Thumbs Up or Down? A Closer Look at #NursesTakeDC Staffing Rally

In recent years, the nursing profession has seen a sharp decline in new members. Indeed, a nursing shortage is happening all around the globe as fewer and fewer people enter the field. With dwindling resources, there is a lack of incentive for young students to enter nursing school. In addition, the shortage of nurses has resulted in a shortage of nurse educators, which means that even if there was a massive influx of potential nursing students, there aren’t enough faculty to provide instruction. Each year, thousands of students are declined admission to nursing school just because there aren’t enough teachers.

The staffing problems experienced by hospitals and clinics around the US are having some dangerous results. There have been several documented accounts of unnecessary patient deaths that occurred solely because there was insufficient staffing. A hospital with serious staffing issues is more likely to have these unintended deaths occur.

So what can be done to prevent harm to patients? In essence – better staffing ratios. In the last few years, a movement has grown a large following of nurses that encourage appropriate staffing levels in facilities. This movement is known as #NursesTakeDC. Here’s what you need to know about it.

The Beginning

In 2015, a Miss America contestant performed her introductory monologue for the talent portion of the contest mentioning that she was a nurse. In her speech, she brought attention to the hard job that nurses have and how they are struggling to cope with so many patients and so few nurses. All appeared fine until later when a cohost on the TV program The View made “disparaging comments” about the contestant. Nurses and others in healthcare took immediately to social media and the internet to show their support for her and to bring attention to the plight of current nurses.

With nurses all around the country coming together online to support one of their own, it quickly became apparent that there was strength in numbers and that they could stand together to fight for a worthy cause: the need for better staffing and nurse to patient ratios.

From there, a handful of registered nurses gathered together to plan a rally in Washington, DC to demand an audience with legislators about implementing legislation “mandating nurse-to-patient ratios.” The rally was to be called NursesTakeDC, and together with the group Show Me Your Stethoscope (SMYS), they work to encourage better staffing.

The Goals of NursesTakeDC

Essentially, the movement is focused on the following three goals.

  1. Uniting Nurses

While the overarching goal is to ensure proper staffing in organizations around the nation, uniting nurses towards a common objective is where it all begins. Reaching out to nurses and getting their support is crucial for the movement to continue.

  1. Educate Others

From nurses and doctors to those inside and outside the world of healthcare, NursesTakeDC strives to educate the masses about the problems they are facing and how legislation can help with those issues. The more knowledgeable people are of the current plight of nurses, the more people will offer support for the legislation, and we all know that legislators won’t implement things unless they have pressure from the people.

  1. Get Others Involved

It’s not enough for people to just know about the problem; they also need to get involved. Phone calls and emails to legislators are a good start, and so is calling them out on social media. People are also highly encouraged to visit their legislators in person for a more potent effect.

The Results

2020 will mark the 4th rally event for the movement. Previous rallies have seen hundreds of nurses show up in DC to listen to speakers, be involved in ongoing discussions and problem-solving sessions, and to petition legislators for help.

While there has been some progress in nurse-to-patient ratios and better staffing, it is yet to be seen whether or not these rallies are having a marked effect where it is needed. However, regardless of the future outcomes of the rallies, one clear benefit is that nurses have begun banding together to support each other and stand next to one another as friends and allies.