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Training in Abortion Care Residency

 

By June 2021 there were already 561 abortion restrictions filed, of which 165 were abortion bans. These restrictions spanned over 47 states (Guttmacher). A few short months later, SB-8 went into effect in Texas. This onslaught against reproductive access and freedom in combination with the COVID-19 pandemic’s exacerbation of nursing exploitation has created a unique set of circumstances for nurses who are motivated to turn their politics into action. NSRH’s Training in Abortion Care Residency (TAC) is a concrete opportunity for registered nurses to re-imagine their nursing career, and gain experience in a sector that provides an alignment of our values with our work. 

The othering of abortion care as separate from reproductive healthcare and healthcare more generally has lasting and insidious ways of impacting both individuals and the systems that we trust with care provision. We as nurses are not taught about the medical process of abortion care and may only rely on high level (potential misinformation). We are doing an active harm to our patients when we pass on that misinformation (thinking about referring to CPC’s here). And a harm was done to us in not receiving comprehensive, medically accurate sexual and reproductive health education in our nursing programs. 

NSRH knows that this othering of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health is ubiquitous both in nursing school and throughout the profession. It is our commitment to interrupt, fill the gaps and advocate for comprehensive SRH in all sectors of nursing. NSRH is working to address the lack of education directly at the source through our Student Organizing, and building the next generation of nurse leaders through the Karen Edlund Future Nurse Leader Fellowship.

However, we know that this othering and lack of education surrounding SRH, especially abortion care, continues within the professional nursing sector. Our inaugural TAC Residency is another part of NSRH’s commitment to providing professional development opportunities for nurses in SRH. This residency program provides hands-on clinical abortion care training to registered nurses as well has monthly individual and group learning around the broader intricacies of abortion care. Similar to how a multi-pronged approach is needed to achieving health in our patients, a multi-pronged approach to normalizing sexual and reproductive health, specifically abortion care is needed in nursing. The TAC residency is a critical piece of that puzzle. NSRH recently completed first of its kind research documenting the severe lack of training opportunities for nurses in abortion care. Our research found that there are limited training opportunities for advanced practice clinicians (APC’s), but that the TAC Residency is the only clinical abortion training program for registered nurses in the US. NSRH stands in our commitment to developing necessary, creative, evidence-based programs and education that address and normalize abortion care. Applications to the TAC Residency are now open for RN’s in Tennessee and Kentucky and the program will launch in March 2022!

Team Member Spotlight: Lily's Time with NSRH

 

I joined NSRH in the early Spring of 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to take hold, excited about the opportunity to contribute to a small but mighty team of folks who shared my passions for reproductive health, rights, and justice. I thought I’d work throughout the summer and leave NSRH when I began my Master of Public Health program at Boston University that fall. Now, nearly two years later, I have finished my Master’s degree and I am saying farewell to NSRH as I begin my next journey. 


I’ve been honored to be part of the NSRH network and to have seen all the ways our community has grown together. Since I joined, we’ve fully launched our Membership Program, grown the Online Institute, began our inaugural cohort of Karen Edlund Fellows, and revamped and relaunched our Training in Abortion Care Residency. I am so proud of all we have accomplished and can’t wait to see what’s in store for NSRH in the future. I am confident you all will continue to do innovative, important work that centers the needs of our community and prioritizes equity and justice. 


It’s been such a pleasure and a privilege to work with our community of disruptive nurses. I have loved interacting with all of you, uplifting your voices on social media, and learning from the incredible work you do every day to make compassionate, comprehensive SRH care accessible for your communities.


It’s bittersweet for me to leave NSRH; I have enjoyed my time here and have learned so much from each and every one of you. The passion for reproductive rights, health, and justice that brought me to NSRH in the first place has grown exponentially stronger since I joined the team in 2020. Though I am sad to leave, I am excited about what’s to come. I won't be straying too far from NSRH’s mission in this next stage of my SRH journey - I’ll be joining a program working to increase equitable access to contraception through, among other things, provider education. I hope to cross paths with many of you in this role and anywhere else my career takes me. It would bring me so much joy to be in community with you again one day in the future.


