A great time to be a nurse

As nurses, we wouldn’t trade the intimate interactions we have with strangers who become trusting patients, or the adrenaline rush we get when saving a life, or our solitary visits to heal the souls and wounds of people without families or friends, or the impact we have on students who accept the awesome responsibility of becoming a nurse—we wouldn’t trade any of these things to work in another profession. We are 3.1 – 3.6 million strong, more diverse and better educated than in previous years. Our earnings are up, too. And nursing continues to be the country’s most trusted profession, with 83% of Americans rating nurses’ honesty and ethical standards as high or very high in Gallup’s annual survey of professions.

International Year of the Nurse

We’re celebrating the 2010 International Year of the Nurse (2010 IYNurse). This year marks 100 years since the death of Florence Nightingale, and we’re honoring her legacy as the visionary founder of modern nursing. Launched by Sigma Theta Tau International, the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health, and the Florence Nightingale Museum, the 2010 IYNurse initiative includes a public awareness campaign to engage the world’s more than 15 million nurses in promoting health and well-being in our communities and around the globe. Part of this work is the Nightingale Declaration, which aims to secure nurses’ commitment to achieving a healthy world over the next decade. To add your name to the declaration and join the millions seeking to achieve health for all humanity, visit www.nightingaledeclaration.net/declaration/healthy/.

Power and influence

We are committed to improving the profession for the future—not just emerging from the depressed job market but transforming the ways we work, teach, learn, and influence the delivery of health services. In a recent Robert Wood Johnson poll conducted by Gallup, national opinion leaders said they viewed nurses as a trusted information source but without adequate influence on healthcare reform. These leaders would like to see nurses have a greater influence in reducing medical errors, improving patient safety, and contributing to healthcare changes that address the growing diversity of our population. They want us to speak out and be heard, to take responsibility for developing healthcare leadership as a core competency.

We’re well on our way to doing this as more and more distinguished nurses take the helm of important organizations affecting health care nationally. For instance, Marilyn Tavenner, Virginia’s former Secretary of Health and Human Resources, recently was named principal deputy administrator for the Centers for Medi­care & Medicaid Services. This makes her the second-ranking official at the agency and the Obama administration’s most senior appointment to the agency. And did you know the outgoing president of AARP is a nurse? Jennie Chin Hansen was elected to a 2-year term as president in 2008.


Advocacy

But you don’t have to be famous to change the nation. Texas nurse Anne Mitchell was fired from her job for reporting concerns about the standard of care provided by a physician in a local hospital and clinic; she also was charged with a third-degree felony for “misuse of official information.” The Texas Nurses Association, ANA, and nurses across the country mobilized to assist her with the legal battle, creating a legal defense fund. Mitchell eventually triumphed and was acquitted of all charges—a resounding victory for patient safety and the nurse’s right to advocate for and speak up about quality of care.

Later this year, the Initiative on the Future of Nursing (sponsored by the Institute of Medicine and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) will release its transformational report on nursing. Expected to be bold and far-reaching, the report will reflect the voices of nurses and stakeholders across the country, and include a blueprint for action to address innovative ways to solve the nursing shortage and prepare the workforce to meet the demands of a reformed healthcare and public health system for the future.

Nurses are changing the world at the local, regional, national, and international levels. We’re advancing new models for nursing education, managing transitions in care, and helping consumers navigate the world of electronic data to better manage their health and wellness. We’re giving selflessly to others through volunteerism, relief efforts, political action, and day-to-day caring. We are the “sunlight in our universe.” What a great time to be a nurse!

Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, FAAN, NEA-BC

Editor-in-Chief

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