In June of 2008, Senator Barack Obama included the American Nurses Association as one of the major stops on his campaign trail. At the time, not the decided candidate for Democratic President nominee, Obama spoke with Rebecca Patton, the president of the American Nurses Association.
During this speech to the ANA, Obama addressed his health care experience, thanking the Illinois branch of the American Nurses Association for their work together during his time as a senator. As Chair of the health care committee, one of Obama's biggest roles was working to create an affordable health care plan for his constituents, a goal he still has today and has been working towards with his health care reforms.
During his time as the Chair of the health care committee, Obama shadowed a nurse during her daily rounds and got a personal look at America's health care. With 47 million Americans lacking health care insurance, as a result of lobbyists and drug companies pushing their own agendas over the needs of United States citizens.
The Senator criticized current health care plans and proposed alterations, stating that McCain's plan was basically the same as the plan in effective during the Bush administration. These health care plans do little to help the average American, rewarding wealth and affluence with health, while those without the means to buy a health care plan go without care.
Obama then described then-Senator Clinton and his plan - the Democratic view of health care. Both politicians hoped to create a plan that extended service to all that need it, not just to those that can afford it. The Senator referred to his proposal as a "health care plan," not a "disease care plan." One of the main aspects of this plan, that would allow Obama to increase insurance coverage would be assisting employers responsible for providing insurance by reducing premiums. This would help relieve the strain on nursing by putting a plan into effect that doesn’t increase workload untowardly.
Further than preventative health care services, Obama stated plans to pay nurses accordingly. By paying nursing professors better, the Senator believes that more nurses will pursue nursing careers and participate in specialized online nursing programs. In addition, Obama hopes to offset the costs of tuition and education by $4,000, preventing nurses in need from going into debt, and by providing full ride scholarships to nurses working in underserved hospitals.
Obama addressed the nursing shortage, praising the hard-working nurses who do more than their fair share in order to support their patients. However, he derided the industry for creating an inefficient work environment, incapable of providing adequate care to patients. In order to fix the problem, Obama hopes to monitor nurse-patient ratios by implementing health information technology that not only protects and provides for patients, but that streamlines the administrative process. He also proposed instituting a limit on overtime.
These changes in the nursing profession would make great strides towards increased retention and recruitment to the health care industry by improving work environments, increasing the job satisfaction of nurses already working, and drawing new nurses into the field.
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