Oral Presentation The 26th International Nursing Philosophy Conference 2023

The Why and How of Nursing Active Involvement in Politics  (#58)

Favorite Iradukunda 1
  1. UMass Amherst Elaine Marieb College of Nursing, Amherst, MA, United States

The journey of nursing involvement in politics has been intertwined with questions about nursing identity. Throughout history, many nurses have felt confident taking on the identity of advocates, activists, leaders, and visionaries but not political agents. Whether intentionally or not, there’s been visible and invisible efforts to present nursing as apolitical. This stance has several reasons, such as the identity of powerlessness, which assumes that nurses have no power to influence those who seem to hold more power since nursing has been/remains oppressed. Another reason is the conviction that the only way nursing can accomplish its mission is to focus on direct patient care and only areas considered as directly linked to patient outcomes, such as education and research. But perhaps the most thought-provoking reason is the assumption that nursing itself is devoid of politics. Nursing leaders and organizations are rarely considered as wielding political power and influence. Yet, nurses represent the majority of healthcare workers in most countries. With this level of representation, it’s not unrealistic to expect an adequate representation of nurses in national and global politics. However, this expectation is often met with a different reality showcasing a severe underrepresentation of nurses/nursing in healthcare leadership and politics. This presentation will examine how the politics of being apolitical have contributed to this lack of representation, how nurses in different countries have challenged this stance and used their political power throughout history, why it’s imperative for nurses to recognize and use their political power and practical steps on how to achieve that.