Brenda Kucirka (1961 – )


Inspiration for Activism Part II –

  • Tireless Advocate for marginalized and vulnerable populations in the Chester PA community; Assistant Professor at Widener University, Chester PA (see Widener Magazine 2016 — Vol. 26, No. 1)
  • Nurse educator and Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist with a passion for social justice and decreasing stigma and oppression. I strive to educate nurses who embrace the role of change agent and advocate willing to step into the space between call and response with eyes and ear wide open.
  • Recipient of the Widener University 2018 Civic Engagement Award
  • Trained as an Inside Out Instructor in 2015
  • Teaches a Social Justice and Advocacy Inside Out Prison Exchange Course at SCI Chester, a medium security prison in Chester, PA. (see photo below of the the outside student cohort from the Widener University School of Nursing Fall 2018 Social Justice & Advocacy Inside Out Prison Exchange Course – used by permission)
  • Advocated for college credits to be awarded to incarcerated individuals enrolled in the Inside Out Prison Exchange course.
  • Originally a community-based service learning course, The Advocacy and Social Justice service learning course was redesigned as an Inside Out Prison Exchange Course in 2017. The course has been recognized as a high impact teaching practice that has was presented at the NLN Summit in 2018.

MY STORY

I have always been drawn to those who are misunderstood, misrepresented and stigmatized. I find my calling to be one of bearing witness, stepping into the spaces and places that society finds unacceptable or unworthy. I am always inspired by and grateful to those who share their stories with me.

My activism has grown out of a deep concern for issues of social justice and a desire to support marginalized populations in Chester PA by confronting injustice and health disparities. I am moved by the power of one’s narrative & seek to provide a venue for validating and valuing the voice of vulnerable and marginalized populations. My work in the community and with students has been focused on facilitating the development of self-compassion and self-empowerment

My work focuses on social justice as a fundamental human right that is central to nursing and the core values of nursing. It has been my privilege to be in a position in which I have earned the respect of students, colleagues and my community through my work in the area of social justice. I strive to inspire those I encounter to find their voice and to use their voice to advocate for self and others. I believe the work I am doing will have a ripple effect as students enter the profession with a sense of compassion for self and others as well as the intention to seek social justice for those they care for and their communities.

VOLUNTEERISM AND CIVIC ENGAGMENT:

  • Volunteers at Threshold of Delaware County teaching decision making skills to incarcerated individuals
  • Volunteers at City Team Ministries in Chester PA providing staff supervision and group psychotherapy and psychoeducation for men in the Rescue and Recovery Program
  • Volunteers at the State Correctional Institute in Chester PA facilitating mental health and wellness seminars for men in the Transitional Housing Unit as well as those serving juvenile life sentences and life sentences.
  • Advisory Board member for Providence House, a Clubhouse providing psychosocial rehabilitation in the community. Established a partnership with the Widener School of Nursing and Providence House to provide psychoeducation and an annual health and wellness fair for clubhouse members.
  • Serves on the City of Chester’s Reentry Committee

The outside student cohort from the Widener University School of Nursing Fall 2018 Social Justice & Advocacy Inside Out Prison Exchange Course.

 

Nicky Lambert (1973 – )


Inspiration for Activism Part II –

My name is Nicky and I’m a mental health health nurse living in London. I’ve been a nurse for 20 years and I now teach the next generations as an Associate Professor. I have nursing to thank for helping me find my voice. If it wasn’t for the mentoring and guidance I received from the nurses who encouraged and supported me I wouldn’t be in a position to give back to others now.

My activism is mainly situated around supporting women’s mental and physical well-being. I use my nursing skills to do that in a number of ways. I initially went down the traditional routes of service development, policy writing etc. and though I still use the research and writing skills I learned as a nurse to bring focus to under-served populations and to make the great work of others as accessible as possible; I have experiences from my own work that I can use to encourage good practice.

However a real turning point for me was when I was quoted at a conference talking about nursing and politics on twitter and realized how scared I was that I’d done something wrong by speaking up. I had somehow come to believe that being neutral is a sign of professionalism – certainly there are expectations of compassion and good sense for all nurses but it’s not wrong to say what you think. Nursing gives us privileged access to parts of society that mean our perspectives and opinions are not only valid but helpful to finding ways forward. I think we have a moral duty to be active in the ways that we can, to promote healthy societies.

I use my experience as a nurse to raise understanding of women’s health needs including working with a number of organizations to launch a Period Dignity campaign. I’m also lucky to be working with some amazing nurse specialists to create a topic guide for menopause and mental health.

