Ep 226: The Need for More State Nurse Legislators


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

On This Episode:

We talk all the time about the lack of nurse representation in policy-making positions, but that doesn’t make the data any less surprising. Today we’ll have a great discussion with Darlene Curley, EdD, RN, FAAN, about a study she recently completed on state nurse legislators. She’ll share some of the details with us in this episode and we’ll also have a wide-ranging discussion on how CRNAs and other nurses can continue increasing their involvement.  

We’ve wanted to talk with Darlene for a while and we’re grateful to finally have that opportunity because few people have the insight into policy-making that she does. Darlene served two terms in the state legislature before running for Congress.

When she started in the legislature, she knew there were other nurses in legislatures around the country but she had no idea who they were, where they were, and what policies they were trying to advance. So in 2022, she completed an audit to find this information, and the results were pretty eye-opening, including the fact that there were 76 nurse legislatures serving in 36 states, which means 14 states didn’t have any nursing representatives. And this included states like Florida and California.

Join us as we learn all about the study, what she’s learned, and why we still have such a strong need for more state nurse legislators.

Here are some of the things you’ll learn on this show:

  • How she took an interest in community engagement and volunteering to a policy level.  [5:17]
  • Would the pandemic have looked different if more nurses would have been in more leadership positions? [12:21]
  • Background on the study and what she found. [18:08]
  • Why she thinks the trend is going  [24:14]
  • How can each of us support the nurses in these leadership positions. [26:09]
  • How does a policy-maker decide about an issue without a background on that issue? [30:36]
  • What are we losing by not having nurses representing us in all 50 states? [45:21]


Read the State Nurse Legislature study: https://www.nursingworld.org/~4a6c69/globalassets/practiceandpolicy/advocacy/state/9.12.22-status-report–nurse-state-legislators-2020-22.pdf 

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

You have such a strong feeling about service and public service to your community and to improving healthcare that it carries you through the political part. And the political component is really the engine that moves policy. For nurses or anyone running for office, the policy is very important but you must be interested in the political piece.

Darlene Curley, EdD, RN, FAAN





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J. Cross CRNA
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