Think spinach, not poor little nurse image When Popeye needed extrastrength, he wolfed down a can of spinach, and he could take on anyone. Maybe nurses need some spinach.
Why do nurses see themselves as power- less? I was with a group of nurses recently who were being asked for their support. What was their response? Go ask the surgeons. They have the power. What can a poor little nurse do?
It happened again a few days later. Some- one said to me, Wouldnt this information be considered more valid if it were published in a surgeons publication rather than the AORN Journal?
Why? I asked. In this situation, nurses have just as good information and knowledge as surgeons.
Surgeons do have more power. I suppose I cant argue with that. Is it because they bring the paying customer-the patient-into the hospital? Is it because they make more money? Is it because they are predominantly male? Is it because they have more educa- tion? All these may be factors. But I think it is something more. They assume they have in- fluence and power. They dont wait around for someone to tell them, Okay, now you have power and are free to use it. I am willing to bet they dont go around thinking of themselves as the poor little doctor.
Power isnt something that someone can give to you. It doesnt come in a can like Popeyes spinach, or even in a cereal box. Wheaties wont do it. You have to want power, and then you have to know how to get it and how to use it.
Women feel uncomfortable about power. We werent brought up to seek either money or power. But we have come to realize that money is handy, and power can also be useful.
Power can be used to accomplish your goals. Nurses complain they cant achieve pa- tient care goals because they have no power within the hospital. We heard it at the National Commission on Nursing hearings, which looked at the reasons for the nursing shortage. The administrator supports the physicians, but he doesnt always listen or back nurses. Yet nurses are the largest group of hospital em- ployees. They are professionals, and they have the most contact with patients-the pay- ing customers. But nurses arent participating in the decision making that relates to nursing care.
How can nurses achieve more power? If you dont like spinach, look at these sources.
Knowledge is power. Any nurse, no matter what her position, who knows what she is talk- ing about and can back up her opinion with facts, has power. This kind of knowledge comes from reading, continuing education, and discussing ideas and issues.
Position is power. The nursing administrator or OR supervisor has power because of posi- tion. If this power is used wisely, the person in this position will keep his or her power. But if this person is not knowledgeable or doesnt know how to communicate, he will soon lose the respect of staff and superiors and find him- self powerless.
Education is power. As more nurses are educated at the baccalaureate, masters and doctorate level, nursing will be recognized as more powerful in the institutional setting. Through continuing education, individual nurses can increase their power by adding to
1052 AORN Journal, May 1982, Vol35, No 6
their knowledge and skill. Certification is power. Professional recogni-
tion of nursing practice increases power. The certified nurse has made an effort to upgrade her practice and seek recognition for it.
Action is power. Nurses who are willing to take action, to lobby, to talk with legislators, and to defend their practice have power. They seek involvement in policy-making groups. They don't wait to be asked.
Collaboration is power. Nurses who work together to achieve their goals, whether in their institution, their professional organization, or their community, are more powerful than those who do not support each other.
You can be powerful as an individual, and nurses can be powerful as a group. You can influence events in your hospital, in your chap- ter, a n d h your community. We are hearing that nurses are increasingly aware and in- terested in what is happening in the federal government and in state legislatures. And they are doing something about it.
Don't assume you are a "poor little nurse." See yourself as you truly are-a powerful, in- fluential nurse.
Elinor S Schrader Editor
NLN calls for BSN as minimum preparation for professional nursing The board of directors of the National League for Nursing passed a new position statement in February calling for the baccalaureate in nursing as the academic preparation for professional nursing practice. The statement notes that a shift in the responsibility for health care is placing greater demands on the nursing profession and the individual nurse. There is a greater concern that nurses must be adequately prepared to make independent judgments based on sound knowledge and experience. Nurses also must be adequately prepared so their services will be appropriately used.
The statement continues that nursing may be viewed as a continuum beginning with simple nurturing tasks, progressing through increasingly complex responsibilities, and culminating in critical decision-making responsibilities. A corresponding range of nursing roles is required to meet these responsibilities in vocational, technical, and professional nursing practice.
for broad knowledge in the arts and sciences and clinical skills for making independent judgments requires the minimum of a baccalaureate with a major in nursing, according to the statement. Technical nursing practice requires an
In professional nursing practice, the need
associate degree or diploma in nursing, and vocational nursing requires a certificate or diploma in vocational or practical nursing.
four routes into nursing but had not specified which level called for which type of preparation.
The League had previously supported the
Abdellah appointed as deputy surgeon general Faye Abdellah, RN, is the first nurse and first woman to be appointed as deputy surgeon general of the US Public Health Service (PHS). Her position as deputy to Surgeon General C Everett Koop, MD, took effect Jan 25. An officer of the PHS commissioned corps for the past 30 years, Abdellah has most recently held the position of assistant surgeon general and chief nurse officer of the PHS, in which she has sewed as a focal point for nursing and as a chief adviser on long-term care policy. She will perform the duties of deputy surgeon general and chief nurse officer.
received 28 academic awards and professional honors. She earned her doctorate from Columbia University, New York City, and her nursing diploma from Ann May School of Nursing, Fitkin Medical Center in New Jersey.
A native of New York City, Abdellah has
1054 AORN Journal, May 1982, Vol35, No 6