I was recently speaking with a meeting planner (someone who orchestrates conferences and conventions for a client) and she said she wanted me to speak to a group of hospital managers, all ‘former’ nurses. “Former nurses?” I echoed. “Yes,” she said. “They no longer do bedside nursing.” I swallowed hard and gave her my spiel about how nurses play many different roles in healthcare and that the title ‘nurse’ belongs to both the managers and the front line staff. “Oh, OK” she said. Later in the conversation she stated, “You’re perfect for this group because you’re a former nurse.” I felt like I was getting nowhere. I quickly interjected that I, too, am still very much a nurse in my current role – still a healer, a teacher, and nurturer. I underscored that nurses do many different things in many different ways. Again, she said, “Oh, OK.”
After 30 years in nursing, I’m used to defending the profession, clarifying our role, explaining what nurses really do, etc. At times it is frustrating and tiresome but, hopefully some of it will sink in somewhere along the way. Perhaps if nurses continue to work to get more visible and vocal in the community, in the media, in government, and in business, we can work collectively to underscore the broad scope of nursing, the true nature of what we do, and how we are changing the world in small and large ways everyday – each in our own way.
On a related topic, read Celebrate the Diversity of Nursing