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MSNA, NNU annual meeting

I returned yesterday from a meeting with the hardest working group in Maine,  the Maine State Nurses Association.  They not only care for patients, face to face and day to day, they work for ways to better advocate for their patients.  They fight for better and safer care through patient practice committees and with legislative work.  They actively lobby for better/safer practices for nurses and for patients. 

Who better to advocate for patients?  We know that there is a necessity for managment nurses, but they are not in direct contact with patients.  They do not hear the complaints of patients who feel they are not getting good enough care or long enough attention.  They do not see or ease  the suffering of patients and they do not interact with the families of the suffering.  They are in the middle, between the bugetary constraints of top executives and the demands of patients.  So, managment nurse just don’t “get it”.  MSNA nurses GET IT!

The nurses I talked with and listened to, both as speakers and as individuals over the past two days are the best.  They keep themselves abreast of the latest nursing skills and science.  They belong to committees to improve patient care.  They take legislation to Maine legislators and Federal representatives for improved nurse:patient ratios,  and to promote single payer insurance, and safe lifting practices for nurses and their patients.  This is just the tip of the iceburg.

Last year they lobbied for my legislative proposal for MRSA prevention in the State of Maine.  I talked with a lot of nurses over the two day period.  I expected some criticism of the new law and instead got praise, enthusiasm, and hundreds of questions.  I believe most of them understood the need for change and improved infection prevention. These nurses are so engaged and progressive.  They welcome change that will improve quality and safety for their patients and themselves.

I ran into an old friend from a small town hospital that I helped to organize a union in the early 80s.  She said she thought the interest in their union is waning.  My response was “let me at em”.   I hope to go there with some of the other original members of that union and tell the young nurses what it was like without a union.  I’ll tell them how any reason was good enough to fire you.  How fickle and unfair management was and how acceptable it was to ‘play favorites”.   I will tell them how it took almost 3 years and 2 votes to get that union.  It was hard fought and not easily won.  The political climate did not favor unions in the early 80s.   The NLRB held up the union for a very long time.

MSNA is now part of the CNA, NNOC, NNU, which is emerging as the biggest nursing union in the country.  Power means improvements for patients and nurses.  Empowered nurses means empowered patients.

So, the two days at the MSNA NNU (National Nurses United) event were awe inspiring and stimulating.  I hope to stay in touch with several of them and  I hope to exchange knowledge with them.

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