Nurses to Obama: “Don’t Love Us – Just Put Us at the Table”

By Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, AJN interim editor-in-chief

At the AJN Conference: left to right, Diana Mason, Amanda Stefancyk, Catherine Drous, Teresa Pavone

At the AJN Conference: left to right, Diana Mason, Amanda Stefancyk, Catherine Drous, Teresa Pavone

Speaking Sunday night at the first AJN Conference in Chicago, Diana Mason, AJN’s editor-in-chief emeritus, told the audience about her recent visit to the West Wing of the White House. If you watched the news that week you may have seen President Obama’s declaration to a crowd of nurses: “I love nurses.”

Mason told the conference that she was disappointed in the remark because “that’s not what nurses need.”  Nurses need to be respected for what they  know and for what they do, and then they need to be given a seat at the policy table when strategies for changing the health care system are being discussed.

Right now, she said, “no one is paying attention to the nurse-led models of care that work.” These include  the American Academy of Nursing’s Raise the Voice Campaign; the AARP/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Champion Nursing in America; the Initiative on the Future of Nursing; and Transforming Care at the Bedside (TCAB), the collaborative initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Healthcare Improvement.

On Monday, Mason moderated a panel of nurses (pictured in the above photo) who are driving change and solving health care delivery problems on their hospital units. (For example, Amanda Stefancyk, shown second from left, has written a collection of articles for AJN about using TCAB.) Mason was right—nurses do have the answers. These bright women made significant differences in quality of care and patient and nurse satisfaction scores.

I was wondering, after listening to all the presentations, why is it that nurses’ opinions aren’t being sought? Why is it that hospitals are quick to spend a gazillion dollars on unproven technology but drag their feet on evidence-based changes (like appropriate nurse staffing)? Are we still so invisible that we’re just an afterthought?

Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. Nurses as Cheerleaders? « Off the Charts November 4, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    […] Nurses to Obama: ‘Don’t Love Us — Just Put Us at the Table.’ […]

  2. Faye Daly October 29, 2009 at 9:07 am

    I totally agree about the “I love nurses”comment! Thank you for bringing up the need for us to be heard as advocates for those who need our care!!!
    We do have good input on these topics of Healthcare!Keep up the good work!

  3. jeannie October 11, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Sadly, I think that since females remain the dominate gender in the profession that there is still an imbalance of power. I believe that nurses need to stand up more forcibly to inadequate hospital and legislative policies. There needs to be a united front and we must voice our concerns publicly and be willing to hold a firm line to authority, even if it means going against the grain.

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