Becoming a Nurse Activist
Nurses can make a difference beyond the bedside by getting informed and taking a stand on issues that matter to them. A CNS from Cleveland Clinic offers five tips for becoming a nurse activist.
While earning her doctorate of nursing practice several years ago, Mary Beth Modic, DNP, RN, APRN-CNS, CDCES, FAAN, was challenged with a question in her health policy class: Have you done enough to justify your being on this planet? “We were asked to expand our thinking about nursing beyond our workplaces and professional organizations to the national and global level,” she says.
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When the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world in 2020, Modic was again reminded of the importance of nurses’ involvement in important societal issues. “It became very apparent that there were parts of our society suffering more than others, and all the necessary safety nets weren’t in place,” she says.
Modic is a vocal proponent for nurse activism. She is on the board of directors for the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) and frequently writes and calls her elected officials about public health issues that concern her, such as access to affordable medications and gun violence. She also encourages other nurses to speak out and get involved. She gave a podium presentation entitled, “Becoming a Nurse Activist – No Time Like the Present” at the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses’ 2020 Virtual Convention.
“We need to use our collective voices in ways that are proactive for patients,” says Modic. “We all have different interests, but we can use our intellect and skills to convey certain messages that we think are important.”
Modic offers five steps toward becoming a nurse activist.
Many healthcare organizations offer support for nurse activism. Cleveland Clinic reimburses nurses for certification exam fees and allows nurses such as Modic to devote a certain number of work hours per month to involvement in their professional organizations. In addition, the Nursing Institute created the Legislative and Health Policy Council in 2014 to influence political and practical issues that impact the nursing profession and delivery of healthcare. The council has dozens of nurse members and hosts an annual Legislative Health Policy Conference.
“There are so many nurses – more than 3.8 million nationwide,” says Modic. “If we use our collective voices in ways that are hopeful and productive, we can make a difference!”