On Thursday, May 12th, thousands of nurses from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., for the National Nurses March.

Nurses gather for the National Nurses March in DCOrganized by the National Nurses March (NNM) organization, the event included a march up Pennsylvania Avenue followed by a rally with speeches and performances at Audi Field. According to an NNM press release, the peaceful demonstration was held to achieve four main objectives: “fair realistic wages, including no caps for nurses; safe nurse to patient ratios; no violence against healthcare workers; and a change in the culture of biases and discrimination in the nursing profession.”

The march also supported the passage of the Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety & Quality Care Act and the Workplace Violence Prevention bill for Health Care and Social Service Workers – both currently introduced to Congress.

Veronica Mitchell, the founder of the National Nurses March, said, “The mission of the National Nurses March is to enable nurses to provide quality care without worrying about being overworked, underpaid, or hurt by violence on the job.”

These objectives hit home for the nurses in attendance at the March. Cindy Reuss, a nurse at the march, told an ABC News reporter that she had recently left her nursing job after 17 years due to unsafe staffing ratios, “None of us want to leave bedside nursing. But we cannot do it. With eight to ten patients, it’s not safe. We just want the opportunity to be good nurses.”

A Maxim Nurses’ Story

Heather Cameron, an LPN with Maxim Healthcare Services, said she decided to attend the march to make a difference and be a voice of change in the nursing profession. While recounting experiences she’d had before joining Maxim, she detailed a shift where she was expected to pass medications and provide treatments to over 60 patients, “That should not be allowed to happen to any nurse. We worked hard to get a license. We chose this field because we love taking care of others, but stuff like this makes us want to leave the bedside.” Since joining Maxim, Heather has been able to provide care to one patient at a time.

Country singer Jake Dodds’ Audi Field performance of “She Goes to Work,” a tribute to women on the frontlines of the world, was particularly impactful for her.

When asked about her main takeaway, Heather commented, “that so many nurses from all over America came together for the same goals and we stood together. That day I saw nursing as a large family willing to stand up for all nurses.”

*Photos courtesy of Heather Cameron and used with permission*