What comes to mind when you hear the term “professional activism?” Images of picket signs and strike lines? Press conferences and letters to the editor? Politics? Social justice? Environmentalism? What about labor management meetings, committees and workgroups, relationship building and education?
Professional activism is the engagement of skilled and competent professionals utilizing strategic campaigning to achieve a goal.
In nursing, it is nurses coming together to assess a need and identify the problem, design and implement a plan to address the issue, evaluate that plan, and repeat until the problem is solved. Sound familiar? It’s the nursing process applied to the profession instead of a single patient.
Nurses already know how to be activists. It’s collaborative advocacy with a plan. We’re already advocates for our patients, so why can’t we expand our perspective to see that we can make a valuable impact beyond the bedside? We can. Nothing is stopping us.
Imagine what we could do if all nurses, at every level of the profession and across all settings, came together to solve issues like staffing, workplace violence, quality care, fiscal responsibility, transition and growth within our industry. We would change the world.
One of my mentors told me something I live by to this day: “Leave the patient at least a little better off than how you found them, and you’ll know you’ve made a difference.” I challenge every nurse, regardless of your position or title, to decide for yourself right now: What are you willing to do to leave our profession better off than when you came into it? What will your legacy be? What will that look like? What are you waiting for?
What will it be?
Seek out quality education to improve your leadership skills and understanding of the business of health care. You need to understand the business to form effective arguments for change.
Find your passion
What gets your heart pumping about the profession? Good or bad. Put a plan in place to promote the good; change the bad.
Find an outlet for this energy. Union nurses, call your representative or organizer and talk about your options within your union. Non-union nurses, talk about what you care about with others and invite them to join you in your efforts. ANY RN, regardless of their practice area or title, can and should be a member of WSNA as your state professional nurses association.
Call WSNA today, and we’ll help you find your place. Join a committee, run for elected leadership position, volunteer to do educational outreach, connect with your community. Advocacy is what WSNA does, and we invite you to join us today.