NEW YORK NURSE: March 2008
by Karen Ballard, President-elect, MA, RN
Twelve months from now, nurses will look back on 2008 and realize that it was a pivotal year in health care. Not because anything significant occurred within health care, but because as a nation we elected a new President. This individual will have the opportunity to radically change, incrementally modify, or possibly ignore the healthcare system in our country. The decision for either change or inaction will ultimately and drastically affect everyone’s access to health care.
It is important to remember that nurses have a long and remarkable history as leaders and advocates in confronting and changing social issues that relate to patient care and health. Some examples include protective labor laws, child care, violence, ethics, mental health parity, confidentiality, and patients’ rights. In the Code of Ethics for Nurses, principles 8 and 9 outline nurses’ responsibilities for addressing the health needs and concerns of one’s community, nation, and the world. The principles call nurses to work individually and collectively through political action to bring about social change.
Nurses today must champion the nation’s need for a universal healthcare system that is accessible, affordable, safe, culturally respectful, and supports the delivery of quality care. Nursing care is healthcare and, as nurses, we must make sure that we send the message to the decision makers that our healthcare system must be reformed. And we must lead the way in how it is done.
Never doubt that nurses can make it happen: one in every 44 registered women voters and 1 in every 100 citizens is a registered nurse!