February 14, 2022

Meet The Nurse Behind IMPACT, Viral Safe-Staffing Initiative

Meet The Nurse Behind IMPACT, Viral Safe-Staffing Initiative

When Registered Nurse Abby Donley suffered an injury last year that pulled her away from the bedside, she worked as an RN union organizer. As an RN organizer, she is an appointed union representative who represents nurses' best interests when negotiating with their management. She acts as a liaison between the nurses and their organization to protect bedside nurses from retaliation and unfair working conditions. 

Paired with her passion for healthcare policy and her drive to advocate for healthcare workers and patients alike, Abby, two other healthcare workers, and one politician created a movement, IMPACT (Interdisciplinary Medical & Patient Alliance for Care Transformation), that in just a few months, would take social media by storm. Partnering with MEGA influencer Nurse Blake, IMPACT's safe-staffing petition has nurses fired up and ready to make change!

We caught up with Abby to chat about what's next for IMPACT. 


Image: @thenocturnalnurse

PW: When did you become a registered nurse? 

AD: I was a CNA in college, and I became an LPN in 2008. I've been a registered nurse since 2018.

PW: Why did you become a nurse? 

AD: My grandmother raised me as a young child. She was a CNA and home attendant. We didn't have much money, so she would take me to work with her. I grew up in assisted living centers and nursing homes.

PW: Tell us about your nursing journey. What was your specialty, etc.? 

AD: I've worked in home care, ambulatory, long-term care, MedSurg, step down, and the ICU. Last year, I had to leave the bedside due to an injury, so I started working as an RN organizer.  

PW: Tell us about IMPACT and why you started it? 

AD: IMPACT in Healthcare is a nonprofit organization advocating for ALL healthcare workers and patients. We realize that together, we are strong. 

We created Impact because there is currently a lack of interdisciplinary advocacy outlets for healthcare workers. Many traditional organizations and associations representing healthcare workers do not support people at the bedside. For years, we've heard of complaints regarding the American Nurses Association (ANA), for example. There's a lack of direct communication from bedside workers to those making decisions.


We have streamlined that process. There is the member, the department leader, and then the Board of Directors. IMPACT in Healthcare is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed by healthcare workers and patients with a vision to humanize healthcare by putting worker and patient wellbeing over profits. 

  • Our Mission: To advocate for patients' ability to access affordable, equitable care through systemic education and direct action against disparities and barriers to care;  
  • Additionally, to advocate for safe staffing, safe workplaces, and healthcare workers' rights, wellbeing, and ability to provide high-quality care. 
  • We strive to address systemic, underlying drivers of inequity and inefficiency and empower healthcare workers to advocate for themselves and their patients directly.

Our goals are to provide healthcare workers with tools to shape their work environment and ensure workers are empowered to advocate for safe care. IMPACT's priorities include safe staffing, fair pay, decreasing administrative burdens on HCWs, and mental healthcare. 

PW: Why did you choose to make IMPACT an interdisciplinary organization? 

AD: Interestingly, this model hasn't been tried before. Together we are stronger, and many in numbers and many disciplines complain about relatively the same issues. Many healthcare workers, regardless of title, feel pressure to provide care in an environment that is not sustainable for patients or healthcare workers. Staffing, mental health, workplace violence are all examples of issues that everyone in healthcare is affected by. We have to come together and support each other, and that is the only chance we have to make real policy change. 

According to the American Community Survey, as of 2019, there are  22 million healthcare workers in the United States. These workers are fragmented into countless small, specialty-based associations & organizations that advocate for individual groups but fail to recognize our common needs. There is a scarcity of interdisciplinary associations serving ALL healthcare workers and patients alike, and professional organizations have several layers of bureaucracy between leaders and bedside workers. Healthcare workers have been increasingly interested in advocacy, policy change, and organizing through the pandemic.

IMPACT in Healthcare strives to fill this gap by serving as an interdisciplinary organization that serves ALL healthcare workers and patients by listening to their direct needs. The on-the-ground experiences impact our education, advocacy, and actions of the workers and patients that fill our ranks.

PW: Tell us about your staffing initiative and the petition?

AD: We started our Safe Staffing Campaign in December and ran it until January. So far, we’ve:

  • Received 500,000+ petition signatures
  • Sent 23,000+ emails to the Joint Commission
  • Provided month-long education campaigns about unsafe staffing
  • Gained 500 new direct action members

PW: What has been the response of the petition? 

