Use Your Voice! Use Your Vote!
by Zak Matieschyn, BSN, MN, RN, NP(Family)
I bet every nurse in the province is celebrating the return of warm weather, sunny days and the end of what was for many a frustrating and long winter. For me, one of the big changes coming in the next few months is the end of my presidency of ARNBC and all that comes with that – the election of a new Board, the end of some of my travels for association business and changing the focus of my life back to the real world. But like spring itself, it is also a time for new opportunities and new growth.
All of this got me thinking about another thing that spring brings us every four years – an election!
Nursing is a political act and we get political when we speak out about situations or practices in our work environments that do not put patients first, when we question the upstream causes of the illnesses and poor health, and when we advocate for social justice.
But an election provides opportunity for a different kind of political act.
Love it or hate it, this is a time where we as citizens have a say about the direction our province is heading. It’s a time where the average British Columbian has unprecedented access to speak with incumbent MLAs seeking re-election, as well as other potential candidates hoping to represent their areas.
As one of the nearly 40,000 RNs and NPs in B.C., you are part of a very powerful voice. You are a member of the largest single group in the healthcare workforce, and one of the largest and most respected professions in our province. You have an opportunity to ask hard questions, work to influence peers on the platforms you love or hate and consider what each party is bringing forward in terms of what will support your patients and your profession.
So let me send out a challenge to you. Every election is an important referendum of issues. These issues are defined in part by what the trending concerns of the public are. Use your power as the intelligent and thoughtful healthcare leaders you are. Take the time to get informed on the issues and to learn about each party’s platform (to that end, ARNBC has made this easier – visit our provincial election toolkit). Talk to the candidates running in your riding. Go to all-candidates forums to hear what they have to say. Ask them a healthcare question.
Together, let’s get our political candidates talking about healthcare this election. And when you’ve heard what you need to hear to make an informed choice, make sure you go and vote this May 9th.
Let’s make the voice of nursing count.
ABOUT ZAK MATIESCHYN
Zak’s interest in health and healing began at the early age of nine years old when he would carry a small first aid kit while playing with friends. Since then, his passion for healthcare and health policy has been unwavering. He was particularly inspired by concepts of family, community and societal health, as well as the social determinants of health during his undergraduate (BSN UVic, 2000), graduate work (MN UVic, 2008), and clinical experience in urban, rural and remote B.C. communities.
Zak has served on numerous boards and committees, including the BC Nurse Practitioner Association Executive and was the first Nurse Practitioner in B.C. to be invited to sit on a Division of Family Practice Board (Kootenay Boundary, 2010 – 2014). Through this work he has gained valuable experience in member engagement, optimizing board governance, and relationship building among diverse stakeholders. In his clinical practice, Zak has worked med/surg, emergency, intensive care, vascular access and outpost nursing. After obtaining his NP education in 2008, he began a practice in a West Kootenay family clinic, providing primary healthcare to the general public with a focus on marginalized populations. Zak is President of the Association of Registered Nurses of BC.
Thanks, Zak. I think at times we forget the political power that we can have as a profession and as individual nurses. I appreciate the provincial election toolkit--it's great to have a place where the issues are highlighted and we can learn of the different perspectives and commitments of the candidates. I will be sure to attend forums in my community.
Thank you, Zak, for your blog post and for the reminder to use our voice as nurses in the provincial election. In the countdown to Election Day, ARNBC's excellent election toolkit is worth visiting regularly - I appreciate the work that has gone into developing the content and the updates on the party platforms.
I commend our professional association for this leadership and urge you to continue this vital work in policy advocacy between elections as demonstrated by ARNBC since its inception.