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Oregon Nurse Online Article [Guest Column] 08/01/13]

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Guest Column: NFN Labor Academy

The National Federation of Nurses (NFN) welcomed leaders and nurses from its member states to its fourth annual Labor Academy in May. To commemorate the recent affiliation with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Labor Academy theme for this year was Building a Stronger Future Together: Unleashing our Potential.

Many dynamic speakers and instructors from AFT and other state unions presented at the academy. The workshops focused on important issues for nurses like the Affordable Care Act, violence against nurses, trends in malpractice, and bargaining smarter and stronger. ONA sent nine nurses from various facilities around the state.

Cabinet on Economic & General Welfare member, Carolyn Starnes, RN, was one of the nurses representing Oregon at the academy and wanted to share her experiences with other ONA members.

Carolyn Starnes Guest Column

As a first time attendee to the National Federation of Nurses’ Labor Academy, held in Arlington, Virginia, I was eager to explore the potential future of nursing and the plan for the restructuring of our health care system. The first evening, I attended a dynamic movie named “Escape Fire.” This powerful film was an eye-opening experience which assisted in my overall understanding regarding the necessary adjustments needed in health care.

Throughout the next three days, I attended several classes and received 12.3 CEU’s.

These classes covered topics which I found interesting and beneficial. The first class was on Lateral Violence, where I learned how to counter and reflect this negative dilemma. My next class of interest was on Staffing in the Real World. The focus was on staffing challenges and how to improve this ongoing issue. I left the class with an appreciation that Oregon is continuing to improve the staffing law in aid to saving lives. My final class was on Dangerous Pitfalls in Bargaining. During this time, I was able to glean facts that would strengthen and assist in the negotiation process and remaining focused on the common goal. Overall, I believe these classes expanded my role in nursing and as the ONA Bargaining Unit Chair at Mercy Medical Center.

While attending this conference, I was pleased to be a part of lobbying for our nursing role in health care reform. I was part of a team that discussed issues with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden’s representative and had a face to face meeting with U.S. Representative Peter Defazio. I was impressed by the insight that both of our elected representatives had, with a good understanding of the challenges nurses are facing in the future.

The conference ended on a high note with the dynamic speaker Stewart Acuff portraying the value of the new partnership between NFN and AFT and further advocation of nurses in the workplace. In addition, Oregon’s very own ONA President, Steve Rooney, was elected to be the incoming president of the NFN.

This conference was an exhilarating experience and I would highly recommend for others to attend.

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