Robin Cogan in the news – #NoMoreEmptyDesks


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)

An Open Letter on the vital importance of empathy in STEM


Nursing Activism Think Tank participant Rachel Walker just shared this information about a letter-writing campaign that many who follow this blog might want to see!  Here is her message:

UMASS professors Dr. Sarah Perry, Dr. Sandra Petersen and I have recently penned an open letter on the vital importance of empathy in STEM. Our letter is addressed to the task force currently writing the next 5-year Federal Strategic Plan for STEM education.

You can read our letter here

And if you wish, add your signature as well:

(And please note, this letter is an exercise in academic freedom. We are proposing our views, not an official position of the University.)

Marion Cronin, 1920 –


Inspiration for Activism

  • The heart of the documentary “Playing on Our Sentiments” the story of the Hale Nurses Union organized in 1954 in Massachusetts.

    Marion Cronin

  • Graduated from Lawrence Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in 1941
  • Began her career as a nurse at the Contagious Hospital, next door to the Hale
  • Active in the Massachusetts Nurses Association by 1950
  • Worked for a law that gave nurses the right to collective bargaining, and once that law passed, worked with other nurses at the Hale to form an MNA bargaining unit then elected to be their leader (chairperson).
  • At 98, continues to support the struggles of nurses everywhere for good contracts.

More information

Carolyn McCarthy (1944 – )


Inspiration for Activism

  • Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 4th district. In office Carolyn_McCarthy_2012_portraitJanuary 3, 1997 – January 3, 2015.
  • Tireless advocate for gun control
  • Pursued legislation benefiting the elderly, including hearing loss detection, prevention & treatment, pushing for affordable hearing devices for all.
  • Fought for special education and health services for children
  • Always stated in interviews: “I am a nurse and I look at the issues from a nursing perspective.

More information

See the recent policy statement on gun violence from the American Academy of Nursing