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Ready to Be Heard

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Our smartphones have this funny little emoticon that shrugs its shoulders: "Who knows?" or an apathetic "What are you gonna do?" An image perfect for the times, right?

Forget it. Instead, we need an emoticon that throws its shoulders back, thrusts its chest and chin forward, and declares, "We can get through this."

These are uncertain times in America and in the health care industry for sure. The Affordable Care Act, a program that has extended medical coverage to so many needy Americans, could disappear or change dramatically. And international connections so carefully woven through years of trust building and hard, hard work are at risk because of xenophobia. Extraordinary opportunities will be missed if the many great health care minds from across the world are prevented from meeting in person and innovating freely. And federal funding, so crucial to lifesaving advances, is always a worry.

We don't do politics around here. We do healing. We do nurturing. And importantly, we do mentoring to nursing caregivers and leaders of tomorrow. They will face challenging times in their careers. They are looking at us to lead today, to be part of the solution. And so, the Deans' Nursing Policy Coalition--made up of the top private research nursing schools--has let it be known in a letter to our congressional leaders from both parties that it is ready to help and to be heard on whatever system is chosen to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other essential health coverage programs.

"We believe it is important that nursing be part of the national conversation on the repeal and replacement of the ACA and any changes to Medicaid, Medicare or the insurance coverage of our citizens as nurses will provide care to those millions of patients who will be the recipients of care resulting from any changes to the coverage of their health care. As the most trusted profession, nurses can serve as expert communicators and quickly gauge the impact of health policy change on the lives of patients and their families. Nurses can provide a view "from the trenches" on the clinical and economic impact of health care policy proposals and we stand ready to share that experience with you."

Read the full text of our letter here.

It's important to remember that the Affordable Care Act itself forced nurses to be flexible. Today, the nurse practitioner stands as the No. 2-ranked job in America, according to U.S. News & World Report, and nursing remains the most trusted profession for 15 years running. The ACA meant that many people with no insurance or in rural areas with little access to care entered the medical system. This was great, of course, but along with a worrisome physician shortage, it meant being nimble on nursing's part. It meant building and nurturing a wave of nurse practitioners who could fill the gap, practicing to the fullest extent of their licenses. Obviously, it worked.

And we're ready to do what it takes--again, always--to meet America's health care needs.