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)

Jo Ann Ashley 1939-1980


# 2 “Inspiration for Activism”

  • Leading voice in nursing for 2nd wave feminism
  • Author of landmark book “Hospitals, Paternalism and the Role of the

    Jo Ann Ashley

    Nurse” uncovering the history of gender and class bias in healthcare

  • Advocate for nurses to claim the right to control our own practice, to demand safe working conditions, to practice to the full extent of our education, and to fight for economic justice.

More information:

Jo Ann Ashley papers, 1942-1980. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2018, from http://dla.library.upenn.edu/cocoon/dla/ead/ead.html?fq=donor_facet%3A%22Ashley%2C%20Jewell%22&id=EAD_upenn_bates_MC115&

Kagan, P. N. (2006). Jo Ann Ashley 30 years later: legacy for practice. Nursing Science Quarterly, 19(4), 317–327. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894318406293121

Wolf, K. (Ed.). (1997). Jo Ann Ashley: Selected Readings. Jones & Bartlett Learning. Retrieved from https://market.android.com/details?id=book-242diP_sDdkC

View Video

On September 2, 1976, WNED public television in Buffalo, New York, produced a segment as part of their “Woman” Series titled “New Image for Nurses: Part 1“. This episode featured a conversation with Jo Ann Ashley, Ph. D., June Rothberg, Ph.D.,  and Jean Spero, Ph.D.Dr. Ashley was an Associate Professor of Nursing at Northern Illinois University. She was also on the board of trustees of NCAP (Nurses Coalition for Action in Politics) at the time of the interview. Dr. Rothberg was Dean of the School of Nursing at Adelphi University. She was a co-founder of NCAP and the immediate past president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Dr. Spero was Dean of the School of Nursing at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She was Chair of the Board of Review of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs of the National League for Nursing.

The video portrays Jo Ann’s fiesty and courageous personality!  She was fearless in speaking the truth. The archive video is available here. 

Sociopolitical Knowing: Connecting with hearts, minds, guts, and groins


[Edited 8/6/16] At a time when many are celebrating the official nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton I am also acutely aware that many are not. While there are many valid concerns that have been raised, what troubles me most is to hear the contempt and disbelief that anyone could support Trump. It concerns me because it reflects a de-humanizing and de-valuing of many in the white working class.

We expect that our students and coworkers will be sensitive to the values and personal goals our patients and their families. We expect nurses to be non-judgemental towards patients who are living in poverty, suffering from addictions, or making decisions that do not seem based in upper-middle class norms and values. Can we also expect nurses to develop an understanding of how to be respectful and understand what is important to people with different political views. 

Sociopolitical Knowing is a core strength of professional nursing. Conceptualized by Jill White in 1995, sociopolitical knowing occurs on two levels:

1) the sociopolitical context of the persons (nurse and patient), and 2) the sociopolitical context of nursing as a practice profession, including both society’s understanding of nursing and nursing’s understanding of society and its politics. [emphasis added]

To start the dialogue, I am circling back to the Spiral Dynamics model that was used to organize the sociopolitical context of nursing in the published Results from the Nurse Manifest 2003 Study: Nurses’ Perspectives on Nursing.

Trump_&_Clinton.jpg

Basics principles of leadership and motivation according to Spiral Dynamics:

  1. identify the specific needs and capacities of individuals and groups, and
  2. calibrate the precise developmental messages that fit each unique situation.

Sociopolitical knowing requires an understanding of how to connect with and motivate people where they are. It means developing an understanding of what messages will be most effective in “pushing someone’s buttons” or eliciting a strong emotional response. The table below highlights the most prevalent value memes in modern society – defined through worldview, core values, and value-based reasons for violence and war. 

spiral dynamics.JPG

How Trump connects: From sexual innuendos and vulgar speech to stoking conspiracy theories and racist viewpoints, Trump often makes his connection with people’s minds, guts, and testicles. He has effectively tapped into pent-up frustrations and fears, justifying aggression and intolerance to make America “great again” (red and orange) and “safe again” (blue and green). 

How Clinton connects: From It Takes a Village to Hard Choices, Clinton has a long history of speaking to people’s hearts, minds, and ovaries. She has effectively tapped into national pride and hope, focusing on accomplishments that make America “great right now” (red and orange) and safer through unity and tolerance (blue and green). 

Both campaigns employ messaging that is strategically targeted at different audiences. The point of this blog entry was not to start a political debate — this is not the place for that. Rather, I am hoping to start a conversation about understanding how we might apply sociopolitical knowing to strengthen our ability to communicate with others. I hope that through application of sociopolitical knowing we can better connect with different communities about the work of nursing, and issues that impact the patient populations and communities we serve.

Please help build the dialogue around sociopolitical knowing, through comments here, and conversations with your coworkers, family, and friends. 

References for further reading:

Beck, D. E. Human Capacities in the Integral Age: How Value Systems Shape Organizational Productivity, National Prosperity and Global Transformation

Charen, M. What Hillbilly Elegy Reveals About Trump and America: A harrowing portrait of the plight of the white working class. National Review, July 28, 2016.

Harryman, W. Is Hillary Clinton the First Integral Politician? Integral Options Cafe, November 6, 2005.

Jarrín, O. F. Results from the Nurse Manifest 2003 Study: Nurses’ Perspectives on Nursing. Advances in Nursing Science, 29(2), E74-E85.

Pew Research Center. Few Clinton, Trump Supporters Have Close Friends on the Other Side. August 3, 2016.

Schwartzbach, S. M. Drowned: Nurses Under Water. The Nurse Sonja. July 27, 2016.

