Why should nurses vote?
What’s at stake in this election for nurses? There are two vital issues; the economy and health care. In many ways these two issues are intertwined and they both impact nurses immensely.
In a struggling economy, be assured that hospital administrators will be making cuts to maintain some margin of profit or keep losses to a minimum. That means fewer nurses and a shortage of beds for those who need them most. In other health care settings, administrators will face similar financial decisions and will be making cutbacks in staffing as well.
As the economy began to take a turn for the worse several months ago, many non-active nurses returned to the field for their own financial security. This factor helped to temporarily address some of the shortage of nurses which in turn affected opportunities for foreign born nurses as well as travel nurses. With more permanent staff available, the need to help nurses immigrate or to use travel nurses has declined in some areas, and not in others.
Now as the economy worsens, the fear is that hospitals and other healthcare facilities will have to make mild to severe cutbacks. In states where mandatory nurse-to-patient ratios exist, hospitals will be forced to take a closer look at how much they can cut back and still offer quality healthcare in their communities. Mandatory overtime could and probably will become even more of an issue if that proves to be more economical for the facility.
Each of the Presidential candidates has expressed a view of the health care crisis in this country and has developed a comprehensive plan to address the issue. They have each made note of the nurse’s role in the health care system and expressed their level of support of nurses. After careful consideration, the American Nurses Association has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).
Each of the candidate’s plans for economic reform and for health care reform shows a deep concern for the American people in keeping with their own political party views.
The 2004 Presidential election was decided by a little more than 500 votes. This election stands to be a very close one as well. There are 2.9 million nurses in the U.S. and health care is the largest industry in this country. Your vote is very important. Please be sure to exercise your right to VOTE on November 4.
No matter who you vote for, the important issue is that you get out and VOTE on Nov. 4. Many states allow early voting to help those who may have scheduling conflicts on voting day. For nurses, this may be a very useful alternative, especially for those who work 7AM to 7PM and may not get to the polls in time to cast their ballot. Absentee ballots are another alternative, but it may be too late to request one now.
With rights come responsibilities. Make sure you make an informed choice. In many elections across the country, voters will be choosing state and local representatives as well as voting on ballot initiatives. Read your voter information carefully and research the candidates and issues; especially in regard to how they impact nurses and healthcare.
By Kathy Quan RN BSN. Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book and is author/owner of TheNursingSite.com.
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