Let’s face it. Sometimes, nurses have it rough. Even before the start of COVID-19, nursing had one of the highest rates of burnout of any profession. This was, in part, a result of overwork and unconventional hours, both of which have only been accentuated by the pandemic.  

At the American Nursing Association – Illinois, we know nurses need support. And that’s why we’ve got our members’ backs. We spoke with a number of members to get their perspective on how ANA-IL can help. Read on for some stories of how ANA-IL offered encouragement, support, and assistance to its members. 

ANA-IL Support with Legislation

Without a doubt, the most prominent way that our organization supports nurses is through the legislative process. 

According to member Jane Miller, “ANA-IL has an extensive public policy statement.  It helps guide experienced lobbyists in an ongoing effort to inform members of legislative activity, solicit member lobbying efforts, and establish relationships with state legislators by nurse constituents.”

In addition, ANA-IL also assists nurses who want to suggest new legislation. Member Martha Dewey said “I have a colleague who is interested in promoting smoke evacuation in the operating room. Surgical smoke and aerosol are present in a lot of procedures, and without smoke evacuation, they can cause respiratory issues, so it’s an important issue. ANA-IL was able to put her in touch with the right people and is helping her through the entire process.”

ANA-IL Support with Education

In addition to helping with all aspects of legislation, ANA-IL also offers education on a variety of topics, including public policy. 

Member Julio Santiago stated, “Public Policy is not always clear and does not always draw the attention of nurses in the way that it’s written and presented. Nurses may look at legislation from the perspective of their own work area, but may miss an opportunity to see how it may affect nursing or health policy negatively. For example, I knew a nurse who was interested in obtaining a multistate license under the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). The NLC  provides a multistate license that allows nurses to practice with patients across state lines, and it benefits nurses in multiple ways. Unless you are wanting to practice in border states or practice in telehealth, the nurse may not be interested in the change in legislation. The ANA-IL was able to provide information to her on all of this and more.”  

Member Alma Labunski stresses the importance of continuing education. “In my view, what is critically important is that, as professionals, we continue our learning, be it formally and/or informally throughout our lives. ANA-IL consults with members about their needs for development, and then offers continuing education sessions related to those needs.”

ANA-IL Nurse Lobby Day

Another great example of how ANA-IL helps its members is through the “Nurse Lobby Day” event. The annual event, which focuses on both legislation and education, allows nurses to remain engaged in the political process and continue to advocate for our profession. While Nurse Lobby Day 2021 has yet to be scheduled, more information about past Nurse Lobby Days can be found here.  

Nurse Lobby Day holds a special place in the heart of member Karen Kelly. Karen said, “I attended my first nurse lobby day more than 35 years ago. The skills I used to fight the state of Illinois’ effort to close state operated developmental centers, including one where my severely autistic son lives, were skills I learned as a grassroot lobbyist on nursing and healthcare legislation. The annual nurse lobby day is an important educational experience to help nurses appreciate and understand the relevance of legislation and policy to their everyday practice.” 

Member Elizabeth Aquino points out that, the hope, is that the work done at Nurse Lobby Day extends beyond just the one day in Springfield. “Nurse lobby day helps to teach and engage nurses in advocacy work. The Nurses4Nurses webpage, a collaboration between ANA-IL and the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing, offers a platform to support nurses running for office.” 

ANA-IL Offers Support

No matter your issue, the American Nursing Association – Illinois is here to help. If you’re interested in becoming a member, please take a look at our membership page. Nurses in Illinois — whether or not they are members –, are encouraged to reach out to us through the contact page on our website. We know the challenges that nurses tackle every single day, and we are here to offer support.