By June 2021 there were already 561 abortion restrictions filed, of which 165 were abortion bans. These restrictions spanned over 47 states (Guttmacher). A few short months later, SB-8 went into effect in Texas. This onslaught against reproductive access and freedom in combination with the COVID-19 pandemic’s exacerbation of nursing exploitation has created a unique set of circumstances for nurses who are motivated to turn their politics into action. NSRH’s Training in Abortion Care Residency (TAC) is a concrete opportunity for registered nurses to re-imagine their nursing career, and gain experience in a sector that provides an alignment of our values with our work.
The othering of abortion care as separate from reproductive healthcare and healthcare more generally has lasting and insidious ways of impacting both individuals and the systems that we trust with care provision. We as nurses are not taught about the medical process of abortion care and may only rely on high-level (potential misinformation). We are doing active harm to our patients when we pass on that misinformation (thinking about referring to CPC’s here). And harm was done to us in not receiving comprehensive, medically accurate sexual and reproductive health education in our nursing programs.
NSRH knows that this othering of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health is ubiquitous both in nursing school and throughout the profession. It is our commitment to interrupt, fill the gaps and advocate for comprehensive SRH in all sectors of nursing. NSRH is working to address the lack of education directly at the source through our Student Organizing, and building the next generation of nurse leaders through the Karen Edlund Future Nurse Leader Fellowship.
However, we know that this othering and lack of education surrounding SRH, especially abortion care, continues within the professional nursing sector. Our inaugural TAC Residency is another part of NSRH’s commitment to providing professional development opportunities for nurses in SRH. This residency program provides hands-on clinical abortion care training to registered nurses as well has monthly individual and group learning around the broader intricacies of abortion care. Similar to how a multi-pronged approach is needed to achieving health in our patients, a multi-pronged approach to normalizing sexual and reproductive health, specifically abortion care is needed in nursing. The TAC residency is a critical piece of that puzzle. NSRH recently completed first of its kind research documenting the severe lack of training opportunities for nurses in abortion care. Our research found that there are limited training opportunities for advanced practice clinicians (APC’s), but that the TAC Residency is the only clinical abortion training program for registered nurses in the US. NSRH stands in our commitment to developing necessary, creative, evidence-based programs and education that address and normalize abortion care. Applications to the TAC Residency are now open for RN’s in Tennessee and Kentucky and the program will launch in March 2022!