There are currently three nurses in Congress, all residing in the House of Representatives, but from different states, backgrounds and areas of practice. Eddie Bernice Johnson (30th Congressional District of Texas), worked as a psychiatric nurse at the Dallas VA Medical Center. Lauren Underwood (14th Congressional District, Illinois) earned a master’s degree in nursing and public health before working as a senior advisor to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Cori Bush (Missouri’s First Congressional District) earned a degree in nursing and worked as a triage nurse before entering politics. The number of nurses in Congress will drop to two in November 2022, when Johnson retires.
Nurses are the ones who listen to issues that are important to patients and to the goals of their care plans. Several states (including Ohio) do not authorize full practice authority for advanced practice registered nurses (APRN). This means that even when a nurse practitioner (NP) has been trained and licensed to practice and care for patients independently, the NP cannot practice unless supervised by a physician. Women’s health is threatened; it is incredibly difficult to receive a tubal ligationbut male patients can receive a vasectomy with relative ease. Gay and bisexual men can’t donate blood due to outdated and discriminatory policies since the 1980s and the AIDS crisis, before HIV testing was effective and widely available. Healthcare costs and medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy.
The nurses are trustworthy and experts in our field. It is time we used our voices not only at the bedside, but also in the Legislative Assembly.