March 21, 2007, 12:42 pm

Nursing Advocacy: Where Do YOU Fit In?


Oh puh-lease!

This looks like it’s a late ’60s, early ’70s ad.

Did people really believe this back then?

Personally, it makes me want to use an emesis basis for it’s appointed purpose.

It’s not the nurse.

She’s totally cool.

Superb cap ( a real 10/10 on the ECRS*), great photograph.

It’s the thought that Blue Cross isn’t in business for the profits.

I’m not sure where they are putting all the money they make, but they sure aren’t giving it to my primary physician, who doesn’t even take patients with Blue Cross insurance any more.

Give me the proverbial break, here.

[*ECRS: Emergiblog Cap Rating Scale]


Are you a nurse?

Then you are a nursing advocate.

The question is: are you advocating for or against the profession?

To paraphrase an old Police song: every move you make, every step you take…

…someone is watching you.

What message are you sending?


Maybe you are a pro-nursing advocate.

If you’re like me, you write about nursing. No need to put a gloss on it. It’s a hard, demanding profession.

Perhaps you can’t stand to see nursing portrayed unrealistically and you write letters to television producers, advertisers and newspaper editors, telling it like it really is.

You might be insulted by nursing stereotypes. The sexy nurse. The old hag nurse. Nurse Ratched. Major Margaret Houlihan. The nurse-as-handmaiden. The nurse as doctor’s sidekick. The airhead nurse. So, you do your best to get your voice out there and get insulting advertisements pulled that stop ad campaigns in their tracks.

Political action may be your thing. You picket the state capitol and chant slogans to promote staffing ratios. You are active in your state nursing organizations and in your specialty organizations. You collect signatures on petitions that will put health care issues on the ballot. You debate the pros and cons of a single-payer system with everyone who will listen in your county, your state and even in Washington and you know what you are talking about.

And maybe you don’t do any of those things.

Maybe you have a smile for your patients. You make them comfortable. You might go above and beyond the call of duty for a patient. You demonstrate just by doing your job the amount of intellect and education required for the profession.

Got nursing students in your unit? You precept one. You make her feel confident about her abilities. Prove to her that nurses really do not eat their young.

You tell the ten-year-old patient in the ER with a laceration who says he wants to be a doctor to remember he could choose to be a nurse. And tell him why that’s a good thing to consider.

Any of the above are examples of advocating for nursing. We all have different styles, but all these things are important.


Then again, you may be advocating against the nursing profession.

Yes, you!

Every time you act like you are bored stiff with your job or act bothered when a patient, doctor or family member makes a request.

Every time you treat a nursing student like they are invisible, or an inconvenience.

Every time you let a doctor scream/yell/throw things and make sarcastic comments about you individually or nursing as a profession and you don’t take action.

Every time a young person mentions they might want to be a nurse and you answer, “Dear god, don’t even think about it!”.

Every time you just accept stupid management decisions without making your opinion known.

You are advocating against the nursing profession and decreasing the stature of nursing in the eyes of management, medicine, your future colleagues and the general public.

You might not even realize you are doing it.


A personal ancedote: my 17-year-old daughter is taking Anatomy and Physiology as a senior in high school next year because she thinks it will be interesting.

“Rebecca!” I said, surprised at this sudden interest in science. “You could decide to be a nurse, you know!”

Mom,” she replied. “Why? You hate your job!”

I thought I’d been punched in the throat.

Even with my increased enthusiasm for my profession, even though she is aware of my blogging and even though she sees me going back to school at my age for an advanced degree in nursing, that isn’t what the term “nursing” brings to mind.

When she hears “nursing” she thinks: frustrated, burnt out and exhausted.

Because she heard it. She saw it.

That’s the vibe I gave off.

I was not an advocate for my profession at times. Even in my own home

And that is what my daughter associates with nursing.


Are you for nursing or actively working against yourself and the future of the profession?

Your actions. Your lack of action. Your speech, both in and out of the hospital. Your expressions. Your responses.


You are an advocate for or against nursing every minute of your life, whether you realize it or not.

Which is it?

The good news is that it is never too late to change.

I can vouch for it.


  • Dawn

    March 21, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    I’ve been a working RN for a whopping 5 weeks now, and when I heard Kelly Ripa’s quote about giving Regis “a sponge bath in my little nursey uniform” I nearly drove off the road, I was so PO’d. Hey Kelly, get off your overpaid skinny butt and spend a day on my telemetry unit, and see how ‘hot and sexy’ my job is. You wouldn’t last an hour, I imagine.