With love and gratitude for all that you do,

Lily Acton

Get to know Our Fellows Series: Leslie Chase (Pt. II)

Part II of our Fellow Series with Leslie Chase brings our focus to her work, some specifics on her project, and be sure to look out on the NSRH Social Hub App (on google play and the App Store) for ways to support her fundraiser to assist with supporting the necessary work Leslie discusses below.

NSRH: How did you recognize the need for this service, and how did you center those most impacted in the development of this project? 


Leslie Chase: Through my work with Planned Parenthood, we initiated gender-affirming hormone therapy at our affiliate. With that came the search for many different resources in all of our regions for that population of patients that we were starting to serve. I was involved in that search. In that search, we created a relationship with the Transgender Health and Wellness Center, and actually, my work with them pointed out this specific need. A lot of their clients were sex workers who needed services. So that's how I identified this specific population. I think my work in my master's program when I was working on SRH and looking into that worldwide. It's just something that kept coming up. This need existed. 

NSRH: What are some of the biggest misconceptions you hear within the nursing and health profession related to people who engage in sex work/bodywork? 

Leslie Chase: Unfortunately, I see a lot of evidence of stigma in general, especially around sex. there's a lot of assumption that people who engage in sex work or bodywork are irresponsible or don't care about their own health, or they somehow deserve any adverse health outcomes because of the "risk associated with their work." There's a lot of that kind of language, and that somehow it's our place as nurses or providers to judge them instead of caring for them. It's pretty heavily laden with stigma. I see that a lot, especially from other students who maybe have only worked in primary health care settings or urgent care settings. Another assumption is assuming that every sex worker does not want to be in sex work. Like in any other job, some find it to be empowering, or they see it as their job, or some don't want to be in it. I think that it's essential not to assume that every person who engages in sex work does or does not want to be in sex work.

Another thing is it's important to reinforce to some of my colleagues that sex work is work, full stop. I think people forget that. Just like any other patient, they're deserving of our non-judgemental care and respect, and it's our job to deconstruct our stigma around it. 

 NSRH: What frameworks or education models do you think would be helpful in classrooms for people becoming health professionals who may work with patients engaging in sex work?

Leslie Chase: I think harm reduction is beneficial. Substance use disorder and sex work often overlap, so I think that's an excellent way to frame it. I believe that the harm reduction model applies to how we approach youths to engage in what we've labeled as "risky behaviors." I also try to view all my work through a health equity framework. That's been helpful in just removing yourself from any personal or moral judgment or attachment, and doing it through health equity or reproductive justice framework is powerful as well. 

NSRH: What are the most significant barriers to care you see through your work with sex workers? Has the pandemic illuminated this?

 Leslie Chase: In our initial survey, many folks mentioned that they need help getting connected to services in mental health specifically. Even if they can get connected to a therapist or someone similar, a lot of that service still comes to judgment and stigma. I think a huge barrier to them is accessing non-judgmental services. There's a specific request for, "how can I get services from providers who have had experience with sex workers, who are sex workers themselves, or did do sex work previously?" So that they can not only relate better to specific challenges or experiences of sex workers but also ensure that they were not getting care. A considerable barrier is not knowing if it's safe to divulge your activity in sex work to whatever provider you're going to get care of. It's a huge barrier. 

Through the pandemic, there's a lot of language about irresponsible people, not wearing masks, not social distancing, and things like that. This population is being forgotten. We're calling other professions that have had to continue to work through the pandemic heroes but giving very little understanding to people who do sex work and have to continue to live through the pandemic. They have no other choice. The population is being disproportionately judged, stigmatized, and left behind because of the stigma around sex and sex work during the pandemic. 

* Leslie's virtual fundraiser to build and issue out these essential care kits is set for 11/13/2021! More details to come on how to support this amazing project!

