By Samantha Karam, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director

Nurses Deserve More Media Representation

The media fails to represent nurses as leaders in health care. Only 2% of health articles included nurses as sources, Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, and colleagues reported in a 2017 study. In a June 26, 2020, opinion piece published in USA Today, Mason called on universities and medical institutes to offer more nurses as sources for journalists, rather than just physicians.

More importantly, more of our nurses should be sitting at decision-making tables in health care—yet in 2018 only 4% of hospital boards included a nurse,” Mason wrote. “Across the board, we ignore nurses and their insights at our peril.

Mason said that gender bias may be a contributing factor. “Women are already underrepresented in the media, and women make up nearly 90% of the nursing workforce,” she said.

The perspective article raises a long-overdue awareness of the need for nurses to take a bold stand and raise their voices in the public policy arena. Building on the momentum of 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the 200th anniversary of the Florence Nightingale’s birth, now is the time for nurses to stand up and be counted in health care, the media, and at the ballot box—even as potential candidates.

To learn more about ONS advocacy or to get involved, visit the ONS Center for Advocacy and Health Policy ONS Center for Advocacy and Health Policy.

Scope-of-Practice Changes During COVID-19 Affect Future Care

As the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic expanded across the nation, many states temporarily relaxed their scope-of-practice (SOP) regulations. However, healthcare professionals are debating over what the “new normal” will be. Authors in a June 29, 2020, Health Affairs article outlined three key considerations for health policy and overall communication with healthcare professionals:

  • The power of telehealth has been incredibly beneficial during the pandemic and the authors encouraged states to avoid “reverting to the prepandemic restrictions” on telehealth.
  • An organizational justice imperative addresses healthcare professionals’ concerns about safety and fair treatment while at work. The authors warned that reinstating strict SOPs could critically damage employer-employee relations, so state legislators must act with caution.
  • A focus on gratitude and evidence is crucial in all communications with healthcare professionals to “consistently acknowledge the tremendous contributions and sacrifices healthcare providers have made during the pandemic.”

“Swift relaxation of SOP regulations was necessary to build health care workforce capacity during the pandemic,” the authors said. “To avoid detrimental effects on the well-being of healthcare providers, decisions on whether to roll-back SOP changes should not be equally swift.”

The many changes in health care in response to COVID-19 have shown us what could be better. With the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ waivers for nurse practitioners in how, when, and where they can practice during the pandemic, the United States is finally progressing a 10-year-old recommendation from the Institute of Medicine’s seminal Future of Nursing report that all nurse be able to practice to the full extent of their licensure and education.

More answers are needed on how this will continue to be implemented once the national emergency ends. Nurses won't go back, nor should they. Join in on the conversation by getting involved in ONS advocacy.