From April 3rd – April 6th, nurses all over PA will meet legislators to demand safe staffing ratios!
Pennsylvania is in a patient care crisis. With dangerous short-staffing and nurse burnout higher than it’s ever been, we say ‘enough’. In November, 90% of all the state legislators who get a vote on safe staffing laws are up for re-election – i.e. they need us. In the first week of April, every legislator leaves Harrisburg and returns to their home district to listen to constituents. That means now is the perfect time for nurses – the biggest most trusted profession in the state – to meet them in person (with billboards behind us, and 10k petitions in our hand) to demand ratios! Part of what makes this powerful is for nurses to do this at the same time and in the same way all over the state in the same week, so this toolkit is a ‘how-to’ so we can coordinate.
Nobody is going to do this for us, so it’s up to YOU to make it happen! Here’s how:
1. Now – Early March: Take ‘point’ on, and schedule a meeting with your legislator.
The first step is to call your state legislator’s office and request a meeting. It takes 5 mins. Just say you’re a nurse, a constituent, part of a grassroots group called Nurses of PA, and ask to meet during Apr 3-6 in their home district to discuss an urgent patient safety problem. Pick a time and place that definitely works for you (then figure out who else can join). Don’t delay in making the call – just get something on the calendar early, then you have 4 weeks to figure the rest out. Don’t just call or email once and not follow up. Call early and often: get a meeting time and place on their schedule early so this doesn’t hold up the entire process. You can find who your state legislators (house + senate) are here. Let’s all use this spreadsheet to record who is requesting which meeting with who.
2. March: Talk to other nurses about (a) joining the meeting and (b) signing the petition.
One nurse talking to their state legislator makes a difference. 5 nurses talking to their state legislator together, after speaking to 100s of others who signed the petition, is far more powerful. In March (before the meeting), make a list of 10 nurses you know who are fed up with short-staffing, and talk to them and ask them to join you and meet your legislator! Once you have a group of 3-6 nurses, aim to collect 100 petition signatures for safe ratios. Get the petition online here (nursesofpa.org/petition), or get a printable copy here.
3. April 3rd – 6th: Meet early to prepare, meet your legislator, then celebrate and share the results!
Once you have confirmed the time and place with your group of 3-5 nurses, plan to meet 30-45 mins beforehand to prepare. This will give you a chance to talk through how you want to run the meeting together, and ensure that folks aren’t late or get lost. Here’s a double-sided ‘leave behind’ to give to the legislator, with what we ask for and why.
You don’t need to be a legislative expert (that’s what the ‘leave behind’ is for). What you are an expert in (and they know nothing about) is what short-staffing at the bedside is really like, and what it actually means for the health and safety of your patients – the people they represent. Share from your experience, ask “will you co-sponsor the safe staffing bills on this sheet (yes or no)”, then get a photo and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.