The President unveiled a statue of Rosa Parks yesterday — the little old black lady who had the courage to stay in her seat on the bus while being threatened by the bully white bus driver. With that one action, she really began to make civil rights happen. She moved it forward, she gave it meaning, and others followed her and helped to end segregation.

What are the chances that there would have been a civil rights movement if nurses were leading it?

Why don’t we, as nurses, make the same kind of statement against the injustices we watch happening in the health care system today? Why won’t we stand against the corporations that we know are abusing us and our patients? Why aren’t we fighting for respect, autonomy, and the same rights as other professionals?

There are actions we can take that corporations would have no ammunition against-if we all stood together. Why aren’t we insisting on an education that prepares us for the job we’re promised, and if they don’t deliver, why aren’t we just charting more slowly, and taking the time we need to take care of our patients?

Do you really think that’s harder, takes more courage, or is more dangerous than refusing to give up your seat on a bus that offered people with white skin more respect than those with black or brown skin? Doesn’t that seem incredibly primative and insane now?

We have examples of courage in our history and we all know the cost of change. But there is no progress unless we have the courage to take that risk. Are nurses ever going to do that or are we just going to bitch and moan about a situation we aren’t willing to risk the status quo to change?

Ask yourself…..Would you stay in your seat? Would you chart more slowly, care for those in need despite the threats from administration? Who are we? What are nurses all about? What do we believe in now?

And why do patients vote us the most trusted profession? Just wondering…

4 thoughts on “Standing Up or Rolling Over?

  1. Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids.
    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and
    said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to
    tell someone!

  2. A very good question! Compared to other professions we have the numbers, but we do not have the association membership/infrastructure.

  3. WOW, Great questions Carol. I wonder what Rosa was like. Did she love and respect herself? Did she take care of her health? Did she value herself so much that she put herself first? I would venture to bet that she did indeed do those things. I think part of the struggle that nurses have against standing up for what is right is that we have come to accept the lack of appreciation. We have forgotten that we are valuable and worthy and respected. We do not take the time or put in the energy to care for ourselves. We are so busy taking care of other people- which is a fabulous thing, don’t get me wrong- but we do that to a fault. We take so much care of others because we love, respect, and care for them… why don’t we love, respect, and care for ourselves? I’d bet that if each nurse was just a little bit healthier, a little bit more clear-headed, a little less fatigued or stressed out… we’d have the courage and confidence that it will take to stand up for what we know in our hearts is right. Thank you for a wonderful article! Have a healthy day.

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