Photo of a nurse holding a patient's chart on a clipboard with a patient in bed in the background

Nurses Decode the Debates: Reflections on the 2020 presidential debates

Editor’s Note: With the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Clinic set to hold the first presidential debate next week (Tuesday, Sept. 29), The Daily will feature a number of debate-related articles in the days leading up to the event.

Considered one of the most consequential presidential elections our nation has ever faced, this year’s presidential debates will help inform the voter on which candidate best represents their vision of the future.

In a year that has seen health care take center stage, the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University is hosting a series of nurse-led panel discussions following each debate to decode and demystify what was said, the plans revealed and how ideas shared could impact the future of health care.

“This is part of our responsibility as nurses as outlined in the Nurses Code of Ethics. As nurses and health professionals, it is our duty to promote health diplomacy and reduce health disparities,” said Rebecca M. Patton, the Lucy Jo Atkinson Professor of Perioperative Nursing. “Health care is a primary topic for all candidates, and the ideas and plans set forth in these debates will shape our country’s health care infrastructure in our immediate future.”

The school’s Marian K. Shaughnessy Nurse Leadership Academy will host the debate reflection panels. A central mission of the academy is advancing and advocating for nurse leadership within health care. The panels, occurring the day after each debate at 5 p.m. Eastern Time, will include retired nurses, current Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing students and practicing alumni. All are encouraged to attend, especially practicing nurses and nursing students.

Nursing school Dean Carol Musil will moderate the first Nurses Decode the Debates panel Wednesday, Sept. 30. Questions can be submitted before the panels at Additional viewer questions during the panels will be monitored in the Zoom chat feature.

Nurses are a huge voting bloc, making up more than 35 percent of the entire U.S. health care workforce. In its “Occupational Outlook Handbook,” the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the employment of registered nurses will grow 7% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations across the board. Spurring this growth in an increased emphasis on preventative care, ballooning rates of chronic conditions and spiking demands from the baby boom generation.

“Nurses are leaders and innovators in the challenges facing health care delivery,” said Joyce Fitzpatrick, the director of the academy and the Elizabeth Brooks Ford Professor of Nursing. “The panels will address topics and questions directly facing nurses and advocate for proactive leadership from our fellow nurses.”

Registration is required for the Nurses Decode the Debates events. A Zoom account is required to attend.

Nurses Decode the Debates events will be held: