NEWS
May 16, 2022

Nurses March on U.S. Capitol For Safe Staffing, Equal Pay and Workplace Safety

Nurses March on U.S. Capitol For Safe Staffing, Equal Pay and Workplace Safety
Kathleen Gaines
By: Kathleen Gaines News and Education Editor, MSN, RN, BA, CBC

Image via ABC News

On Thursday, May 12th the United “Million” Nurses March started at the Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC, and ended at the Capitol. 

There are several reasons the march was held including, 

  • Patient to Nurse Ratio: Continued increase in acuity and the rise in staffing shortages contributes to a decrease in the quality of patient care.
  • Violence Against Nurses: Attention needs to address protecting nurses from verbal and physical abuse from patients and colleagues.
  • Racism Against Nurses: The support of our Black and Brown nurses specifically African- American nurses is needed. They have historically experienced bias and racism from patients and colleagues.
  • Equal Nursing Wages For All: As a profession, the nursing industry has not been financially aligned with the service it provides.

Nurseify’s CNO/COO said, “Nurses deserve fair wages that are not capped. Nurses deserve a safe environment to care for their patients without worrying about violence from patients. Nurses deserve safe patient ratios in all clinical settings. Nurses also deserve an environment free from bias and racial discrimination. It will take effort and unity from all of us to see these changes and the march is an important step in that direction.”

National Nurses March, the organizers of the march, is an organization that “value peaceful lifting of our nurse voices united on a national level in an effort to be heard that will promote change nationally for nurses for fair realistic wages; including no caps, safe staffing, no violence against healthcare workers, and changing the culture of the biases and discriminations in the nursing profession.”

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According to the website and official Facebook group, National Nurses March make it very clear that they are not:

  • A strike
  • A riot
  • A protest
  • A platform for vaccine mandates or the abolition thereof National Nurses March does not facilitate, sponsor, or encourage a working strike. If individuals so choose to go on strike of their own accord that is their right. It is not a goal of National Nurses March. National Nurses March does not weigh in on vaccine mandates one way or the other. That is an issue of individual importance. It is not part of the mission of National Nurses March.
  • National Nurses March is not a protest and does not encourage protest movements. If individuals choose to protest in their own places of work or living that is their right. It is not a goal or focus of National Nurses March.
  • National Nurse March in no way supports or encourages any form of rioting on any subject whatsoever. 

Image: United Nurses March

Prior to the march, there was some controversy over the true purpose of the march. What started as a march solely in hopes of getting Congress to pass different legislation that will keep nurses safe as well as increase wages turned into much more.  Nurses bonded over their love of the profession but also their grief from the last three years. 

"None of us want to leave bedside nursing," Cindy Reuss said. "But we cannot do it. With eight to ten patients, it's not safe. We just want the opportunity to be good nurses." Reuss recently left her job after 17 years due to unsafe staffing and patio ratios. 

The reality is that nursing is one of the few professions in which a patient or family member can cause bodily harm to the nurse and there are minimal repercussions. Nurses are not allowed to fight back when hit or attacked. Nurses are highly discouraged from pressing charges. Nurses are sick of it. 

"Put your hands on a cop, you go to jail. Put your hands on a nurse and you can come back next week," Thomas Fernandes said, a critical care travel nurse who had a patient shatter a meth pipe on his head with no repercussions.

Image via ABC News

Nurses Take To Instagram

Veronica Marshall, from the Philadelphia region, has been a nurse for over 24 years and is one of the main organizers of the National Nurses March. 

“Our voices, we need to be heard,” Veronica said. Nurses were expected to travel from all over the country for the march, which was even more timely because of the sentencing of RaDonda Vaught the next day. 

Marshall encouraged participants to post stories to Instagram from the day to help those not able to be present at the March. Under the #nursesmarch  hundreds of pictures and videos were posted  in real-time. 

"This is a time where the health care industry and hospitals have made record profits while [nurses] are leaving the bedside," Adriane Carrier said. "50,000 more nurses will be leaving the bedside. There will be no more nurses to take care of Americans and our country and that is going to be the biggest tragedy of all." Adriane Carrier has been injured three times on the job and spent two and half years out of work. 

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