Standing up and speaking out

September / October 2017   Comments

Every nurse I know is political. My definition of being political is supporting evidence, making informed choices and then persuading others in a call to action. Clinical practice and advocacy are very closely aligned. That is why nurses take the lead in knowledge translation and patient education in the clinical arena and stand up and speak out for what matters for the health of the population in the community. It just comes naturally.

In this issue, you will find information about three position statements the CNA board approved in June. They cover international trade and labour mobility, environmental health and climate change. It is important that the national professional association has a voice about issues that are top of mind for Canadians. These are health issues because health is a resource for everyday living, and not just the absence of disease. Read these documents, use these documents, ask the questions, start the conversation — be political.

I had the privilege of representing CNA at the July Council of the Federation meeting in Edmonton. The gathering of premiers is a very obvious opportunity to be political, and CNA took that opportunity seriously. While there, staff from CNA and the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta and I had one-on-one meetings with Alberta MLAs and MPs and conversations with 11 of the 13 premiers. We talked about home care, mental health, the opioid crisis, legalization of cannabis, medical assistance in dying, integrated health systems, the role of NPs and NAFTA renegotiation. Good thing I am a talker! I also had the opportunity to participate on a panel with the New Brunswick premier, the Alberta health minister, an Indigenous leader and community activists to talk about access to reproductive health options for Canadian women. #YESThisIsNursing.

The International Council of Nurses’ definition of nursing states, “Nursing includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people. Advocacy, promotion of a safe environment, research, participation in shaping health policy and in patient and health systems management, and education are also key nursing roles.” Position statements about climate change, conversations about NAFTA and promoting national home care indicators are all part of nurses’ essential contribution to our country and our world. Be a nurse and be political. Canadians count on us.

Barb Shellian, RN, BN, MN

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