Like all nurses I have skills in organization, risk assessment and communication – I use them to help people with extra needs (commonly physical and mental health issues) to participate in society via protest marches and community art projects. This year 4 UK cities saw #Processions2018 a celebration of the first women getting the vote in Britain (see more information here).

Most recently I was thrilled and very, very proud when working on the 50:50 Parliament campaign (it’s a cross-party initiative to achieve an inclusive, gender-balanced parliament) to see nursing friends who I didn’t know were interested coming forward to stand. These are activities which whilst not directly nursing, do what nursing does by enriching and strengthening people to live the best lives they can.

Nurses don’t always think about the skills and gifts they have as valuable but they have never been more needed. I’ve been a trustee for a women’s center near my flat for a few years now and my nursing experience has enabled me to contribute usefully. One of the ways that I help as a nurse, is by supporting a ‘ground-up health’ initiative by women who organize health information sessions and develop a health calendar translated in to the languages common within their area. It’s really fulfilling to see people get the confidence to source the knowledge they want and give it to others in a useful format as a gift.

I had the privilege of meeting nurse activist colleagues at the Nurse Activism Think Tank this year and it made me think about my responsibility to be more open about my nursing work in this area. The community and fellowship I found there helped me to be a bit bolder in doing it!

I will do my best to get to the next one – see the information here!

Peace, and nurse power for the holidays!


As the lead blogger for the NurseManifest project, I wish all of our followers peace and power for the holidays!  We are taking a holiday break from our weekly blog schedule featuring inspirations for activism, but we will return no later than January 8th!   We are looking forward to a new year with growing nursing activism both large and small! The very existence of our “Inspiration for Activism” blog series is in itself a manifestation of nursing activism. Just to browse through both the Part I and the growing Part II galleries provides a landscape of the breadth and depth of influence that nurses have had, and continue to have, in relation to health and well-being!

If you have not yet shared your story of nurse activism, we want to hear from you!  We have a handy form that you can use to start the process!  Fill out what you can on the form, and we will work with you to add you and your activism to this very important record!  If you need inspiration, browse our Part II and Part I “inspiration” galleries!

Here’s to 2019 Nurse Manifesting!  Peggy

A tribute to Virginia (Ginny) Ward Paulsen (1918-August 9, 1982)


Contributed by Rorry Zahourek

Ginny Paulsen was not a nurse by profession but by heart and dedication. She served as the Executive Director of the Colorado Nurses Association from 1961-1980. In that role she inspired many to become activists on numerous fronts (clinical and political). At that time in Colorado the nurse practitioner was born and clinical specialists programs were producing new and motivated practitioners. She supported a group of nurses at Denver General Hospital to organize and demand a job description and commensurate salary for Clinical Nurse Specialists. In the 1970’s Ginny supported a group of nurses to go into private practice by providing moral support, business advice and legal consultation. Later she helped the group writing a book that described the process of setting up one of the first primary nurse clinics in the country.

She was a realistic idealist. She believed in the goodness of humanity and that we as nurses and humans could forge new roles, advance the profession, health care and change the system as a whole.

She always had good advice regarding negotiating systems and was always available for consultation when we met obstacles. She was a fierce and intelligent nurse advocate who mentored many in expanding their scope of practice and securing the legislation needed to support those advances.  She developed and hired one of the first nurse lobbyist at the State capitol in the country. (See picture of Ginny with with the first nurse lobbyist, Sue Sawyer).

Ginny also started a major international educational conference (Chautauqua) to promote discussion of issues and foster activism. This conference continues today. She birthed the idea of having risk taking workshops. These fostered activism for expanding nurses’ roles, practice and changing systems. The result of one of those workshops was the formation of Nurses for Political Action Colorado. This group provided forums for candidates to present their views and discuss issues related to overall health care and nursing.

Her premature death was and is a loss. I’m sure she would be supporting this nurse activist group and would be pleased to see how many members it has that are committed to making changes for nursing and for all to have adequate health care.

Ginny on the left with Sue Sawyer (right)

Reminder – Civility Project Survey


Reminder!  Piri, Louisa, and I are conducting a study to learn more about experiences with incivility in nursing learning environments, as well as to identify strategies for promoting a culture of civility. We are still accepting responses, and hope to hear from you before the end of the year!

Please click here to learn more about who we are, how this study developed, and why we decided to pursue this topic.

We hope you will take 10-15 minutes to complete a 9-question survey, share your insights, and help nurses and future nurses learn in a culture of civility. This study is open to all nurses. You get to decide if you want to answer as a student or a faculty member. You don’t have to be either right now, just think back to when you were last in the classroom or clinical learning environment.

Click here to begin the survey.

Thank you, in advance, for helping nurses learn and grow, with a goal of making learning environments welcoming and respectful for all.