1:1 with UPenn Chapter Student Leader Tara Tiepel

 

October Student Leader Spotlight: Tara Teipel

Our Student Engagement Coordinator, Rosie Laine, recently sat down with one of our NSRH Student Chapter Presidents, Tara Teipel. Tara (she/her) is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a BSN at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing. U Penn’s student chapter has over 100 members, and they continue to be leaders in SRH student activism. Tara sat down with us to discuss her experiences as a nursing student and chapter president. 


Tell us about what brought you to nursing, and more specifically to your interest in sexual and reproductive healthcare and advocacy? 


I always knew I wanted to do something in the sciences. My mom, dad, and both of my older sisters do something in the sciences. They mainly focus on engineering, but when I found out about all the different roles that nurses get to do, I realized that was the perfect balance of learning all about the human body but still working face to face with people and having that close and immediate change. Since then, everything I’ve learned about nursing has made me love it even more. I got into sexual and reproductive health because, at my school, we teach a lot of sex ed through a program called Teen Prevention Education Program or Teen PEP. As a junior, I was selected to teach a special health class to become an expert in safe sex, healthy relationships, gender identity, and leadership. Once a month, we would go into freshman health classes. We would do skits and write songs, and it was supposed to be a way to make the freshman pay attention more than they would if they were reading it out of a textbook or hearing it from their health teacher. That made me realize how many questions there were and how there wasn’t a lot of education. These issues are often pushed aside for later on. When I came to Penn, on the first day of orientation, they had the NSRH Chapter table, and through that, I’ve learned more about SRH. And I’ve learned more about it through my classes. Through those experiences, I’m pretty sure that's what I want to do. 


What brought you to your involvement with NSRH? 


I realized that coming onto campus, the whole world of nursing was wide open, and I felt comfortable talking about SRH issues after my experience with Teen PEP.  I realized not many people had that same sense of comfort, so I decided to join the club after seeing it at the student organization fair. I decided to take on a leadership role because I felt that I wanted to be more involved in decision-making and be more hands-on with the projects that they were doing, and the meetings and events that they were holding. Our previous chapter president (who is now an NSRH National executive board member), along with the whole student chapter board, graduated, so I became president after that. Before I joined it was very focused on accelerated nursing students who had only been at Penn for about two years, so they had even higher turnover than a typical college club. Now we have a whole new board and a new advisor, so it’s been a big transitional year. 


Tell us about what it’s like to lead a student chapter? What advice would you give to students interested in starting or joining an NSRH student chapter? 


It’s definitely a lot of time management because you also have classes. It’s a lot of scheduling times and creating boundaries between schoolwork and organizing. A lot of people at my school are involved in multiple organizations. Also, it’s important to have time to relax, so it’s important to have those boundaries for yourself and respect other people. When I first became the only returning board member, I felt like I had to do everything. We ended up making new positions for the board and delegating tasks. Before, I would try to do everything and then ask the rest of the board, “let me know if anyone can do this?” But when we made roles for the board members, everyone was so happy to do their part. I think delegating is hard for some people to let go of control, but then everyone has more time to do the things they're the best at, and you’ll see more progress. I learned a lot, and since then, it’s been way easier to manage. 


What sustains your work and activism? What drives you to continue showing up?


Creating communities within the academic organization helps to prevent burnout. Instead of having all of our meetings focused on speakers, and learning workshops, and so on (although those are all super interesting and teach us lessons we may not have gotten out of school), we take the beginning part of the meeting to go around and check in with everyone and learn everyone’s names. It’s a great way to 1) get to know other people who are interested in the same things that you are, and 2) to keep you engaged in a way that isn’t just strictly education-based. 



What are some of the events or speakers that you’ve been most excited about or most proud of? How did you approach student organizing during the pandemic?

Because of the pandemic, we’ve been limited to virtual organizing and events, but we organized one really cool event in collaboration with multiple organizations in the nursing school. There's a film called Belly of the Beast, which is about forced sterilizations with women in prison. I think it’s hard to make virtual events engaging. Movies and documentaries are a great asset, but then people are on zoom for three-plus hours. So we gave an access code that everyone could use to watch the documentary on their own time. Which, for me, felt like an interesting break from my study time. I got to watch an interesting movie about a topic that I didn’t know much on. Then for our actual event, we had a few speakers on Zoom. We probably wouldn't have been able to get them in person. So that event was flexible but still synchronous. 


