As a faculty member, I always enjoyed graduation celebrations. Watching the future workforce receive their diplomas, from novice nurses to our next generation of nurse scientists, is an affirmation of the commitment and investment that faculty make to their students and the future of nursing.
This year a colleague sent me a link to the ceremony at the Duke School of Nursing where for 14 years I had been in the faculty procession each May. A special moment in the ceremony is always the student speaker; the 2016 speaker was Courtney Caiola, PhD, MPH, RN, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill School of Nursing. She used the analogy of the skeleton of the body to discuss nursing.
As we know, the skeleton is the support of the body; it holds us upright. As Caiola said, without it we would be a lump of flesh. She noted, though, that it has another function: it aids in the movement of the body and helps propel us forward. Think then of nursing as the skeleton of the healthcare system. As a profession, are we not the support structure in hospitals and the community? I echo her questions: Are we aiding the movement of our healthcare system? Are we engaged in the discussions and planning of needed change? Are we at the tables, and if we are there, are we speaking, bringing our knowledge and expertise into the conversations?
The Nurses on Board Coalition aims to increase the number of nurses on health system and industry boards to be engaged in the critical discussion and change processes our healthcare system needs. ONS has joined this coalition, and we are pleased that member Laura Benson, RN, MS, ANP, is our representative. Laura brings movement to all she does, and her years of professional and volunteer leadership experience will be an asset to this coalition.
Movement of our healthcare system is all of our responsibility. You may wonder what you can do. We have previously communicated ways for you to share your experiences and ideas related to the Cancer Moonshot at cancerresearchideas.cancer.gov. Until August 30, you can submit your ideas about how to make clinical trials information more accessible. In your organization, seize opportunities to improve your patients’ care experience, even if that means speaking up against the status quo. Look at the membership of your organization’s board. Are there nurses on the board? Make a recommendation to your chief executive officer explaining the important knowledge that nurses would bring to the board. Who better to be a voice for high quality and safe care?
You may think your voice won’t make a difference. However, I know a small group of nurses, who in tribute to a colleague who died from cancer, changed a benefit structure at a major university against the odds. They could have been a static skeleton, but they chose to be movement. I encourage you to join the movement in advancing the needed changes in our healthcare system. Let ONS know if there are resources that will help you. This is your professional organization.