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Oregon Nurse Online Article [Advocate Spotlight: Alan Helyer, RN] [02/25/13]

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Advocate Spotlight: Alan Helyer, RN, MPH, MBA

Alan Helyer began his nursing career more than 30 years ago as a medical-surgical nurse in a major US Air Force Medical Center. He later served as an Air Force Public Health Officer, a consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General, an occupational health nurse in a Fortune 500 company, and as a teacher. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Oregon State Association of Occupational Health Nurses and on ONA’s Cabinet on Health Policy.

In addition to helping shape ONA’s legislative agenda as a Cabinet on Health Policy member, Alan has supported ONA-backed legislation at both the state and local level.

Here’s what Alan had to say about his work as a nurse advocate:

1. How did you decide to be a nurse advocate?

“I’ve always been very interested in making changes to the health care system. When I was in the military I worked a lot on health care reform issues and did several studies researching how effective new health care programs could be, what resources they would need, what outcomes could be improved and what changes might look like in practice. I thought I would like to spend the end of my nursing career working towards health care reform and achieving a positive result. Being active in ONA is one of the best ways for me to do that because you can’t do it alone. ONA is a recognized professional organization and it does a tremendous job advocating on health care issues.”

2. What advice would you offer to other nurses?

“I think advocacy is what makes nursing a valuable career. It lets you know you’re giving the most value to your patients and that you’ve improved their life experience. Interaction with and for our patients is what really adds value to our work and makes nursing a unique position. Nurses are the largest occupation in health care and we’re involved in every layer of it. We ought to be the leaders in it.”

3. What have you learned from your advocacy?

“I’ve learned there are some battles you can win and some you can’t. When we don’t succeed on an issue the first time, we start looking for the next crack in the wall.”

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