Authors

  1. Wilding, Marci
  2. Zimmerman, Kim

Abstract

Send a message on November 7th.

 

Article Content

As election day draws near, political ads and literature from candidates for local, state, and national offices are crowding the airwaves and mailboxes. On November 7, 2000, every seat in the House of Representatives, one-third of the seats in the Senate, and the office of the president will be in the hands of the American people.

 

Legislative and executive branches of the government play a major role in the development and implementation of laws and regulations addressing issues that confront nurses every day. These include managed care reform, health and safety in the work-place, mandatory overtime, and safe staffing, among others.

 

THE POWER OF THE POLLS

The recent defeat in the Senate of the Patients' Bill of Rights shows how important good representation can be. If just one more senator had supported this vital piece of legislation, the vote would have been tied, and the vice president would likely have cast the deciding approving vote. (The legislation is still viable, however, and will be voted on again before the Senate adjourns for the year.) This clearly illustrates how important the nursing vote is-the candidates we elect to office will have the power to change the face of health care. By taking the time to vote, nurses make their voices heard and embrace the power that their vote has to offer.

 

"Every voter, particularly the health care professional, has a duty to vote to ensure that health care is changed for the better," says South Dakota Nurses Association member Deb Soholt, MS, RN, CNA. Soholt is a leader of the Nurses Strategic Action Team, the ANA's grassroots network for nurses. She describes voting as doing "good for the whole." Soholt adds, "Who better to speak for the whole than nurses?"

 

"Nurses should view political involvement as the means to controlling both their personal lives and their professional nursing practices," says Georgia Nurses Association member Fran Beall, ANP, CS, who holds a seat on the ANA's Political Action Committee (ANA-PAC) Board of Trustees.

 

SIMILAR PRIORITIES

Voting enables nurses to use their education, experience, and expertise to choose candidates who will take nursing concerns seriously. Not voting is rejecting that opportunity. Although some members of Congress and administration officials are well informed about issues of concern in the health care delivery system and understand the importance of safe, high-quality health care, more needs to be done. The most effective way to accomplish this is to send individuals who share our priorities to Congress and the White House.

 

"The members elected will decide whether nursing's priorities will be put on the front burner or relegated to the back burner in public policy debates," says ANA President Mary E. Foley, MS, RN. "By choosing the right people to serve us, the Patients' Bill of Rights could be signed into law, needlestick legislation could be enacted, and the issue of staffing could be fully addressed. These issues are critical to the nursing profession, and so is your vote on November 7."

 

For a list of ANA-PAC endorsed candidates, go to http://www.nursingworld.org/gova/federal/anapac/camp9900.htm. The ANA's Government Affairs staff can also provide information on individual races (see above).

 

CHOOSING A CANDIDATE

Need help sorting out the candidates in your area and their positions on issues of concern to nursing? Contact the ANA for guidance. Check the following list to find the political action specialist covering your area.

 

Sheila Roit

(202) 651-7090 or sroit@ana.org Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virgin Islands, West Virginia

 

Marci Wilding

(202) 651-7087 or mwilding@ana.org Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

 

Mary Marra

(202) 651-7092 or mmarra@ana.org Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia

 

Kim Zimmerman

(202) 651-7086 or kzimmerm@ana.org Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin