NEW YORK NURSE: April 2009
by Bill Donovan, MA, RN, Chair, Council on Nursing Practice
When you read the title of this column, your first thought probably was, “Bill has it backwards!” All of us at least once in our lives have been told to practice what we preach. But my change was deliberate – fear not for my mental health.
To tell you we are living in trying times would be restating what you already know. We also are living in times when there will be great change in how healthcare is delivered and the role that nurses play in this new configuration.
By the word “preach,” I mean that we must open our mouths, raise our voices, and let the world know what nursing is all about. We must take every opportunity to tell our friends and neighbors about what we care deeply about – being a nurse and practicing the finest nursing care in the world.
There are many ways to get the message out. We need to be visible at community meetings and make sure that when we sign in, we put RN after our names. RN should be used in all areas of community involvement that are appropriate.
When donating to charities, I always make sure that I put RN after my name to let them know that nurses care and are involved with the cause.
We must speak out at every opportunity about what brought us to nursing and what keeps us there. These sessions could occur at career days at school, community meetings, political meetings, and even meetings with other nurses. When you get to the microphone at meetings, make sure you identify yourself as a nurse. We each have unique stories and they should be shared with our co-workers and other colleagues.
There are many forums in which to get the message out about nursing. The Internet offers opportunities, as do local newsletters, panels of speakers, and this publication. I would encourage the members of this association to write articles for this publication. It is a great forum for sharing practices we have found to be effective in many different situations.
The association also offers CE programs online. This might be an opportunity to develop a learning module on your area of expertise.
As part of getting ready to preach, we must all keep current on the new developments in our areas of specialization and in nursing in general. We should subscribe to the appropriate nursing journals for our practice and attend continuing education programs.
We also must not forget our heritage. There are many who came before us and many more who will follow us. We need to support efforts to archive our histories. There are many private foundations, hospitals, and schools of nursing that are working to preserve our heritage. Our efforts could be volunteering to help out or giving donations to keep the work going on. We need to look to those who are retired and those more seasoned nurses who can share some of their knowledge and experiences. Oral history projects are an important way to preserve our legacy.
So, my challenge to all is to get out there and Preach What You Practice.