United we stand, divided we will fall.
Subject: Nursing (Practice)
Nursing (Forecasts and trends)
Nursing (Social aspects)
Presidents (Organizations) (Beliefs, opinions and attitudes)
Author: Patterson, Lena
Pub Date: 03/22/2012
Publication: Name: Tennessee Nurse Publisher: Tennessee Nurses Association Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 Tennessee Nurses Association ISSN: 1055-3134
Issue: Date: Spring, 2012 Source Volume: 75 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics; 010 Forecasts, trends, outlooks; 290 Public affairs Computer Subject: Market trend/market analysis
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 283984737
Full Text: Nurses, the power is in our united voices. Today nursing is a respected profession in which nurses are revered as professionals. This comes as the result of decades of tireless service by many courageous and dedicated nurses and friends of nursing. It is because of these ongoing efforts, at both the national and state levels, that we have been victorious in gaining the privileges to practice as we currently do. The future of our practice depends on the strategic proficiency in which we approach never ending challenges.

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The nursing profession "is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations," as specifically defined by the American Nurses Association (ANA). Webster's dictionary generally defines a profession as "a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation." It also lists medicine and law as examples of professions. To have nursing considered among these professions after many years is indeed an accomplishment. Gaberson and Oermann (2010) state "Nursing is a professional discipline." They further define a professional as "an individual who possesses expert knowledge and skill in a specific domain, acquired through formal education in institutions of higher learning and through experience, and who uses that knowledge and skill on behalf of society by serving specified clients." It is difficult to deny nursing as a professional discipline with such an astute, comprehensive definition. Still, there are some who do not agree nursing deserves similar consideration as medicine.

Duffy, Dresser and Fulton (2007) promote the idea that getting involved in professional organizations can be helpful in the overall advancement of the nursing profession, which also promotes self-development, and ultimately the improvement of patient care. There are many organizations from which to choose, each with its own purpose: Profession-Based Organizations (ANA, TNA ...), Multidisciplinary Organizations (SCCM, AHA, ADA ...), Role-Based Organizations (NACNS, NNSDO, AONE, TONE ...), and Population-Based Organizations (AACN, ONS, WOCN, APNA, AORN ...). Each organization has its own mission statement and primary drive. For this reason, it is often advantageous to maintain membership in multiple categories of organizations leading to development opportunities for a well-rounded professional.

TNA and ANA are examples of profession based organizations which have a specific role in advancing the profession of nursing by generating and capitalizing on the financial, political, and intellectual power of the membership. The larger the membership, the more powerful the influence on the legislature and among stakeholders. Active membership in these organizations influences patient care and the overall nursing profession by making the members' views known. TNA and ANA amplify the unified voices of its members through advocacy. Resources are combined to effect changes that individual professionals may not be able to accomplish.

What is the cost of being a nursing professional? What is the cost to practice nursing in the state of Tennessee? What is the cost to patients? Before making any decisions on a course of action, it is wise to stop and assess the costs. It is easy to assess the known costs such as college tuition, fees, and books. It is also easy to prepare for predictable post-graduation fees for NCLEX preparation, NCLEX testing and licensure. Did anyone prepare you for the professional cost? Are you paying your dues as a professional?

Why did you become a nurse? No matter if you are an advanced beginner with limited experience or if you have advanced to the opposite end of the spectrum to an expert with numerous years of experience, this question still applies. Is patient centered care, safety, and advocacy the compass that guides everything you do, whether in the acute care setting, long term care setting, an institute of higher learning, or in the many other fields of nursing available to you? Are you fulfilling your professional duties? Are you using your talents? These are questions that only you can answer for yourself.

When is the last time you read the ANA Code of Ethics? If you have not read it lately, it is a sobering reminder of all that "professional" nursing is, a responsibility to uphold. If you haven't read it recently, or have to ask what I am referring to, go to XXX OVSTJOHXPSME PSH and read the Code of Ethics with interpretive statement.

The bottom line is being a nursing professional carries an obligation to guide the profession to maintain, and in some instances to establish, credibility among our stakeholders and legislators. This is done by the everyday image that you project on your job, in the way you do your job, and in the way that you carry yourself. However, it is also done in the way we communicate with our peers, our patients, our families, our communities, and those that legislate our practice. They need to hear from you, their constituents, who are professionals, who are also experts on issues concerning healthcare in general and nursing's impact on patient care specifically. TNA and ANA understand that you share these professional ideals; however, your lifestyle may not afford you the time to become an active member. Then support us with your dues and membership. In this way we have your voice. Additionally, contact your state legislators to voice your views. TNA will keep you up-to-date. It takes all of us united to uphold the profession of nursing in Tennessee. It only costs $23.67/month to increase our political power. This is a start. We are professional nurses. United we stand or divided we will fall. Will you join the efforts to face these ongoing challenges with strategic proficiency?

by Lena Patterson, MSN, RN, APRN, BC, CCNS
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.