Nurses are valued professionals on whom New Brunswick's health care system depends. But despite your importance and numbers, your profession doesn't currently wield nearly as much influence over health policy conversations and expenditures as it could.
In light of the ongoing challenges facing health care, and the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience nurses have about patient care and safety, it's clear that communities would benefit from hearing nurses' informed opinions more often.
When you are individually advocating for a sick child or a dying patient, you make sure the critical information you have to share gets heard. What if all nurses channeled that kind of forceful energy into focused conversations with politicians, journalists and members of the public, sharing concrete suggestions and positioning yourselves as integral partners in crafting and implementing solutions? The opportunities are numerous, and range from informal social interactions to more deliberate political interventions and engagement with both traditional and social media.
The upcoming New Brunswick election is a perfect opportunity to put these strategies into practice. NANB staff members have gathered relevant data and developed authoritative resources to support nurses in influencing what issues get talked about during the campaign. Whether you're speaking to a political canvasser at your front door, asking a question at an all-candidates meeting, or writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, speaking up about what you know gives you an opportunity to make clear how critical health care issues are for all citizens.
In the process of telling relevant stories - that include both hard data and emotionally rich context, drawn from your professional experience - you can help direct conversations, change attitudes and shape priorities.
Founder/Catalyst Informed Opinions
I have always been selective in disclosing that I am a RN and have never actively sought out opportunities to share my opinion in a public forum. This is in part because I've never viewed myself as a "political" person, however, I think I need to change the way I think about this. My voice can be heard and if it is joined with the voices of my colleagues it can influence change. I just have to take that first step......
Our health care system is under enormous pressure. To name a few, budgetary realities and access to primary health care. RNs and NPs are very well positioned and knowledgeable to participate/help decision-makers at addressing access to primary health care. Our system need to continue working forward and diligently in putting in place community based centers that will offer NB readily access to a primary care provider that can be an RN or/and NP. NPs and RNs can and should be part of the solution. We are over 8900 in NB, lets speak loudly, use our influence and knowledge and shape the future of access to health care.
There has never been a time greater than the present for registered nurses to speak up and become leaders in the profession. We need to have a strong and distinct voice in this sea of uncertainty and ambiguity that we are facing in health care. Our work environments are stressful and we are not able to complete all of the nursing duties that we need or would like to do because of being over -worked and under-staffed. We are also losing our identity as a profession because of our responsibilities being given to other staff. Because of the new model of health care we will only be 15% of the healthcare staff while LPN's are 15% and PSWs 70%. Hard to believe that RNs will become the minority. Will we just stand back and allow for this to happen? We also need to be leaders so that we will be able to utilize tools that will help us to provide the best care possible to our patients. For example, technology in nursing is inevitable-it will happen more and more in the future but because of organizational policies we are unable to utilize such things as mobile devices in our workplace to complete such things as accessing evidence based information, looking up drugs, educating patients and their families, etc--but other disciplines are using them-like physicians. Are we any less valuable than they are? Absolutely not. Registered nurses needs to stand up and fight for our distinction and be appreciated and respected for the integral part we play in healthcare!
I have been a RN since 1971, then a NP in Ontario with the first pioneers who led the way in expanding the role for Nurses.We have cycled through the same issues since the 1970's-health promotion, disease prevention, consumer accountability. We have conducted endless research projects, round-tables, Senate hearings, and provincial dialogues with our constituents. My concern as a nursing educator now is 'how come we have not been able to get a buy in from the public regarding their own sense of responsibility for keeping themselves and their families well? What have we missed? It is our job as Health Care Professionals not only to help those recovering from illness; but also to engage folks in the discussion about how to stay well, prevent chronic illnesses, prevent needless runs to the ER, and to take action from a more sustainable and cost effective process. Secondly, there is hope for all of the RN's who are feeling displaced with the layoffs in hospitals. The future for them lays in the provision of nursing services in the community. Globally, the world is responding to the needs of our growing elder population by ensuring seniors stay in their homes for as long as possible. The future for RN's is in the community providing health care and leadership to a multitude of community projects including clinics, home care, and answering the call for the 'neighborhood nurse.' To those RN's who feel that they are being displaced, do not give up. Be resilient and think of how much your community needs your knowledge, skills, professionalism, leadership and most importantly your critical thinking skills. You have the capacity to be part of a growing ground floor movement that could ultimately change the way we do health care in Canada. Take heart. Our voices will be heard at the tables of decision making if we collectively decide to assert our knowledge, utilize our communication skills and insist that RN's are here to stay. The NP movement in Canada developed its momentum and strength to impact the rest Canada by utilizing these same skills.
I am part of the branch of nursing specializing in long term care. I see an unsettling imbalance between 1) the northern and southern parts of the province and 2) the priority of long term care within the health care system as whole. I fear for the lack of impact voices from the northern part of the province will carry at the legislative level in Fredericton. The needs of the elderly are the same regardless of the location within the province and I think there should be careful consideration given to the demographics, both linguistically and with respect to the percentages of elderly within the total population, regardless of location. The needs are the same and our province is small enough to be able to look at the whole province as a single entity as far as long term care is concerned. Keeping our elderly patients/residents in their own homes is much less costly than institutionalized care and therefore we should financially augment that segment of the health care system so as to attract adequate manpower. Nurses can lend their voices to : eliminating imbalances and lobbying for proper allocation of resources.
I agree that RNs are losing their identity. I have been a R.N. since 1984. I have always been proud of my profession and the knowledge, skills, etc I have acquired over the years. I would still like to see RNs as the major health care provider on the front lines. This is not the case anymore. There is now an identity crisis here as others are being educated to perform our duties and what are we as a professional body doing about it? We will continue to lose positions if our role continues to become less definitive.