Examining the Nurse Manifesto: Identifying with the Past and Future

Now, seeking meaningful avenues for action, we choose to identify ourselves with the heritage and future of nurses. From nursing history we have learned the fullness of our own potential as nurses, the strength of nurses, the effect of nurses in communities and to individuals. We have seen our own common self interest, and common oppression. Having found these authentic bonds as nurses, we realize we can rely on each other as we seek conscience-based action to shape a new future for nursing and for health care (Cowling, Chinn, & Hagedorn, 2000, paragraph 4).

This is another excerpt form the Nurse Manifesto, a document that calls us as nurses to create avenues of change for the future of the profession. As I reflect upon this excerpt, and our identity as a profession. Where did we come from and where are we headed? How can history inform the future of our profession, and how is it we can come together to create meaningful change?

Nurses Honor the Past By Wearing Caps For A Day

In 2002, I wrote an article about the nursing shortage and how in some respects, the profession has created our oppressive cycle by not coming together to empower ourselves and take control of future and our practices (Clark, 2002). Perhaps reflective of the greater culture, we tend to enact lateral violence, and repeat actions that keep us divided over our differences versus united in the quest to provide the greatest healing opportunities for our patients. We see that our own oppression grows, as we widen the gaps between administration/ managers and practicing nurses, and the dominance of nurse educators over students. Focusing on our differences, creating small factions, failing to care for ourselves, not committing to being lifelong learners, and spreading ourselves thin all contribute to our professional oppression and keep us from focusing on our common goals.

I believe that we can each start right where we are at. The first step is caring for yourself that you may also better for care for others, patients and colleagues alike. Creating work environments of healing and caring is a common goal we can share and explore together on the local level. We can commit to creating a consciousness for change in nursing and healthcare.

As the over-arching professional organization, it would be wonderful if the American Nurses Association could begin to bring us together on a national level. It seems the state nursing associations on many levels are more likely to create local action, but they also need assistance in gaining participation and increasing membership numbers. In my small state of Maine at our statewide meeting last year a quorum was not established as there simply were not enough members present to meet that mark.

I imagine a professional world where each donate some of our time every year toward taking action on the local-statewide level, whether that is writing a letter to congressional representatives, or serving our larger communities, or perhaps sharing our expertise about the human experience. I have served on the local school board, where I helped to foster much-needed changes in the kitchen and the nutritional program, and now I serve on the early education advisory council in my town, where I share and learn about childhood development and teaching and evaluation skills. Churches are another great place to provide healing services and demonstrate your expertise as a nurse. Serving in communities helps us to unit with the community and our patients; this unification process can also foster change as we grow our partnerships and empower communities and individuals toward creating the healthcare system of the future.

One great way to come together is to join a specialty nurses association and attend their conference. I have found great comfort, support, and enthusiasm in the American Holistic Nurses Association; it is rejuvenating to leave the conference and begin to take action based on what was learned there. I have found that the AHNA has a great commitment to changing the future of the nursing profession, and empowering nurses on a meaningful manner.

Lastly, how do we empower the future nurses to realize the potential of our profession? They must understand the path that nursing has traveled, the change process, self-care, and their potential contribution to the unveiling of the new paradigm of healing in our future.

Nurses in the Future


Clark, C. S. (2002). The nursing shortage as a community transformational opportunity. Advances in Nursing Science, 25(1), 18-31.

Cowling, R., Chinn, P.L., & Hagedorn, S. (2000). The Nurse Manifesto.
Retrieved August 12, 2011 from

2 thoughts on “Examining the Nurse Manifesto: Identifying with the Past and Future

  1. What a wonderful collection of great suggestions, Carey! I especially like your mention of the importance of nursing organizations. As a NurseManifest group, we have deliberately chosen not to “organize” and we do recognize some of the limitations of organizations. But it is really only through working with others who have common interests that some of the things that need to happen can happen. So I totally “second” what you say here about how important this is. I just posted a blog on the ANS blog (http://ansjournalblog.com/) about the recent conference of INANE (International Academy of Nursing Editors). This is a group of editors and publishers who have lots of reasons not to get together and cooperate (publishing is by definition very competitive). But it was a GREAT conference with lots of sharing about common concerns and issues — one of the current ones being how to advance the goals of the “future of Nursing” report. I will post a bit more about this in the coming days.


  2. Peggy, I will be happy to read your blog about the IOM’s “Future of Nursing” report (which I have several issues with by the way, LOL, the first being that the future of nursing report is issued by the Institute of Medicine- where is the “Institute of Nursing’s” report?). The report also fails to address many of the professional problems we have within the profession (which I have of course written about elsewhere, and continue to write about here) and the report does not fully capture the essence of the kind of holistic nursing that many of us desire to practice. The report does an okay job of calling for advancement of the profession in the area of educational preparation (although the plan remains vague from what I read), but again, it lacks emphasis on the need for nurses’ self-reflection and competencies of self-care in order to create a sustainable-caring- healing practices. So, I guess I feel that we as a profession should consider carefully our future our own terms to prevent this being another means of oppression and external direction for the future of nursing. Uh, oh, I feel another article brewing in me.

    I also think with over one hundred nursing organizations, we really don’t need more organizations, but we do need to look at ways in which are organizations can be effective at facilitating change in the profession. I look forward to reading more about the INANE conference and what all of your brilliant minds came up with!


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