Nothing changes without action. We hold in each of us the power to chart a new course for our lives – to take things in a different direction. The minute we as individuals make the conscious decision to follow through with our thoughts and turn them into action we begin to take charge of our own future. 

I know you might be thinking this sentiment is better suited to an inspirational self-help book rather than a Union President’s message, but in reality, nothing could be more appropriate for our registered nursing profession and for health care in general than this philosophy.

There has never been a moment in time more important than now for registered nurses to use their voice to speak up and speak out and support each other in their workplaces.

Think about what’s happening around you. Many of the pressures you and your teams are feeling every day are ramping up. I am constantly hearing from members about how things continue to get more stressful as you are required to care for more and sicker patients as each year goes by. It doesn’t help that chronic understaffing continues to plague the system, while registered nurse replacement, which is steadily changing the skill mix of care teams, remains an ongoing and escalating issue.

High-pressure environments like these have other spinoff effects too. Violence against nurses and frontline health workers is also on the rise and is of great concern to SUN members. It’s something I constantly hear about and is without question a symptom of larger staffing and resource issues.

A new culture is also emerging where changes are increasingly being implemented without consultation with our Union or registered nurses. Many of these changes are not in line with our collective agreement or our registered nursing legislation, standards and competencies and code of ethics, and they are often being applied inconsistently across the province. 

As health care restructuring forges ahead in Saskatchewan, there’s no question we are going to continue to see changes that impact patient care, your professional practice and the system as a whole every day. It’s now up to us as registered nurses to speak up and speak out or we will be left behind.

The fact is, we are everywhere in the system. Nobody knows it more intimately than us. So, if you suspect something is wrong; it probably is.

We all have a responsibility to protect our patients and our registered nursing profession. No one else is going to do it for us. If we do not act when we know action is needed, no matter how small the problem may seem, we are surrendering our ability to define our own practice and future workplace environments.

This is my call to action for all SUN members: Do not be silent. Become informed. Use the resources and tools made available to you through your Union. Read member communications, stay up to date with our new “Did You Know?” series, check the website regularly and take advantage of educational offerings. Find your way to engage and become an active participant in shaping your own future.

Remember, the things we tolerate are the things we show others we are willing to accept.

Tracy Zambory, RN