"Why Nurses Should Be More Prominent"

By Barbara Waldorf Moderator Emeritus | 06 Dec, 2013

Last week the Global Nursing Caucus had the launch of our Year of Advocacy. We had a discussion about advocacy, nursing and global health which we will summarize in another post. The next morning, I found this article which articulated many of the issues we were speaking about. It is very provocative and forthright, with a really interesting commentary section at the end in response to all the comments the authors got when the article was first published. I would love to hear what others think about this issue and thoughts about how we advocate for ourselves.




Annie Mead Replied at 5:02 PM, 6 Dec 2013

Thanks for posting Barbara, I read this article for the first time today, as well as the commentary. As a new nurse with an int'l health background, I first want to say that I agreed whole-heartedly with the article and disagreed with the disgruntled commentary (from the medical community in particular). At the same time, I have to feel that if nurses are going to successfully position themselves as more prominent clinicians and leaders we're going to have to do so tactfully and in anticipation of where various audiences are coming from. In many ways, I am not surprised by the commentators for the kind of feedback they gave. I was taken aback, however, by the kind of stingy, bitter, verbal war that was created over what should be an exciting and collaborative effort.

I understand the article was meant to be provocative, but I can see how it can be antagonizing toward the medical field. For example, the article states "it is common for patients to feel less intimidated and more comfortable communicating with nurses than doctors..." A statement that to me says 'patients like us better' and without a source to back this up. In addition, one of the angry respondents was clearly upset by the line "nurses are more adept at some patient-centered activities than doctors...," which could have been presented differently in order to not make a statement so easily interpreted as 'we are better than you.' Perhaps we could have focused on very clear, real examples, in the health system context to show how nurses are filling gaps, without making our colleagues feel they are being pushed aside.

As a result, the kinds of statements made were an easy target for those in disagreement and, even worse, for those who haven't yet thought about the issue and would have been on board, but who now feel confronted and hostile to the cause. Again, I 100% agree with the agenda, but I think we need to very careful about which image of "nurses with an agenda" we present. I might suggest the kind of efforts to we use to push this agenda forward focus on research, interdisciplinary efforts, and nurses and leaders in a system we are improving and where we are recognizing the value of all actors, rather than a harsh, antagonizing front that I feel has now put us a step backward, not forward, in terms of gathering support.

Sheila Davis Moderator Emeritus Replied at 7:50 AM, 7 Dec 2013

I agree with you about nursing needed to change our language a bit and to back up what we say with evidence. I too, like many of you, was disheartened by the hostile commentary after the article. The level of anger and outright belittling appeared overly aggressive. Trying to see the lessons we may learn from this-- there are others obviously need to learn quite a bit as well! I am proud of our community of nurses--- we cannot let ourselves become engaged in a battle of insults but rather approach the dialogue with professionalism and learn from exchanges such as these to better articulate our profession and our connection with patients.
In solidarity,

Susan Wood, PNP-BC, MPH, IBCLC Replied at 6:19 PM, 8 Dec 2013

Annie & Sheila: Well said. Nursing needs to take the high road or risk being treated & seen as deficient, petty or worse. My experience in international settings has been that nursing & medicine can work collaboratively and respectfully, often with some overlap of skill sets yet also with complementary and distinct roles. So much depends on the players and the situation. But I am in total agreement that in these academic forums, such as the Global Summit as well as the one that preceded it @ HMS in October (Safe Motherhood/Safe Childhood), nurses are invisible. We have a long road ahead to be a voice in these bastions of academia. Susie

Annie Mead Replied at 10:14 AM, 10 Dec 2013

Thank you Susan and Sheila for the replies. I think this forum, for example, is a great way for nurses to work with each other to build our professionalism, get on the same page, build strategy, etc... I am still exploring the site to learn about ways nurses are building professionalism and respect in collaboration with the physician community. Would love to hear more from all of you about your experiences.

Maggie Sullivan Moderator Replied at 12:29 PM, 10 Dec 2013

Hi Annie - I just wanted to draw your attention to our "Introductions" thread at http://www.ghdonline.org/nursing/discussion/introductions-3/. Here you can read about members' experience and interest. However, as you'll notice, it's now a year old. Feel free to take the opportunity to introduce yourself, and we invite all members who haven't done so to do the same!

chris macrae Replied at 1:08 PM, 10 Dec 2013

Its a great article. We would like to improve worldwide youth understanding that affordable healthcare everywhere depends most on the future of nurses, who we see as both the most trusted community service workers and mobilising modern day knowhow searches of most life critical sort

we have helped to start the lowest cost but best quality nursing college network; we strongly celebrate every time khan academy has a competition on what health information training can be labbed through his online campus;

we want post 2015 goals summits to converge around open education and would love to see nurses (and their impacts on youth) being one of the early champions of such a summit process- we are looking for the right figurehead to lead this massive collaboration -sir fazle abed of http://BRAC.net being one; two being currently closer to home in Boston and DC

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