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Professional citizenship and stewardship.... what?.... Why?

The Colorado Nurses Foundation continues to explore, implement and support ways to develop professional citizenship, stewardship and advocacy as professional attributes for all nurses. In this edition of the Colorado Nurse, I want to discuss the concepts of professional citizenship and stewardship.

How often do you think about citizenship and stewardship and what they really mean in the context of the professional role? How are these characteristics integrated into day to day approaches to nursing practice and the community in which nursing and professional activities take place? In order to engage as professional citizen and steward, consider the following definitions that provide some context to this discussion.

Citizenship as defined in Merriam Webster Dictionary (online) is the status of being a citizen as determined by certain requirements and expectations. It also means membership in a community as well as the quality of an individual's involvement in a particular community. defines the term citizen as follows: "Person who is entitled to enjoy all the legal rights and privileges granted by a state to the people comprising its constituency, and is obligated to obey its laws and to fulfill his or her duties as called upon." Stewardship is a term used by numerous organizations to describe the obligations of members of such groups. The common terms for these expectations are presented to members in the categories of "time, talent, and treasure."

Using these definitions as the backdrop, it seems that inherent in being a member of a professional group, defined publicly by the profession itself in three published documents: Nursing's Social Policy Statement, Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, and Nursing Code of Ethics that the expectation to fulfill the requirements of a professional citizen and steward are unquestionably identified as to what it is expected of every member of the profession. If this is not sufficient evidence that a profession demands by its own definitions sufficient evidence for every member to act as professional citizens and stewards, the legal parameters of practice defining nursing competencies, roles and scope further cement the necessity for the existence and implementation of these roles of citizenship and stewardship.

I would now like to pose a few questions for professional nurses to use to determine their level of commitment to the implementation and integration of the roles of citizen and steward of the profession.

* Do you participate in professional organization that demands involvement and commitment to decision making about the profession? (Voting as a citizen of a country)

* Can you name three national nursing leaders that speak nationally for nursing on issues of practice? Leaders at the state level?

* Do you know what current public policy issues that affect nursing are being debated and discussed at the state and/or national level?

* Do you know how many legislators are in the Colorado General Assembly?

* Can you name your own state representative and state senator?

* Do you know the names of the Colorado Senators and Representatives in Congress?

* Do you belong (treasure- supporting economically the voice of nursing) to at least two nursing organizations that are addressing the professions issues?

* Do you give time and talent (your knowledge and expertise) to the profession of nursing through involvement in nursing organizations that are working for the betterment of the profession and its members?

* If you answered all of the previous questions in the affirmative, you are beginning to fulfill the basics to be a citizen of the profession.

Professional engagement in nursing through the roles of citizen and steward are a required expectation for all professional nurses. The future of nursing as a viable and visible leader in a changing health care delivery system is dependent upon a change in nurses' perspectives regarding the issues of the profession beyond the direct care role. As recommended in the IOM study of October 2010 nurses need to be leaders in boardrooms, workplaces, community and public policy arenas to bring the unique and valuable perspective that nurses have regarding professional nursing practice and vital health care issues.

Sara Jarrett, EdD, RN

President CNF
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Title Annotation:From the Desk of the CNF President
Author:Jarrett, Sara
Publication:Colorado Nurse
Date:May 1, 2015
Previous Article:Nurses rank #1 most trusted profession for 15th year in a row.
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