Today in the chart

Civic Engagement in Nursing is Not Partisan

Having more nurses engaged in civic activities is not only better for our patients and our communities — it is better for our profession.

Civic engagement is defined as “individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern.” Therefore, civic engagement is not a partisan issue; it is, by definition, a necessity. Having more nurses engaged in civic activities is not only better for our patients and our communities — it is better for our profession.

There are so many ways for nurses to participate in civic engagement activities. Here are the top 15 ways you can engage:

Register To Vote

If you are not already, register to vote. It is a quick and easy process you can do in-person, by mail, and online (depending on where you live). 


Second and most important, vote. This was highlighted in 2022 when voting was named a social determinant of health. Vote in the primaries, vote in the midterms, vote in the general elections. Vote for local, state, and federal candidates and ballot items. If you don’t know where your polling place is, you can find the information on many websites, including And depending on the state, you may be able to vote by mail!

Register Voters

Sign up to walk around and ask random strangers if they are registered to vote. If they are not, they are in luck because you will be there with a clipboard in hand, ready to have them fill out a form and submit it for them. 

Healthcare providers and others can also sign up for a Vot+ER badge to register voters at your institution or wherever you work and play. Vot+ER “develops nonpartisan civic engagement tools and programs for every corner of the healthcare system — from private practitioners to medical schools to hospitals.”

Write Letters

In Philly, we have a group called Do Good Sh*t. During election season, we get together as a group at a coworking space, Indy Hall, and write letters to encourage people to vote. We share why we are voting and why it is important for others to vote. 

I vote because I am a nurse, and our planet, our kids, and our communities’ health depend on it!

Write Postcards

Many organizations let you sign up to write postcards to voters in states with upcoming elections. They will send you the voters’ names and addresses along with some suggestions of what to write. All you have to do is buy the postcards and stamps and get creative with your messaging! One organization is Postcards to Swing States, but others depend on your political leanings.

Make Phone Calls

Many organizations host phone banking events for political candidates or upcoming ballot measures. They host training sessions beforehand and provide scripts that you use when making these calls. One organization that runs phone banks, for example, the Center for Common Ground, is “a nonpartisan voting rights organization led by people of color.”

Text Bank

Don’t worry, you don’t use your personal phone. Organizations provide a login to their online system, and you text individual voters from the list provided through their online system. There are scripted responses you pick from based on the text message response. This is a #getoutthevote opportunity you can do almost anytime, from any place. Mobilize US is one platform that runs text (and phone) banks. Several organizations use it for political engagement and other causes, including climate change, healthcare, gun violence, and LGBTQ+ rights.

Hang Signs

I am usually all in if there is an opportunity to “flyer” or hang signs encouraging folks to vote and providing voter information. You can generally do this through a candidate’s local office. Plus, it’s a great way to meet fellow citizens and learn about your community.

Knock on Doors

Like hanging signs, knocking on doors can be a great way to explore neighborhoods in your city, meet your neighbors, and get your steps in! It’s a win-win. Usually, you can sign up through the local office of a candidate you support.

Drive People to the Polls

This opportunity allows you to help people get to the polls who otherwise wouldn’t be able to — plus, you get to have quality time to talk with them and learn why they are voting. 

Volunteer for Campaigns

You have to put in the time to get the people you want elected. That requires many things I mentioned above (and below), but it also means supporting your candidate’s campaign through donations or time. Handing out candidate information at their polling place (if it is a local candidate) or working in their campaign office and anything in between is crucial to their chances of getting elected.

Work the Polls

I love working the polls, especially during general elections when polling lines are out the door, around the corner, and up the block—talking with voters, helping them determine their ward and division, giving them food and water, and entertaining them. Whatever it takes to help them stay in line and engaged! Plus, our voting system could not work without our poll workers! Shout out to the people who give us the “I Voted!” stickers.

Use Your Voice

I am a big proponent of nurses and all humans speaking up and speaking out when they see injustice. This goes the same for civic engagement; it is essential to remind people why they should vote, how to vote, who you are voting for, and why — discussing the issues you feel most passionate about.

Advocate on the Hill

Put yourself before those writing the bills affecting you and your communities. Most medical and nursing organizations organize trips to Capitol Hill to talk with legislators. For example, the American Nurses Association (ANA) does an ANA on the Hill day.

Use Your Platform

Using your voice can be done in person with family, friends, and colleagues, on social media, or whatever platform and medium suits you best. If you have a large social media following, discuss why you are voting and for whom. If you have a podcast, interview those running for political office or those volunteering to get others elected. If you are a writer, write op-eds and articles encouraging your colleagues and others to get involved. There is no shortage of ways to use your platform to promote civic engagement.

As we head into the 2024 election season, remember that civic engagement is critical to this country’s health and public health. Therefore,   You can check out to find upcoming local elections and start engaging!

Marion Leary is the Director of Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

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