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Letter to the Editor from Donna Cook on Power to Influence Patient Care: Who Holds the Keys?

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December 9, 2009

response from Donna Cook on the topic Power to Influence Patient Care: Who Holds the Keys? (January 31, 2007)

Dear Editor:

As a young nursing student I was involved in the Missouri Student Nurses Association. After I graduated I did not join a professional nursing organization. I could blame this on moving to another state or the culture shock of “real nursing;” but both excuses seem flimsy now. Although I wasn’t aware of a professional nursing organization in Iowa, I admit I did not take the initiative to seek out such an organization either. The bottom line is I really didn’t understand the importance of our professional organizations or of being an active organizational member. Recently though, I have been reminded why it is so important for nurses to be involved in our professional organizations.

Our nation continues to grapple with healthcare reform, an issue that will have an enormous impact on our profession and how care is delivered to patients. It is critical for nurses to become active members of professional organizations now in order to have a voice in the changes that are occurring. The value, the worth of nursing is yet to be fully realized. Important research is currently seeking to quantify this value in order to communicate the worth of nurses to those who are responsible for financial decisions regarding healthcare. It is important that we as nurses are able to articulate and communicate this value, both at work, in the grocery store, throughout our communities, and across the nation. Telling our stories (maintaining confidentiality of course) will go a long way toward increasing nursing’s visibility and promoting nursing’s value.

One way to promote nursing is to join the American Nurses Association (ANA). The ANA advances nursing by establishing high standards of nursing practice, promoting the rights of nurses, projecting a positive view of nursing, and lobbying Congress and regulatory agencies on healthcare issues affecting nurses and the public. There are also many specialty nursing organizations available to nurses. Joining one association does not exclude a nurse from joining another. What is important is that we work together through our nursing organizations, in a unified manner, not criticizing each other, but rather supporting each other so that together we can serve our patients and show the value of professional nursing.

We are an important part of healthcare reform. We must have a strong voice at the table. The more we work together, the stronger our voice will be. If we are not at the table, we may be ‘on the menu’ which could be devastating not only to our profession but also to the future of healthcare. Nurses can either stand by and become victims of the changes in healthcare policy or we can stand up together and be agents of change, creating changes that will have a positive impact on our profession for years to come. The choice is clear - we must work together for the sake of our profession and our patients.

Donna Cook, RN, CCHP
Nurse Supervisor
Newton Correctional Facility
Iowa

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