By Milagros Elia, MA, APRN, ANP-BC 

Nurses often cite the fact that the profession is the most trusted, according to Gallup polls—as if that is enough to validate our profession’s status. Although the COVID-19 pandemic raised awareness for frontline workers, only recently have we begun to understand the nurse’s value in the health policy environment. Nurses have a real voice at the decision-making table, and Healing Politics’ Campaign School for Nurses and Midwives is helping to make strides.

ONS Members Join Campaign Seminar on Need for Nurses to Run for Office
ONS members Milagros Elia, MA, APRN, ANP-BC, Peggy Wilmoth, PhD, MSS, RN, FAAN, Lou Bartolo, DNP, MSN, RN, and Kelly Willenberg, DBA, BSN-RN

The conference was founded to provide nursing participants with the foundational tools necessary to engage in the policy arena. Fifty nurses attended the group’s first conference in May 2023. Participants spent two and a half days learning from U.S. Senators who are nurses, campaign consultants, journalists, and each other about what it takes to run for office. 

Among the ranks were four ONS members: myself, founder of M. Elia Nature-Based Healthcare Solutions in Shrub Oak, NY; Kelly Willenberg, DBA, BSN-RN, manager and chief executive officer of Kelly Willenberg, LLC, in South Carolina; Peggy Wilmoth, PhD, MSS, RN, FAAN, executive vice dean at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Nursing; and Lou Bartolo, MSN, RN, DNP, senior regulatory affairs associate for the National Marrow Donor Program in Minneapolis, MN.

Holding the number one trusted spot for two decades in a row is nice, but data points have little meaning unless nurses move into action and run for office to influence health policy development. Some nurses are already doing that, but Healing Politics can help nurses who might consider putting their names on the ballot.

The conference content focused on campaign finance, fund-raising, speaking with the media, and framing the message. We found that creating bold connections became our priority and made new friends and colleagues throughout the country. Attendees left inspired and ready to support all nurses who want to lend a hand to healthcare policies.