AD: The response to our petition frankly, has been overwhelming. We anticipated a success, but are thrilled of it’s far reach and hope it solidifies us as a change maker in this space.

PW: How did the partnership with Nurse Blake come about?

AD: Our campaigns will always end with an action item. We were working on our action item for our safe staffing campaign when Nurse Blake approached us. He wanted to do a petition regarding staffing, which was perfect timing. IMPACT has academic credentials, our education and research department does very thorough work.

Nurse Blake has an amazing platform and reach. He also makes information accessible and engaging. Combining Policy/Research with engaging content allows us to make advocacy accessible. Accessible advocacy is vital for healthcare workers. As they are already burdened, burned out, and experiencing moral injury. We want to empower the healthcare worker, not burden them.

*I reached out to Nurse Blake and this is what he had to say about the petition.*

PW: What does this safe-staffing petition mean to you?

Nurse Blake: Safe staffing is important to me because one day textbooks will cover how dangerous unsafe staffing was to patient's lives and to the mental and physical well-being of staff. It's important to be a part of this much needed change. 

PW: Why was it important for you to put your brand behind the petition?

Nurse Blake: As a nursing student back in 2012-2014, I knew healthcare needed a shake up. I started this petition because I believe we have the power to shake things up in healthcare right now! With over 500k signatures on the safe-staffing petition, I think the time is right and our momentum is just getting stronger!

PW: There are lots of organizations claiming to support healthcare workers. Because you have such a large platform, when you speak, healthcare workers - specifically nurses- listen.  Why did you choose to work with IMPACT? 

Nurse Blake: Good question! It's important to me that when I partner with an organization or company  on a project, that I review and support their mission as well as their past, present, and future work. While IMPACT is a new organization, I believe in their mission and was impressed with their passion to advocate for all healthcare workers. 

PW: What's next for the petition?


  1. We are working with change.org to create an ad featuring healthcare workers and staffing
  2. We are working on delivering the petition to Joint Commission
  3. We will also have some other media surrounding the petition.

 PW: What's next for IMPACT?

AD: IMPACT holds monthly meetings in each department. The designated department leaders then meet with the founders. The concerns and solutions affecting bedside staff are communicated to the founders for planning of campaigns. We have intentionally created a direct line of communication from the bedside staff to the decision-makers. Our plans include:

  • Expanding our critical educational resources
  • Accelerating our direct advocacy work by forming campaigns to fill the needs of ALL healthcare workers and patients by listening to their direct concerns.
  • Boosting our advocating efforts for patients: to access affordable, equitable care, including systemic education and direct action against disparities and barriers to care
  • Amplifying for Healthcare workers: safe staffing, safe workplaces, and healthcare workers' rights, wellbeing, and ability to provide high quality care.
  • Hiring educators to address our large, underlying drivers of inequity and inefficiency, and to empower healthcare workers and patients to directly advocate for themselves.
  • Uniting patients and healthcare workers of all levels, specialties, departments, ages, genders, nationalities, passions, politics, and creeds.
  • Connecting workers with diverse backgrounds to create an environment where we are all safe, valued, and respected to solve worker and patient barriers to care collaboratively.
  • Bringing healthcare workers together to transform healthcare into a system that prioritizes patients and workers
  • Cataloging worker and patient experiences with the healthcare system and working to alleviate their burdens with kindness, sensitivity, and respect
  • Continuing creating partnerships and collaborations with other advocacy nonprofit organizations
  • Applying for 501(c)(4) tax status by January 2023
  • Developing and implementing a political strategy team
  • Gaining and maintaining positive ties with legislative agencies
  • Solidifying a communication team that tracks bills, laws, and other rules to ensure that IMPACT in Healthcare is knowledgeable about current legislation

Finally, we plan to create a communication team to lobby for favorable operating conditions from the government.


PW: How do people get involved with IMPACT?


Step 1: 

Go to: https://www.impactinhealthcare.org/get-involved/join-a-department and fill  out our form

Step 2: 

Enter your “Profession” and add any grassroots groups you’d like to join under “areas of interest” 

Step 3:

Watch your email for an invite from “Slack.” This may take up to 7 days

Step 4: 

Add your pronouns to your username if you are comfortable doing so,  

introduce yourself in your Slack channels

Step 5: 

Look in the “how to join a department” channel for the pinned list of departments

Step 6:

Contact the leader listed, to be added to the department 

Additionally, please DM Abby (She/hers) if you would like to lead a group that doesn’t exist yet.


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