Healing Politics: Nonpartisan Organization Making Policy Change

By Brenna Kehew Sculley

by Celia Cooksey

According to the most recent census data, women hold 76% of all healthcare jobs. In the midst of a healthcare crisis, who hasn’t relied on incredible nurses to help them get through some of the most challenging times in their life? It isn’t surprising then, that when a group of nurses got together and started looking into public policy, they determined… Who better to step in and make change than nurses? Who among us could be more equipped at making critical decisions, synthesizing data, multitasking, and having a deep understanding of the need for compassion than nurses?

When Kimberly Gordon and Lisa Summers met at Yale School of Nursing in 2018, they found a passion for not only nursing, but also for policy.

In 2021, they established Healing Politics as a nonprofit organization that partners with experts in electoral politics, including nurse legislators serving at the local, state, and federal levels, and campaign operatives who have practical experience in fields ranging from fundraising to digital strategy. Their mission is focused on highlighting the need for more nurses and midwives in elected office, inspiring them to run, and providing nonpartisan training.

North Carolina state Sen. Gale Adcock, who has a nursing diploma from Virginia Baptist Hospital, a bachelor’s degree in nursing from East Carolina University, and a Master of Science in Nursing from UNC Chapel Hill, has been a nurse practitioner since 1987 and was Chief Health Officer at SAS Institute for more than 26 years before retiring in October 2020. She has been involved with Healing Politics and shared why she believes that nurses are adept at holding political office.

“Nurses are particularly good at synthesizing data. New medications and treatments are changing all the time, so you have to keep pace with innovation, and you have to keep pace with research that changes the way you practice. Nurses are really good at that,” she said. “And, of course in policymaking, you have a huge amount of data thrown at you, and you have to sift through what is important and how to make evidence-based decisions.”

This point of view was shared by Minnesota state Sen. Liz Bolden on a recent Elected Women Across America podcast as she told her story of utilizing her expertise to help identify issues that her colleagues might not see. Elected officials with real healthcare experience are valued by their colleagues from both sides of the aisle because they know they can get first-hand experiential stories to help make decisions.

While Healing Politics isn’t specifically for women, it is for nurses of any gender, and as 86% of all nurses are women, encouraging more women to run for office is just a natural byproduct of this initiative. Women are a surging force in policymaking, and they’re only gaining by making more strides through organizations like this that empower those in women-led fields to run for office.

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