Need for union representation grows as profession evolves

Nurse Practitioners, Midwives and other Advance Practice Nurses are bringing their expertise to the U.S. healthcare landscape and adding an important voice to NYSNA, as well.

“Before joining NYSNA, we did not have a voice, we fell between the medical role and nursing role,” says Michelle Bryan, a Nurse Practitioner (NP) at Maimonides Medical Center. “There was no standard protocol for how many patients we had and no formal way of addressing this and other issues.” Making matters worse, she adds, “Our benefits were not that great.”

“With NYSNA representation, we have a voice in any situation, especially when it comes to scheduling,” says Glenda Long, an NP employed by Montefiore Medical Center to run school clinics. “Because we are in the union, we have a set shift. My colleagues who are not unionized don’t have a specific schedule. As NPs, if there are patients who need us, we are going to continue working whether our shift is over or not. If anything happens and we have to stay late, we are compensated. Some of my colleagues do not have union representation and they can’t do that.”

Today, Bryan, Long and 840 NPs, Midwives and other Advance Practice Nurses have a meaningful say on issues central to their work and enjoy outstanding benefits. Both are the result of NYSNA representation and a union contract.

NP numbers growing

With greater emphasis on primary care the role of NPs is expanding. Their expertise is being tapped across the healthcare spectrum.

“We are trained to look at, and treat, the entire patient,” explains Bryan. “We are able to pick-up on medical, psychological and social issues affecting a patient’s health.”

The projected growth of the profession is very substantial, and NYSNA is well prepared organizationally to represent NPs, Midwives and other Advance Practice Nurses.

Advocating for patients and themselves

In the unwritten hierarchy of healthcare providers, including physicians, NPs may often find it difficult to secure their rightful place. The union’s goal is representing NPs to ensure that they can provide optimal care by invoking their full scope of practice.

At Maimonides, NPs were able to maintain what they considered key aspects of their autonomy. For example, some flexibility on schedules was achieved as a result of bargaining.

Michelle Bryan’s message to NPs, Midwives and other Advance Practice Nurses who are interested in becoming union members: “The process may not be easy, but it is well worth it. Your hospital administration may not be openly opposed but they won’t want it. They might say that joining a union will affect your practice negatively. It won’t. Don’t be afraid to join a union.”

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