President's Message: "I Am A Nurse"

By Mary Rita Hurley, RN, MPA, FNGNA

I am hopeful this month that our East coast members and colleagues have survived the Polar Vortex. I was receiving text messages at the height of the blizzards letting me know that once again the bag was packed and they were sleeping in their respective institutions. My initial reaction was, “I remember those times I spent all night, as well.” But, those experiences brought back that sense of pride and camaraderie for our profession. We consistently stay calm, assess the immediate situation, assist in the creation of the plan, implement it, and then evaluate the outcomes with our peers. Sounds like the nursing process! This skill set should not be taken lightly. Our education and clinical practice has honed these skills. We need to own who we are and what we bring to every environment we inhabit. Our skills can be transferred to any setting, especially in everyday life.
We need to identify ourselves as nurses within our communities, churches, professional organizations, and yes, even on a plane! We consistently have unique opportunities to communicate to the public that we serve, what it is we actually do.
There is no better time for us to identify ourselves than right now.   The Affordable Care Act (ACA) deadline for choosing a plan is March 2014.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, and HRSA Administrator, Dr. Mary Wakefield, participated in a call in January. One topic of discussion was the important work that nurses are doing in order to help their communities better understand the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace outreach and enrollment. Secretary Sebelius and Dr. Wakefield both began their presentations by thanking nurses all across the country for the work they extend to their patients and families. They recognize the high value ofnurses and have experienced the important work that nurses do in their communities through education about healthcare. Nurses are demonstrating their impact by developing Outreach programs in Philadelphia and having members of their communities show their ‘new’ insurance cards. Psych/Mental Health nurses are assisting uninsured individuals to obtain the insurance they need. This promotes a decrease in long deferred medical attention. Another nurse works with the Health Department in her state as a Certified Marketplace Navigator. She works closely with her state’s nursing association presenting webinars to nurses – giving them the information they need to educate their communities. A nurse in the southwest is helping people in her state with the bilingual education information.
My dear colleagues, we are helping to shape the IOM’s new model of care. We know our patients, residents, clients, and families better than anyone. We are the 24/7 healthcare professionals.  The time is now - to inform the country that we are researchers, educators and highly trained clinicians. Yes, we are compassionate and caring but it is the science of what we do that makes us who we are. No matter where you are, please be proud when you say, “ I am a Nurse.”
All the best,
Mary Rita Hurley, RN, MPA, FNGNA