Standing Up For Our Profession, Climate and Future - Kathy Birdsall, BSN, RN

Posted almost 3 years ago

As one of the founders of the Registered Nurses Association in Michigan (RN-AIM), which became ANA-MI, I have a message for all RNs: do anything and everything to positively promote the visibility of our profession before we are completely written off by those in power.
As a member of ANA-MI, I have been meeting with other local RN members to work on a plan to do just that. One of the ways that I, personally, have adopted is in writing Letters to the Editor (LTE) of two of our local newspapers. More on that later.
In November, I accompanied a more-seasoned climate crisis volunteer lobbyist to the November Lobby Day in Washington, DC.In my four meetings with US Congresspersons or their legislative staff, I consistently introduced myself as “a concerned Registered Nurse”. If I had the opportunity to promote the climate science behind carbon pollution, I also stated that RNs “all have a strong science background and are historically the caretakers of their communities”. There was no time during these brief Congressional visits to discuss the public health impact, both physically and emotionally, of extreme weather events and pollution on public health. At the local and state levels of ANA-MI, we have been fortunate to have Dr. Lisa DelBuono, MD, a local pathologist and a leader in Citizens Climate Lobby, speak to attendees on the aforementioned topic. 
      I had never lobbied at the federal level, but that didn’t stop me. RNs know so much more than the public, or even our own peers would guess. I encourage you to leave your comfort zone, get a mentor, and make these visits, and/or volunteer for Boards of Directors, and write meaningful LTEs and Op Eds. Don’t allow more self-promoting individuals from other professionals to dominate the spotlight! Get out there and promote the profession you worked so hard to join.
      As promised, the following is my most recent LTE, following my lobbying trip. Allow me to encourage all readers to contact their federal legislators on the topic of the extreme urgency to introduce climate change/carbon fee legislation. Sadly, many Members of Congress are very distracted currently in the divisive DC atmosphere.
Kathy's Letter to the Editor:
Thanks to the Northern Express for Stephen Tuttle’s November 18th column on the climate crisis. His column hit the mark with me as I’ve recently returned from my first visit to the US House and Senate, lobbying for carbon fee and dividend legislation with 800 other American members of Citizens Climate Lobby.
My takeaway from this experience was a mixed bag. Clearly, most legislators’ offices were distracted and further polarized by the current impeachment inquiry in the House, and continue to drag their collective feet in moving forward with our preferred bill, The Innovative Energy and Carbon Dividend Act if 2019, HR 763.
Our Michigan members cited a recent Columbia University economic study of HR 763 to several House offices. This study gives high marks to this bill but we also embrace two or three of the other carbon fee bills currently waiting to be introduced to the House and Senate. 
Optimistic feelings were held by some in our Michigan delegation because, in one year, great progress has been made in the understanding of the urgency of carbon fee legislation and the commitment of many more Members of Congress to act soon. 
We encourage all readers to call their US legislators to co-sponsor HR 763. My representative, Jack Bergman needs more pressure to co-sponsor this or another bill to combat the climate crisis before it’s too late for our children and grandchildren.