By Alec Stone, MA, MPA, ONS Director of Health Policy

“I’m just a nurse, no one is going to listen to me.” I hear this from ONS members all the time, and it’s simply not true.

Nurse are advocates by profession and personality. How many times have you intervened on behalf of a patient with a hospital, physician, or insurance company? More than you can count is my guess, proving the point that as a nurse, everyone does listen to you. The same can be said in the political and policy environment.

Nurses continue to be a powerful voice for health care. For more than 15 years, nurses have been known as the most trusted profession. The patient is at the center of all that you do—and everyone knows it. That is where the trust comes from.

With less than a year before the 2016 presidential election, there are few opportunities for leveraging commitment from politicians. Nurses, and oncology nurses in particular, can speak to patient-centered care, coordinated care, NIH research, HRSA education, FDA tobacco programs, and CMS coverage issues better than most. Presidential candidates are eager, in fact they are desperate, to hear from nurses.

Washington may be dysfunctional, but talking to your state and federal representatives at home can shift the policy agenda in unexpected ways, making champions out of skeptics. This coming year is a time to raise awareness for nursing issues.

Join us at Congress for “Election 2016: Donkey or Elephant, Educate the Candidates on Oncology Nursing Issues,” and learn about the candidates, their positions, and how to better enlighten the parties and politicians on the health policy issues that are important to you.