Editorial by the Nursing Tri-Council, an alliance between the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Nurses Association, the American Organization for Nursing Leadership, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, and the National League for Nursing
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented pain, grief, and destruction to the health and well-being of our nation’s citizens and economy. So far four million cases have been confirmed in the U.S., with more than 150,000 deaths. Nurses and physicians, plus the hospitals and other health care settings where they work, have been stretched to their limits.
At the same time, tens of thousands of businesses have closed. The unemployment rate, in a population of roughly 326,000,000, is over 11 percent. More than 20 million people have been furloughed or fired since the pandemic began. And an economic depression like this one brings its own additional health care crises as employer-based health insurance is lost, along with jobs and wages.
As the most trusted professionals on the frontline of health care delivery, nurses have much to contribute to the political realities on the ground and to the political conversations surrounding health care policy initiatives. Our opinions carry weight; our needs are taken seriously. Now more than ever, the voices of nurses must be heard loud and clear in November.
Given the urgency of our national and international health crisis, the Tri-Council for Nursing—the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL), the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), and the National League for Nursing (NLN)—urges you to exercise your power to vote. Consider supporting candidates who will place nursing and nursing education priorities front and center and have action plans in place to address them.
Our priorities include:
- Endorsing the wearing of face masks in public settings where social distancing is impossible or difficult to achieve.
- Protecting and supporting licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) on the frontlines of this crisis with personal protective equipment (PPE) and fair and equitable payroll protection.
- Boosting investments in public health, including infrastructure.
- Providing a supplemental increase in funding for Title VIII nursing workforce development to assure an adequate supply of nurses for the future.
- Investing in nursing research through the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
We appreciate and support the bipartisan efforts by Congress and the Trump administration to recognize the importance of nursing during the pandemic by reauthorizing the Title VIII programs and waiving regulatory obstacles to nursing practice—though more needs to be accomplished.
As Election Day nears and voting by mail commences, we call upon all nurses to carefully weigh the positions, proposals, and legislative voting records of candidates who aspire to elected office, whether that be in their local areas or states, or at the national level. We must ensure that nurses have the resources they need to treat patients suffering from this harmful and deadly virus.
COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic our world ever faces. Nurses, as frontline health care professionals, will always be at greater risk than many others. As the stakes are higher than ever this year, vote like your life depends on it. Because honestly, it does.
The Tri-Council for Nursing is an alliance between the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Nurses Association, the American Organization for Nursing Leadership, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, and the National League for Nursing. While each organization has its own constituent membership and unique mission, they are united by common values and convene regularly for the purpose of dialogue and consensus building, to provide stewardship within the profession of nursing. These organizations represent nurses in practice, nurse executives and nursing educators. The Tri-Council’s diverse interests encompass the nursing work environment, health care legislation, and policy, quality of health care, nursing education, practice, research and leadership across all segments of the health delivery system.