orm_february-2024 - 3

EDITORIAL
www.ormanager.com
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Vol. 40, No. 2 February 2024 * OR Manager (ISSN 8756-8047)
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was fresh out of the OR when I
received a formal job offer from OR
Manager. Although still hazy from
an emergency laparoscopic appendectomy,
I knew I would accept, reasoning
the universe must be trying to tell me
something.
I
I also had no doubts about the
other, very different choices before me
that day-assuming I could find a way
to make them. While I was confined to
a hospital bed, my fellow Ohioans were
heading to the polls to decide the statewide
fate of abortion rights, recreational
marijuana, and more. Without generous
assistance from a nurse who helped me
to submit my request for an emergency
absentee ballot by the 3 pm deadline,
my voice might not have been heard.
Shortly after, election officials delivered
the requested ballot, watched me fill
it out, then personally took it to the
county board of elections office.
My new job brought new perspective
on not just my election day experience,
but also that of nurses like the one
who helped me. Their work cannot be
interrupted for a visit to the polls. How
many of them had cast votes that day?
They had advocated for me, but who
had advocated for them?
This year's national contest is
still months away. However, it is not
too early for
leaders to be thinking
about how to flex schedules, provide
resources toward the absentee voting
process, or otherwise help their teams
participate in our democracy. Politics
aside, nurses and nurse leaders must
find ways to balance their voting right
with their duties. They also must decide
whether and how to participate beyond
just voting.
Critical choices
I did not ask the nurse who helped me
whether she voted. Regardless, she
and I are fortunate to be citizens of a
state that offers no-excuse absentee
voting-that is, voters do not have to
explain why they are unable to visit the
polls on election day. Elsewhere, absentee
voting is more complicated.
Nurses and those who lead them
need a plan, particularly in an election
www.ormanager.com
with high stakes for healthcare workers.
To name one example, licensing
issues give physicians and nurses a
more direct stake in abortion rights, an
issue that drove high general-populace
turnout even in Ohio's " off-year " election.
Other concerns range from healthcare
funding and education to specifics
like the passage of pending legislation
such as the Improving Care and Access
to Nurses (ICAN) Act, which aims to
improve access to APRNs for Medicare
and Medicaid patients.
Another consideration is travel
nurses, whose eligibility to vote
depends on where they live, not where
they work. And what about patients
like me? If the aforementioned nurse
had not grasped the urgency of my request,
we might have missed the deadline.
What if I had been hospitalized
farther away from the board of elections-or
worse, in another state? I
might have been able to vote from the
hospital, but only upon meeting additional
requirements (such as providing a
physician's signature). Even in another
" no-excuse " state, I might not have had
the luxury of bedside election service.
In short, I might have been tempted
to simply sit this one out. Faced with
a patchwork of election laws as well
as long hours and high stress, many
nurses might feel the same this year.
However, plenty of nurse advocacy
organizations stand ready to help.
Powerful voices
Upon conceiving this editorial,
the
idea of listing useful links to politically
active nursing groups became more
of an exercise than I anticipated (the
Resources section below is anything but
comprehensive). I have always known
on some level that nurses speak loudly
in politics, but this Google rabbit hole
seemed endless.
For some organizations, goals
are loftier than merely encouraging
political participation. One example is
Healing Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit
501(c)3 organization dedicated to
inspiring and training nurses and midwives
to run for office. This past May,
the organization hosted its inaugural
OR Manager | February 2024
3
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