What They’re Watching: Cindy Zolnierek, Ph.D., Texas Nurses Association

In the first edition of our “What They’re Watching” video series from last week’s 2022 Texas State of Reform Health Policy Conference, hear from Texas Nurses Association CEO Cindy Zolnierek, Ph.D., about her main policy priorities and what can be done to support nurses as they continue to be among the hardest-hit professionals during the pandemic.

Saying 80-90% of Texas nurses have concerns about short staffing levels, Zolnierek believes augmenting the workforce by promoting policies and work environments that will bring new nurses into the workforce is paramount. TNA is working with legislators and the governor’s office on the best ways to allocate available funding to bolster the struggling workforce.

She also said nurses bear the brunt of workplace violence in health care settings. She says hospitals should be required to establish workplace violence prevention plans to address this—a policy TNA supported last session but that failed to pass its second chamber. Zolnierek plans to continue promoting the legislation next session.

An additional priority area, she said, is promoting nurse wellbeing.

“Nurses’ work environments need to support nurses being able to take care of themselves. So they need breaks, they need to have days off, they need to have reasonable workloads, they need to be protected from workplace violence. That will help prevent the mental health challenges that many nurses are experiencing.”