Nurse ActivismA Repository of Resources, Theory, and Tools for the Engaged Nurse
The Perfect Time is Now!!!
Moving Beyond the Confines
Never before have nurses had such high esteem in the public and professional eye. We have long been valued, but it has only been recently that all sectors of society truly realized the extent of nursing knowledge, ability, and scope. Nurses are not just focused on health care per se, but apply a holistic view on the ills of society in general. Nurses now graduate with degrees in much of the world, and are equipped to participate in the political arena, to advocate and plan activist initiatives that target important issues.
Collective Action Works!
Learn to Work Together
As des Jardin (2001a) wrote: “Nurses can increase their political power and have a greater effect on all levels of politics, from institutional to federal by using three elements of influence--communication, collectivity, and collegiality.”
We need to learn the political process together, and join forces with other nurses, other professionals, and the general public as a whole to critically strategize initiatives that can not fail. Adding our ingenuity to the mix adds unimaginable power to activist campaigns. Nurses provide a spark that can be literally paradigm-shifting if we are able to articulate our goals and propose solutions that can meet the needs of those involved.
Building Political Prowess
Developing Your Skills
Never underestimate the importance of what you have to say. As a professional, you bring a unique perspective to health care issues and often have intricate knowledge that helps provide insight for government officials. There are various skills that you can cultivate to develop your political prowess, including lobbying, forming coalitions, addressing political groups with addresses and solutions for political reform, joining national organizations to support their political initiatives and so on.
Take Political Action!
Although it is true that reform is often the goal of activism, quite often, politically initiated reform is the actual TARGET of activism. When government sanctioned reform impacts negatively on the freedom, rights, accessibility, social determinants of health, and general well-being of the public population, reform becomes the focus of many activist initiatives.
“Nurses maintain values that promote individualized patient care and collaboration among health care professionals. It is important that nurses are represented in the formation of health care policy and that these values, as well as nursing knowledge and expertise, are shared with politicians and reflected in quality health care legislation that is cost-effective. Nursing's active involvement in the molding of public policy through political commitment is a necessity; it is not enough to wait and see where legislation takes the profession and how changes in public policy will affect patients. If nurses do not become involved and employ a values-laden approach to politics, they have no power over their own future, and health care will suffer from their lack of participation." ( Des Jardin, 2001a).
Health care is not the only sector of the public trust that will suffer - nurses have the mandate, knowledge, and scope that encompasses all social issues that require reform, or are affected by politically initiated reform. It is the perfect time in history for nurses to become actively and powerfully involved in many societal causes that must be addressed to ensure the health and well-being of the current and future population across the globe.
Alice Baumgart (1999) listed various issues that impacted on nurses and political action, including:
* social norms and power distribution
* blocked opportunities
* tokenism public perception of nurses and nurse's work
All citizens have the right and duty to participate in the legislative process. To become a serious agent for change, individuals need to make their concerns known to local,national, and even internationally elected officials for real change to occur.
"Understanding health in its social context helps us to see that the primary determinants of health and illness are social, political, and economic in nature." ( CNA, 2000).
Coming Soon - Downloadable Political Action Manual! Stay Tuned!