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From The Desk of Dean Stuart

September 2013

College of Nursing - Dean Stuart

"Just a Nurse"

By Dean Gail Stuart, PhD, RN, FAAN

One of my pet peeves emerges when I am in a group of health care providers who are asked to introduce themselves and describe their work. I listen as each professional detail his or her important and unique contributions to the work at hand. My attention turns expectantly to the nurse member of the group and my disappointment is acute when I hear "oh, I am just a nurse." Like a punctured balloon, my pride in our profession deflates and flattens.

online PhD in NursingReally - is that what we think of ourselves? Is that the value we place on the intense, intimate, skillful and demanding work we do each and every day? Is that really how we want to represent ourselves and our profession to others? Is that the leadership we ascribe to as nurses?

If so, then it's no surprise that we receive little credit in the media for our central role in health care, or that we remain the invisible glue of the health care system. If we cannot articulate clearly, confidently and proudly what we contribute and the many talents we have, then we cannot complain when our profession is overlooked or marginalized under the umbrellas of those professionals who can and do speak up and describe their value to others.

At no other time in the history of nursing has the public at large seen us as such a valued health care provider. We have a decade, yes a full decade, of repeatedly being identified in Gallup polls as the most trusted and ethical of all professions. So we must internalize this external feedback and proudly and thoughtfully take every possible opportunity in every possible forum to describe what we do and the essential role we play in health care, not only today but in the future. In truth, we are not "just a nurse" we are "essentially a nurse"...Gail



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