    How’s that for nursing advocacy Kim? I mean, really, I was just steamed!

  • Sandy Summers

    March 21, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Please join our Regis and Kelly campaign to ask the show to rectify the negative nursing images from Kelly’s sponge bath comments. Here’s the link:

    Our non-profit organization works to improve the negative media images you spoke about Kim. I like your post on “are you advocating for or against the nursing profession.” Well said.

    Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
    Executive Director
    The Center for Nursing Advocacy
    203 Churchwardens Rd.
    Baltimore, Maryland (MD) USA 21212-2937
    office 1-410-323-1100
    fax 1-443-705-0260

  • unsinkablemb

    March 21, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Great post!!! Made me really think about the vibe I send off. Thanks! M.

  • emily

    March 22, 2007 at 6:12 am

    Wow what a post. I have spent quite some time thinking about this over the past few months. I believe the best thing we can do for our profession is be a good recruiter. I always tell people that nursing is a very difficult profession, but it is worth ever second. It is like telling a 4 year old that a shot isn’t going to hurt if you only spead the sunshine 😉

  • Magpie

    March 22, 2007 at 8:03 am

    Great, well-thought-out post. If you haven’t already submitted it, I think it would be a great post for Change of Shift, or maybe Grand Rounds.

  • AzRN

    March 22, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    Well said! Personally, I LOVE being a nurse and I’ve been at it for 15 years (I don’t feel that old :D). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of burnout. But, nurses have so many options that if your job is a drag move on. There is a great opportunity waiting for you, I know, it has happened to me. And, yes, more than once.

    To paraphase Ginger Spice: “Nursepower, unite!”

  • ThirdDegreeNurse

    March 23, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    I know I probably don’t count for much since, as a student, I’m still plenty enthusiastic, but you’re right. I’ve posted about nurses who told me I’d be sorry I’d entered the profession — right there on the floor during clinicals. Geez. I don’t know of any other job (especially a profession) in which that kind of attitude is overlooked.

    I believe what we do is important. Tiring, but vital. And it’s worth my effort to do it well. I hope I can live up what I believe.

  • StudentNurseJack

    March 24, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Thank you for a well-timed reminder. On my frustrating clinical days, I need to remember that I signed up to meet the needs of the patient in that bed. Period.

  • Peggy

    March 29, 2007 at 11:36 am

    I grew up with a nurse. My mother the RN came home from a shift exhausted but HAPPY! What was wrong with her?

  • Nurse M

    April 4, 2007 at 6:20 am

    Excellent post!

  • Kelli Stellmon

    February 12, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    March 22, 2007 at 8:35 pm
    “Well said! Personally, I LOVE being a nurse and I’ve been at it for 15 years (I don’t feel that old :D). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of burnout. But, nurses have so many options that if your job is a drag move on. There is a great opportunity waiting for you, I know, it has happened to me. And, yes, more than once.
    To paraphase Ginger Spice: “Nursepower, unite!”

    I couldn’t help but wonder why you would use the picture you use of the sexy RN on the blog site that’s complaining about nurses being sexually exploited. Hmm. Gotta wonder.

  • Kelli

    February 12, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Third Degree Nurse,

    I agree with you. I too, am and RN student in my last semester after having been and LPN for 28 years. I’ve wanted to finish my degree for years. My husband is an RN also. But I find on my rotations that the majority of the RN’s I workd with are grumpy and complain about mentoring the students. Geez!!! They’re are the ones that make a bad name for the nursing profession. They were students once! I get sick of the whining. Retire for gosh sakes if you can’t handle the stress.

  • Nicole, RN

    October 28, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Great post!! It really makes you stop and think about it. Ones actions, sayings, and expressions CAN have a great impact on anyone, but people do not realize this. They can be negatively or positively toward the nursing profession.

    I am a newly graduated Registered Nurse. I have seen both the pros and cons towards the nursing profession. The nursing profession is tiring and sometimes overwhelming, and it is then that the nurses act negatively toward their profession. If nursing were easy, everybody would be one.

    We have to look past the tiring days and overwhelming times and realize why we are in the nursing profession. It is rewarding. Our compassion for others. An advocate, is one who supports or promotes the interest of another. We need to advocate positively for the nursing profession!!

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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