By Maureen Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief
Here’s a final recap of my trip last week to the 25th quadrennial congress of the International Council of Nurses (ICN). (My previous posts on this year’s ICN events are here and here; there’s also a podcast of my interview with outgoing ICN president Rosemary Bryant.)
- Nurses and the Nazis. A session on ethics led by Australian nurse Linda Shields examined nursing in Nazi Germany and discussed how nurses might have rationalized participation in Nazi euthanasia and killing programs. She noted that aside from the usual “just following orders” mantra, obedience was tied to housing and livelihood, as well as to the belief that “the health of the volk (community) was more important than the health of the individual.” (The topic brings to mind our 2009 article, “The Third Reich, Nursing, and AJN” [abstract only], which made the case that “in the interest of promoting international cooperation and an image of nursing unity, AJN shirked its duty to hold German nurses accountable” for complicity in the Holocaust.)
- Nursing visibility. Presentations by Canadian nurse union leaders reminded me of home: they talked about campaigns to make what nurses do more visible, noting that if RNs were invisible and their work not valued, they would be at high risk for job cuts. Debbie Forward, president of the Newfoundland–Labrador Nurses Union, talked about “role clutter” and the loss of an RN identity when one couldn’t distinguish RNs from other health care providers, and she described a union campaign—the Clarity Project—to protect and promote the RN role. Sandi Mowatt from the Manitoba Nurses Association, which represents all levels of nurses, talked about initiatives to protect and support all nurses. Ten years ago, she said, only 26% of their members would recommend nursing as a career because of dissatisfaction with workplace policies and wages; today, 72% of nurses in the union would recommend nursing as a good career. Read the rest of this entry ?