We Have Never Been Nurses

We Have Never Been Nurses

Isn’t this a startling thought?  That’s what I thought when I first heard about this article, We Have Never Been Nurses in Advances in Nursing Science, 2020.

Yes, it is heavily academic, but sizes up where we are as a discipline and how we got here.

Where we go from here is hazy.   Nursing, as a distinct discipline and profession, has always been shackled by our employment and economic dependence on the healthcare industry, and other systems of employment such as public health and education.

The overall impact of positivism and capitalism in health care has had specific consequences for the discipline of nursing, especially in the US.

These consequences include technological optimism, capitalist health care systems, empirical teleology, structural inequality, and wholesale embrace of the commodification of nursing work. This ultimately impedes the discipline of nursing from fulfilling its full emancipatory potential, leading us to question whether, under the circumstances, we have ever been nurses.             Vol. 43, No. 2, p. 132


Where I have been; And nursing now

Since COVID-19,  I have been staying safe, observing current events, and being proud of being a nurse.

Nursing’s contribution to healthcare and society has never been so loud in the media.

Up until recently,  I thought there was nothing that could change healthcare.   Not so ….

All of us will be forever changed by this pandemic and the demand for social justice, even the healthcare industry.

I have been writing –  expanding my conversations with nurses and about nursing beyond authentic/conscious caring.

My scope now is to capture nursing’s distinct disciplinary domain of attending to the human condition.

We see the need in the images of patients and nurses facing COVID-19.

The disproportionate susceptibility to COVID-19 among ​​​​​​​​​vulnerable populations
The fractured response of our public health & healthcare ​​​​​​​​​infrastructures and systems
Health disparities are more evident now because of this pandemic
We are witnessing the longterm impact of social injustice structures on the human condition … ( ie. those forces beyond the control of the individual – social systems, geography and environments)


I believe: 

Nursing is at the fulcrum of the forces needed to humanize and strengthen
public health and healthcare.

But what will we be “allowed” to do?


The state of nursing within HC

Along with the devastation of COVID-19 and social reckoning, here are highlights in nursing journals from national nurse leaders that are startling (Should I have been startled?):

 It’s Now or Never , editorial by Rosanne Raso, Nursing Management, August 2020

Read closely, these are startlingly frank words. 

“Our national nursing organizations take political presence and nurses’ influence seriously. Thoughtful press releases and letters are released. Is anyone reading them? There’s no nurse on the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Nurses are denied media exposure, website pages, and participation in external activities by their workplaces. Read any health or health policy news article and most likely you won’t see a quote from a nurse.

Our thought leaders and nursing legends are trying. It can’t be a handful of us—it should be all of us….

We don’t need permission to have a voice, and it’s critically important. In these days of endless information-sharing, people are now able to see more than ever how nurses make a difference. The time is right. Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm once said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Let’s stay off the menu and pull up a folding chair if that’s what it takes. Nursing voices must be heard at every level, and leadership advocacy is crucial. It feels like now or never… and it won’t happen magically.”

Editorial    by Maureen Shawn Kennedy    AJN ▼ June 2020

It’s hard to completely fault hospitals for not having enough supplies for a pandemic surge, or, in looking for guidance, for following the CDC’s advice, however unvetted and ill conceived, to stretch the supply of PPE they did have. (See AJN Reports.) Some hospitals made Herculean efforts to secure equipment when federal response lagged. But one can fault hospitals for reprimanding nurses who sought to provide PPE for themselves and their colleagues or, worried about their reputation, fired those who spoke out publicly about the lack of PPE. Especially repugnant are those hospitals that, to avoid liability and workers’ compensation claims, made frontline nurses who contracted COVID-19 prove they did so on the job.

There is a lot to absorb in these times

Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Stay safe, wear a mask, physical distance,

Spend time in nature,

Look up at the sky

image courtesy of Frances Gunn @ unsplash.com

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