Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nursing and Transformation in the New Year

As the dawn of 2012 beckons, I hold a new vision for the nursing profession.

Along with the rest of large segments of humanity, nurses are waking up. Nurses are realizing that the old paradigms no longer apply, and that the vestiges of Old World thinking (when it comes to nursing and medicine) are dying as we speak. Health care must be transformed, and since nurses are the largest segment of the American health care industry (and perhaps in the world), we nurses could indeed "occupy" health care in a way that could potentially turn the entire industry on its head. The political will of nurses will be tested, and I am encouraged by the rumblings that I hear as I put my ear to the virtual tracks.

Contrary to popular images propagated by the media (in Hollywood, television, the news, and other sources), nurses are not handmaidens to doctors, sex kittens in white uniforms, or background characters who simply serve as foils to George Clooney and other TV doctors. (Although we may notice on close inspection that only actors who play doctors on shows such as "ER" ever seem to move into the limelight.)  Nurses are more than this, whether the media wish to portray us realistically or not.

As usual, nurses have ranked as the most trusted professionals in the United States yet again in the most recent Gallup poll. This is the 12th time out of 13 years that nurses have earned this honor from the American people. The only occasion when nurses were not the number one most trusted professionals was in 2001 when firefighters earned that top spot following their heroic efforts in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

From my own perspective, one way for nurses to be more effective is to be more vigilant in their own self care. That's why I have decided to offer my own coaching services for nurses to assist them in living the healthiest and most satisfying lives possible. Nurses can impact the health care industry when they are healthy and balanced. Thus, preventing burnout and adopting a healthy lifestyle can have a far reaching impact on patients, fellow nurses, other colleagues, and beyond.

I am proud to be a nurse, and I can see that the nursing industry is still in it infancy when it comes to embracing change, championing that change, and subverting the dominant paradigms that keep nurses and nursing care relegated to the past rather than focused on the future. Still, I'm hopeful, optimistic and looking forward to the ways in which nursing---and the world at large---will transform in 2012. These are momentous times, and we have only seen the tip of the iceberg as Americans---and people all over the world---wake up to the many disparities that are crying out for transformation. Nurses can lead the way in health care, and I hope to be part of the actions and conversations that bring that transformation into being.

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