Vance, J. D. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. 2016; HarperCollins: New York, NY. 

White, J. Patterns of knowing: review, critique, and update. ANS Adv Nurs Sci. 1995 Jun;17(4):73-86.

AJN: A premier nursing journal


For many nurses, the American Journal of Nursing is a journal we were introduced to as a student, but for one reason or another it faded into the past with little notice.  But this ajn0315-cover-onlineis a nursing journal that has a remarkable history, since its founding by Sophia Palmer in 1900.  The early contributors to the journal were significant nursing leaders who played major roles in establishing nursing as we know it today.

Charlene Eldridge Wheeler conducted an analysis of the first 20 years of AJN that was published in ANS in 1985. Charlene’s abstract provides a succinct summary that reveals not only the importance of AJN in shaping nursing as a profession, as well as the significant connection that the Nurse Manifest project shares with the journal and the early leaders who wrote the early content:

The editorial position and content of each issue of the first 20 years of the American Journal of Nursing were explored in relation to the emergence of nursing as a profession. Themes identified reflect professional issues, socialization of nurses, and the influences between other major social/political movements. The evidence of the study reveals strong nursing leadership toward (1) legitimatizing nursing as a self-controlled profession and (2) generating reform in nursing and society at large. The evidence of this study contradicts many prevalent popular views about the history of nursing.

But fast-forward to today – this historically significant journal is well worth noticing, and noting the connections that persist with the values that we speak to on this NurseManifest blog.   In the March 2015 issue, Editor Shawn Kennedy writes about the significance of the March Women’s History Month, and the importance of nurse leaders throughout history, women who are largely unknown and unacknowledged but whose accomplishments were ground-breaking.. You can see Shawn’s Editorial, and follow the journal on the AJN blog – Off the Charts.

The March issue, like all of the recent issues, contains several articles that connect in spirit to our NurseManifest project –

  • “Perspectives on leadership: Conflict Engagement: A New Model for Nurses” that launches a series of future articles on leadership.
  • “Advancing Health through Nursing: Progress of the Campaign for Action” that continues a series of articles that provide an update on the impact of the IOM 2010 report on the future of nursing.
  • A report on moral distress in nursing
  • A “Reflections” column that is published in most issues of the journal, that shares reflective stories of nurses’ experience in practice.  The March column is titled “Am I Going to Be OK? Keeping the Trust of Patients at Critical Moments.”
  • An “Art of Nursing” column that appears in most issues.  The March column is a poem relating a tragic experience in an emergency department waiting room.

You can see the entire table of contents, and at least view abstracts on the AJN web site.  If you have not seen AJN lately, I highly recommend taking another look, and follow Off the Charts!

Historic Wilma Scott Heide eBooks now available!


Wilma Scott Heide

Wilma Scott Heide

Two books of major significance to the modern women’s movement are now available as eBooks – “Feminism for the Health of It” by Wilma Scott Heide, and “A Feminist Legacy: The Ethics of Willma Scott Heide and Company” by Eleanor Humes Haney.

Wilma Scott Heide was bom on February 26, 1921 and died on May 8, 1985 of a heart attack. One of the most respected of feminist/human rights scholars/activists in the world, Dr. Heide was a nurse, sociologist, writer, activist and lecturer. During her lifetime she actively demonstrated intellectual force, caring and commitment in articulating the women’s movement imperatives for society. She served as visiting professor and scholar at several universities, consultant to various state education associations and innumerable colleges, churches and many branches of the government, education and social organizations. In 1984 Wilma described herself as: Behavioral Scientist at American Institutes for Research; Human Relations Commissioner in Pennsylvania; Chairone of Board and President of NOW (1970-1974); Professor of Women’s studies and Public Affairs at Sangamon State (would-be) University in Illinois; Feminist and Humorist-at-Large

These two books were originally published in 1985 by MargaretDaughters, a small independent feminist publishing company founded by Charlene Eldridge Wheeler and Peggy Chinn.  They named their company after their mothers, both of whom were “Margaret.”  They met Wilma on the occasion of an International Women’s Day celebration Heide-Coverin Buffalo, New York where Wilma was featured as a guest speaker.  Her dissertation, titled “Feminism for the Health of It” had never been published in book format, and the eager Margaretdaughters publishers were thrilled to have the opportunity to bring this important work into book form.  Shortly after, they connected with Ellie Haney, who had been planning a biography of Wilma’s life that highlighted the amazing and inspiring feminist philosophy that grounded Wilma’s work.

Wilma challenged the patriarchal status quo with an inimitable humor, keen intellect, and a steadfast feminist commitment.  She was the third President of NOW, during which she actively led the organization to turn away from the homophobic “lavender menace” Legacy-Cover2messages of the earliest years of the organization.  She led a number of actions of civil disobedience, several of which contributed significantly to moving the Equal Rights Amendment out of committee and into the nation-wide U.S. constitutional review process.  She insisted that newspapers cease segregating the “help wanted’ columns by “male” and “female” – a change that is possibly one of the most influential in expanding economic opportunity for women.

Even though she did not practice nursing for most of her career, she never waivered in her identity as a nurse and her commitment to the deepest values of nursing that are today reflected in the Nursing Manifesto – caring, the right of all people to a high level of health and wellness, the essential element of peace in realizing health for all, and the imperatives of consciousness and action to bring about real change.

There are elements in both books that may seem limited or inadequate given the perspectives we have today, but both remain significant and current not only for their historic value, but for the light they shed on today’s persistent political and social challenges for women, for nursing, and for health care.  I am thrilled to have brought these works forward into the present in accessible, affordable formats!  I hope you will visit your preferred eBook provider now and consider making them part of your library!