Monday, April 30, 2018

Nurses Take DC 2018: Nurses' Voices Matter

On Thursday, April 26th, 2018, I had the distinct privilege and pleasure of speaking in front of the United States Capitol Building at the annual Nurses Take DC Rally for Nurse-Patient Ratios. With the iconic Capitol dome in the background and the Washington Monument directly in front of me as I spoke to hundreds of fired up nurses, it was a powerful moment for me as a nurse and as a motivational public speaker.

Nurse-Patient Ratios

You can learn a great deal about nurse-patient ratios by reading articles by my friend and colleague Beth Hawkes over on This article from January 2018 on AllNurses lays it all out, and Beth explains more over on her website, NurseCode, including what actions you can take to support the movement by lobby for the legislation that we believe is most promising.

California is the only state in the U.S. that has legislatively mandated ratios, and reports from that state are demonstrating that it's working. Although far from perfect, California nurses' experience seems to show us that having a mandated limit on the number of patients a nurse can care for on various units allows nurses to do their jobs more efficiently and safely.

Unfortunately, the American Nurses Association has come out against mandated ratios, and is instead siding with the American Hospital Association on bills that allow hospitals considerably more wiggle room. After much deliberation, I've come down on the side of mandated ratios, even though I'm a Board Member of the New Mexico Nurses Association, an active chapter of the ANA.

Nurses' Voices Matter

My speech at the Nurses Take DC rally focused on the power of nurses' voices and the fact that our voices matter in the larger picture. Speaking in that spot below the Capitol, I felt the weight and power of history around me, and I encourage you to watch the video of my speech over on the Nurses Rock Facebook page.

Nurses' voices matter in so many contexts, and your voice can be a part of the local, regional, national, or international conversation. A few ideas for using your voice include:
  1. Run for local, state, or national office in order to influence policy and legislation. You could run for mayor, city council, school board, state legislature, or even a seat in Congress!
  2. Write letters to the editor on subjects of importance to you. You have instant credibility as a nurse.
  3. Meet with your state or national legislators to discuss issues you care about.
  4. Use social media to share your opinion.
  5. Launch a blog, start a podcast, write a book, or become a freelance writer.
  6. Talk with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and peers. 
No matter where or how you share your voice, remember that having an opinion and sharing it with others is all about listening, speaking from your heart, taking a stand, and remaining flexible and curious all along the way.

Nurses, your voices matter, and however you share them, be proud of your position as a nurse and use it intelligently and strategically as a point of leverage and positive influence in a complicated world.


Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the well-known nursing blog, Digital Doorway. Please visit his online platforms and reach out for his support when you need it most.

Keith is the host of The Nurse Keith Show, his solo podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast.

As of May of 2018, Keith is the host of Mastering Nursing, an interview-style podcast showcasing inspiring, forward-thinking nurse thought leaders and innovators. 

A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century and Aspire to be Inspired: Creating a Nursing Career That Matters. He has contributed chapters to a number of books related to the  nursing profession. Keith has written for,, MultiBriefs News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline, StaffGarden, AusMed, American Sentinel University, the ANA blog,, American Nurse Today, Working Nurse Magazine, and other online and print publications.

Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, keynote speaker, online nurse personality and social media influencer, podcaster, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives, and his adorable and intelligent cat, George.

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