By Sadie Cross, RN
Mercy Hospital, Moose Lake
Student, Bemidji State University
As a baccalaureate student from Bemidji State University and an MNA member, I participated in the April 10 Student Nurses Day on the Hill as a listener, learner, critic, and advocate.
I must admit I was initially disappointed when the March MNA Nurses Day on the Hill was canceled due to weather, but now I can say I’m thankful my first experience at an MNA event was with other students.
I felt the morning session was a good introduction to MNA and the benefits of union membership and advocating for the nursing profession, which many nursing students may not be very familiar with. As a member of MNA who has a passion for political advocacy and leadership, I am not one who needs to be convinced of the importance of unions for our profession.
While Rose Roach, the MNA executive director, was giving her welcome address to the packed room, she could have been telling my story. As a single mother of two biracial daughters, her poignant description of our country’s welfare stigma and the racial disparities that infiltrate healthcare — and even MNA leadership itself — rings very true to me.
Attending SDOTH reignited my passion for these issues. It is easy for me to get bogged down in work, family, and school and set aside my extra-curricular, self-fulfilling passions, but now that I see the end of the school year in sight, I am excited to become more involved.
After the morning session, three other BSU students and I were able to meet with Minnesota Senator Tony Lourey. We covered many topics, including violence in the workplace, the opioid crisis, and single-payer healthcare reform. Senator Lourey was receptive and engaging, as our leaders should be.
It took away any reservations I previously had about speaking with my representatives. They are people too, and we are their voices and their job security. Neither representatives nor constituents should underestimate the power of that relationship.
The nursing students who attended this year’s Student Day on the Hill have chosen an educational path and career that is respected and rooted in caring for others. We educate ourselves for the sake of our families, our patients, and our communities. People trust nurses, and they should. It is no surprise that for the 16th year in a row, nurses are rated the most ethical and honest of all professions, according to an annual Gallup poll.
On the contrary, state officeholders, members of Congress, and lobbyists fall toward the bottom of that list. It seems to me that the most trusted professionals should be the voice of reason and reform. As nursing students, we need to use our education to promote policies that will not only protect our profession, but the health and safety of our patients.
C’mon nurses, we can do this! Let’s loosen the grip of ignorance and inequality on our society.