Our Week, Our Future

NYSNA nurses celebrated Nurses Week beginning May 6 and throughout the entire month. I always feel proud to be a nurse, but this time of year is a good opportunity to reflect even more on what brought me to the profession — and why I’m still here.

Nurses Make the Difference

I’ve always felt called to be a caregiver and an advocate, but it has really been my fellow nurses, my colleagues and my union siblings who have fueled my passion for nursing and kept me in the profession for more than 30 years. 

It has been the amazing NYSNA nurses who make a difference every day. It has been seeing you advocate for patients — even when it means standing up to management bullies. It has been seeing you get involved in the community and speak out for health equity and justice. It has been seeing you give so much of your time to get involved in our workplaces, our union and our democracy — even when I know that you’re working overtime and juggling personal and family commitments. 

In short, I draw my inspiration and my own extra efforts from the solidarity I feel with NYSNA nurses and nurses everywhere who face so many of the same struggles as we do. In my position as National Nurses United co-president, connecting with nurses all over the country and the world, I have really experienced this sense of a shared struggle. The need to come together as nurses is more urgent than ever before. 

When Nurses Unite

I know that when nurses unite, we have achieved what others told us was impossible. From last year’s contract victories for public and private sector nurses to boldly building on our victories this year to making gains on safe staffing to saving essential healthcare services, we nurses have achieved so much.

But we know the challenges we face are tremendous. The onslaught of profit-driven healthcare continues to affect us all. It has contributed to understaffing, grueling working conditions, lower-quality care for our patients, hospital consolidation and cuts to healthcare services, healthcare disparities, and higher healthcare prices for everyone. And profit-driven healthcare continues to present new challenges like artificial intelligence, which is a growing threat to the future of our practice and patients. 

Writing Our Own Future

Despite our industry’s challenges, I am confident that nurses can and will write our own future. Private equity firms and Silicon Valley investors may say they are the future of healthcare. They may be trying to be in the driver’s seat of healthcare, but it is nurses who do the work. We are the ones with the knowledge, expertise, care and compassion to influence the future of healthcare. We are the ones who are the patient advocates and will continue to fight to steer healthcare in the right direction — toward safety and respect for healthcare workers and universal quality care for all. There is no future of healthcare without nurses — our labor and our voice. 

Be Proud

NYSNA nurses will continue to push the envelope for safe staffing, using every tactic available to advocate for nurse and patient safety. We will continue to fight and win great contracts that respect nurses and our patients. We will organize more nurses, because all nurses deserve a voice at work. And we will take on any new challenges that come our way.

I hope you got some time to do your own reflection this Nurses Week about what it means to you to be a nurse. I also hope this Nurses Week made you feel proud to be a nurse and a part of a movement of nurses working to improve the lives of our coworkers, patients and communities. I hope you are proud to be a member of NYSNA and a part of the most trusted profession. 

Congratulations for everything you do on behalf of your patients and profession — this Nurses Week and always.

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