Lost in the outcry over attempts in Washington to dismantle the Affordable Care Act is a fact about nursing that can’t be similarly swept aside.
Under the Affordable Care Act, nurses were privileged to step up to meet the exploding health care needs of tens of millions of human beings previously denied coverage because of location, economic status, or pre-existing conditions. As a profession, we responded in ways beyond what others could have imagined. We knew what we had to do, and we did it.
Think of the nurse practitioner (NP), now enabled—and qualified—to provide care previously limited to physicians in many states. Where there are no physicians today in underserved or rural areas, very often there are NPs. Today, we have doctorally prepared nurses leading entire health systems as well as a revolution in patient-centered care. Nurses are behind tremendous advances in mental health, cancer, dementia, and HIV treatment and research.
Nursing’s growth has helped turn health care into an engine driving the U.S. economy while other industries have faltered. It has not been an easy transformation of the nation’s nursing work force, but the results have been unquestionably good for patients, for health care, and for the nation.
This is a challenging time, for caregivers as well as all Americans. Health care needs do not disappear with an affirmative vote and the sweep of a pen across paper. As nurses, we worry for our patients whose coverage is threatened. We worry about budgets if threatened cuts to Medicaid and Medicare go through. We worry about great strides in research being postponed. We wonder what good could possibly come of this. We make our voices heard. We hope that cooler heads and common sense prevail. We can do all those things.
We cannot go backward, nor will we. #WeGotThis
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: PATRICIA M. DAVIDSON
Patricia M. Davidson, PhD, MEd, RN, is dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and a fellow of the Australian College of Nursing, the American Heart Association, the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, and the American Academy of Nursing. She is counsel general of the International Council on Women’s Health Issues and actively involved in the international activities of Sigma Theta Tau International. Follow her on Twitter (@nursingdean).