highest ethical standards among a wide spectrum of professions. We greatly value this Gallup poll ranking, because it highlights the meaningful relationship nurses have with our patients and their families. It’s a relationship built on and fueled by trust.

This annual, year-end poll also provides ANA with a natural opportunity to extend our reach publicly. A media release we issued highlighting the survey results was picked up by more than 250 nursing and general news outlets nationwide and is still gaining traction. And in December, I engaged in a 10-city radio media tour where I shared the message of who we are as nurses, our integral roles in healthcare delivery and promotion, and what drives patients’ trust in us.

Since then, I continue to reflect on our advocacy, one of the principal drivers of their trust. As members of the nursing profession, we are guided by our Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements, which speaks to the responsibility and accountability we have in advocating for individuals and their families. Patients understand that we overtly—and sometimes behind the scenes—advocate for their best interests, whether it’s promoting optimal conditions for their recovery, providing education and supporting them throughout the decision-making process, or intervening on their behalf when their treatment choice is threatened. The importance of nurses’ patient- and family-centered advocacy, particularly when patients are under great stress, cannot be overstated.

Also rooted in our Code of Ethics and part of our social contract with society is our responsibility to advocate beyond the bedside by helping to shape healthcare policy at the institutional, community, state, and national levels. In some cases, this means speaking up for patients, consumers, and the nursing profession within your statehouses or the halls of Congress. It also can mean bringing nursing’s voice to corporate, nonprofit, and governance boards.

As of this writing, there continues to be a great deal of uncertainty about health care and what it will look like moving forward. As long-time advocates for vulnerable populations, nurses’ voices on the larger policy issues confronting us are crucial. Few issues are more integral to quality of life than health, and we know that health is fundamental to well-being as individuals and as a nation.

In recent weeks, thousands of nurses nationwide have engaged in grassroots advocacy around ANA’s principles by meeting with Congressional staff and contacting their lawmakers on nursing’s vision for health care. These principles, which ANA shared with the new administration, focus on ensuring access to care, affordable and equitable care, quality of care, and an adequate and well-prepared workforce.

It’s vitally important that nurses embrace all of our advocacy roles and leverage the power of the public’s trust to keep the best interests of patients and the public at the forefront.

I urge you to get involved by signing up for advocacy alerts on RNAction.org, staying informed on pressing issues at anacapitolbeat.org, and participating in ANA’s annual Day of Advocacy (formerly Lobby Day) in Washington, DC, or your state legislative action days. The ANA-Political Action Committee (ANA-PAC) is another vital tool our members have to help amplify their voice in Washington. The PAC uses voluntary contributions from ANA members to support federal candidates who share nursing’s vision.

ANA also continues to help nurses strengthen their political advocacy skills and build a network of nurse activists through our American Nurses Advocacy Institute. So far, 182 nurses from 42 states have participated or are participating in the Institute. Watch for opportunities to attend this yearlong fellowship that helps move nursing’s agenda at both the state and national levels.

Let’s make sure that the public continues to place their trust in us—not only for recognition every December—but because it’s well-deserved year-round.

Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
President, American Nurses Association

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