I came to nursing through activism, rather than the other way around. For fifteen years before I went to nursing school, I organized and agitated in my communities around issues related to reproductive choice and health. Becoming a nurse was the way to bring my passion for care work and my passion for reproductive justice together. Now I work at the bedside in labor & delivery/postpartum care as well as in abortion services. In addition, I hold an appointment as a Five College Associate, which supports me in researching, writing, and speaking about the history of nursing and medicine. Right now I am investigating the historical development of the cultural competency model in nursing and nursing education, with the goal of moving us as a field toward structural competency without reproducing the problems of earlier models.
I became interested in healthcare policy and politics, during my MSN studies, but it wasn’t until I was asked to serve as American Nurses Association- Maine’s legislative committee chair that I begin to recognize my true calling in this area. ANA-ME encouraged me to apply to be an American Nurse Advocacy Institute Fellow, and upon completion of that training, I felt better prepared to act and advocate for causes I believed in.
I felt very drawn to the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) as I learned about the endocannabinoid system and medicinal use of cannabis. The more I understood about the human ECS, the more I felt called to serve at a higher level. I was appointed to be on the board and I started the education and research committee and eventually I ran for President. We are a non-profit 501c3, and we focus on educating and supporting nurses, as well as acting as advocated for patients and populations.
I have been blessed to be able to also bring ACNA into the Nursing Organizations Alliance, where I have learned so much about what it takes to run a nursing organization. Anyone actively involved in working with nursing organizations should consider how this group can support your organization’s knowledge base.
In my own personal work, I have focused on supporting oncology nurses’ understanding of medicinal use of cannabis. For the last 1.5 years I have traveled around the country working with oncology nurses to support their understanding of how they can best help their patients who want to use cannabis for palliation of symptoms. This article in this Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing also serves to support the knowledge base of nurses. Also see my NurseManifest post on this topic!
Advocate for enabling well-being and creating cultures of health
Author of Receive So You May Give: A Self-Care Path for Nurses
Psychiatric nurse for 25 years
Voice for suicide prevention and de-stigmatizing mental health.
Completed the Out of the Darkness Walk in Boston. Have partnered with a dean in Boston to teach emotional well-being to nursing students
Advocate for universal sabbaticals in healthcare
Completed the Integrative Health and Lifestyle Program for healthcare professionals at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, founded by Dr. Andrew Weil and developed a 12-week resilience workshop for nurses
-Focused on providing broader and deeper forms of clinician education and resilience training (not clinical or technical) to healthcare professionals so that together we thrive, serve and lead at our highest levels
Certified to teach Dr. Lissa Rankin’s Mind Over Medicine workshops. Trained as a Martha Beck life coach
Co-organized Thrive: Inspiring Positive Change; a community well-being initiative and creative health symposium in Maine
Currently a Community Resilience Facilitator for a 2-year project providing ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) training to the general public and professional groups
My activism began in college as I was part of the anti-war protests of the late 60’s and early 1970s.
In between the time I was hired for my first nursing position and the time I began employment, we became part of a collective bargaining unit. From this, I learned the value of collective action around a common cause.
As was common among baccalaureate graduates in the 70s, I was promoted to management within a year. In that role, I learned what advocacy meant, how to resolve conflict, and how to exercise the power of the nursing voice.
In 1985, I became President of the Connecticut Nurses Association and was faced with a public health nightmare…we had no advanced practice statute and the Attorney General was going to stop nurse practitioners from prescribing vaccinations, contraception, and doing childhood physicals. The work began to establish the needed definitions and create the laws to permit the role of the advanced practice nurse. The final language was a compromise, but it was a start.
For the past 40 years, my activism has been in response to a need whether it be establishing an accelerated program for non-nurse college graduates, a PhD program for advancement of the discipline and its knowledge, funding for education, or teaching administrators to be business wise and nurse conscious.