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No time for stage fright or fight. (From the Editor).

WE'RE IN THE SPOTLIGHT NOW--CENTER STAGE! Never before has there been such public attention paid to the nursing profession. As nurses, we continue to congratulate each other on the fact that Johnson & Johnson has taken up our cause. After all, the corporation's investment in nursing of $20 million over the next two years says to the public that nursing is an important career.

From the first ads that appeared on prime-time television during the Winter Olympics, to the continuing portraits of real nurses in spotlight ads, this recruitment campaign is an important acknowledgement of who we are and what we do. But Johnson & Johnson's investment also acknowledges for nurses what we have known all along--we need help in translating our message to the world.

We all know that this nursing shortage is like no other. Daily we experience the frustrations of nurses in the hospitals who are tired, overworked, and underappreciated. Within the academic hallways we know that we are getting older, and that too few of us are available to expand our nursing education programs. So, when Johnson & Johnson took up our cause and took our message public, we were all a little relieved. We needed the respite from the past several years of toiling in the trenches of nursing education and nursing care delivery.

Now the government is on our side as well. Our cause is receiving additional attention--and, hopefully, additional funding--at the federal and state levels. Statewide and regional planning programs for nursing are becoming common. When the model is one of collaboration, we can expect success.

There remains, however, the reality of our history, our past struggles of competition between and among nursing organizations. I have already heard rumblings as nursing organizations attempt to capture the limelight and capitalize on the current momentum to advance their own cause, more than the cause of the profession. It does not help at all that we have organizations with overlapping missions, and some organizations that are in search of a mission. I have not yet heard the song of collaboration, which we all know, intellectually, is key to our prosperity and survival as a profession.

As important as it is to reduce the stage fighting, it is just as critical that we overcome our stage fright. As nurses, we are not used to being courted and sought for our opinions. We have not always been able, individually and collectively, to articulate the good that we do, the contributions that we make to the science of health and wellness, and the differences that we make in the lives of our patients and the welfare of our society.

What if each nurse would write to his or her elected officials and describe nursing as a worthwhile profession? What if we all would write to our local and national news media and tell our stories--how we saved a life, or comforted a dying person, or helped family members cope with the illness of a loved one? What if each one of us recruits one student into nursing? We would double our ranks within a short period of time through this small recruitment effort.

Equally important would be our individual efforts to convince a colleague to stay in nursing, rather than change careers and be lost to the profession. These are just a few ideas about how we can make a difference.

It is time for each of us to enter "center stage" and fight together for continuing prime time for nursing. It is time to reject the fight-and-flight behaviors that have characterized our past.
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Author:Fitzpatrick, Joyce J.
Publication:Nursing Education Perspectives
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2002
Words:592
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