Ep 105: Nursing, Policy and Politics with Minnesota State Senator Erin Murphy, RN

As we’ve learned in 2020, having more nurses in leadership and decision-making positions would benefit the entire country greatly. One nurse that’s embracing their power to bring change is Erin Murphy, RN. After years in the nursing profession, she transitioned into politics 15 years ago and served as a state representative for more than a decade, became the first nurse to run for governor, and recently became a Minnesota State Senator in 2020. Listen as she shares her experience, the role of nurses in politics, and her ideas for getting more people involved.

Click the timestamps below to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

On This Episode:

This year has provided us all with challenges we never anticipated but nurses across the country have been greatly impacted by the pandemic.

One thing that we’ve learned over the past nine months is that nurses need to be involved more in decisions being made on local and national levels. This industry has been under-represented throughout its history but its never been more evident than it has in 2020.

That’s why we do our best to spotlight the people who have taken on that challenge to give nurses a voice in policy and politics. Our guest today has been doing it for 15 years and was just recently elected to the Minnesota State Senate. We’re so excited to spend time with Erin Murphy to talk about this topic with someone who has been on both sides.

When her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004 and insurance denied parts of the coverage she needed, her family pushed her to run for office to help change things. So she ran for the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2005 for the very first time. She learned a lot of lessons through that process. Going door-to-door to meet people and understand the challenges helped lead her to victory.

In 2007, she was sworn in and eventually served in the House for 12 years. She also ran for governor of Minnesota in 2017 and nearly made it through to the final stage of the race. That brings us to the present day, where Murphy just won a seat in the Minnesota State Senate.

What Murphy does a great job of conveying through this episode is why nurses are a great fit in the political arena. The skills we use on the job and the connection we make with people are critical in politics. And think about the challenges nurses face and can’t walk away from. That toughness is needed to govern and it’s why we advocate so much for it on this show.

She has a great story and is an inspiration for anyone in the industry that aspires to serve at some point in their career. We hope this episode will provide more insight into the process and why nurses can make an even bigger difference in the country.

So as you get started on the episode, keep an ear out for these topics:

  • How she got started in this arena at a young age
  • Her mother’s lung cancer diagnosis pushed her into politics
  • The path she’s taken in politics and what she’s learned
  • The effectiveness of nurses going door-to-door
  • Stories from the campaign trail
  • Balancing nursing and politics
  • How can we get more nurses involved?
  • Facing the pandemic with a nurse in charge
  • The need for more nurses in public office

Check it out the interview at the top of the page and use the timestamps to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

[1:49] – Welcome in, Erin

[2:52] – Background on Erin

[5:00] – Her experience in politics

[9:42] – Door knocking on the campaign trail

[13:21] – Balancing work and politics

[17:42] – Her experience running for governor

[21:41] – How can nurses get past the negatives and want to run for office?

[25:51] – What would the pandemic looked like if a nurse was in charge?

[28:10] – We need more nurses in public office

[32:33] – Final message to nurses

[34:00] – Sharon’s biggest takeaway from this conversation


“It left me with a deeper belief in what we can accomplish together if we run from a hopeful platform with purpose, and we don’t shy away from the hard issues we face but we actually talk about them with candor and honesty.”

Minnesota State Senator Erin Murphy

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