When she first ran for office, now?U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski explained her transition from social worker to officeholder by claiming that, “Politics is social work with power.” A nurse could just as easily declare that “Politics is nursing with power.” After all, nurses have a huge stake in issues like availability of immunization and preventive services, access to Medicare and Medicaid, and controls on health care and medications, not to mention the regulation of the nursing profession itself. And nurses are notably effective communicators, helping individuals to resolve problems and meet needs, bridging gaps in awareness and understanding. Why shouldn’t nurses apply their ethos of caring, their extensive knowledge, and their interpersonal skills to the larger world of public service?
Encouraging nurses – and women age 45 and up who are professionals in other fields underrepresented in government – to consider running for office is a goal of The 2012 Project, a campaign of the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University. 2012 is a critical moment, the first election year after the decennial census. With redistricting creating more open seats than usual at every level, there will be numerous opportunities for newcomers to enter public office.
Nurses are not newcomers to the political stage. Right now, three serve in Congress, along with more than 50 in state legislatures. But there’s room for many more. Research shows that women are far less likely than men to be self?starters – to come up with the idea to run on their own. Women are more apt to run because someone has encouraged them. So we’re taking this opportunity to invite you to consider throwing your hat into the ring.
Want to learn more about this kind of nurse power? If you’re a political novice and don’t know where to begin, The 2012 Project can put you in touch with resources in your state to help you find training, mentoring, and inspiration. To learn more, visit our website at www.the2012project.us and click “Take Action” so we can follow up with you ?? or write us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Senior Communications Officer
Center for American Women and Politics