If you haven’t read the Viewpoint column in the March issue of AJN, “Just a Nurse, or a Bedside Leader?“, we recommend it. The author, Amy Constanzo, director of nursing administration at University of Cincinnati Medical Center, puts into eloquent words one of the central “unthought knowns” in the daily experience of many nurses. Constanzo writes:
“Despite the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report that calls for nurses to be ‘full partners, with physicians and other health professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States,’ the mental model of ‘just a nurse’ is still out there, inhibiting potential.”
But she’s not pessimistic. She believes “just a nurse” is a mental model like any other, and mental models can be changed—but only if you make it your quest to do so. Constanzo proposes an alternative mental model for nurses: “I am a nurse.” On the surface, it’s a simple statement, but it’s also, she believes, a statement of both strength and possibility:
“When you say ‘I am a nurse,’ you are claiming the values of nursing and your contribution to assisting patients in achieving their best level of health. To do so requires a clear vision of nursing as a profession and of nurses’ contribution to the health care team.”
How do you describe your work as a nurse—to yourself, and to others?