Are there events or speakers you have in mind, or general advocacy goals, you have for the upcoming year?

Yes. I definitely want to make the Papaya Aspiration Workshop happen because I haven’t gotten to participate in that kind of event yet. I think it’s a great hands-on experience. Also, at Penn, there’s a minor called Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. It’s through the college, not the nursing school, but after talking to the head of the department, she said she’d seen a huge surge of nursing students looking to get this minor. So we’re going to bring her in and do event detailing and provide class recommendations not limited to the nursing school that would allow nursing students to explore sexuality, queer theory, and gender. So I’m excited about that. 


Do you have tips or thoughts for students interested in starting a chapter, but it’s not yet established, so they need to focus on recruitment? Do you have advice on how to recruit new students?


When I joined as a freshman, the club was pretty well established. Still, because our core cohort of accelerated nursing students graduated and with covid, we now have a whole new group of student participants and leaders. I just finished my sophomore year, and half our board includes first-year students. I had taken my maternity class this past semester, and I reached out to our professor, who is also the head of the Center for Global Women’s Health. She’s super involved and taught the maternity class in an LGBTQ+ friendly lens, which is very new, especially in a field where it’s very gender-biased. She was a huge asset not just in knowledge and collaborating with the Center for Global Women’s Health, but also because she offered extra credit for students to come and attend our events. Afterward, we would send an email to them, asking them to join our newsletter.  That all really helped, because every student has her eventually, and her classes are so related to the topics we cover. She’s been a great asset. I would say if students are starting a new club, they should reach out to a professor who agrees with a lot of the content. That’s a great method to get new students involved. 


Can you share the best ways to select a faculty advisor?


Similar content to the classes is ideal. A lot of our events coincided with what we were learning in classes. That helped students and made it easy for our faculty advisor to plug our events in class. Besides that, reachability is very important, especially when you’re starting a new club. I knew we needed a very hands-on faculty advisor that would be able to attend a lot of our board meetings and respond to our emails. So that’s been super helpful. Maybe a more established club could have a more laissez-faire advisor, but we needed all the help we could get. Also, we’re so lucky that our faculty advisor has so many connections in the field. She knows speakers at other universities that have come in via zoom. That’s one of the pros of Zoom; you’re able to meet with so many different people that may not have been able to come in person. Those connections helped us a lot. 

Our value this month is Integrity. How do you think about integrity in relation to nursing, specifically within sexual and reproductive healthcare? 

All healthcare has sensitive information, and it’s essential to keep patients’ privacy and be there for them. I think within sexual and reproductive health, it’s especially that way. Many patients may come to you with huge insecurities or big secrets that even their friends and family may not know about them. Nursing is known as the world’s most trusted profession, so I think it’s important to uphold that and to keep your patients’ priorities as high as your own. 


 

What is your favorite fall activity? 

This is so niche, but I like cooking pumpkin seeds. I love carving the pumpkin and cooking the seeds. That’s what makes me think of fall. 


What is your favorite school supply for back-to-school shopping? 

I think I need colored pens. I just think they logistically help make notes stand out, but they’re also just fun. 


Interested in joining NSRH National as a free student member? Apply today! Interested in starting an NSRH Student Chapter on your campus? Contact [email protected] for support and more information. 



What We Need to Remember this National Hispanic Nurses Day

 

What We Need to Remember this National Hispanic Nurses Day

Author: Melina Lopez*

There’s no better time to think about what being a bisexual Mexican and Puerto Rican nurse means to me than when Bisexuality Awareness Week, Latinx Heritage Month and National Hispanic Nurses day happen at the same time. It’s hard, though, because I can never reflect on these identities as mutually exclusive. It’s even harder when I think about how within the greater scope in which these identities exist (i.e. bisexuality in the LGBTQ community, heritage in the Latinx community, and nurses in the healthcare field), each of these identities have long, deeply rooted histories of erasure and subjugation. 

For bisexuality, it’s the tendency to question the legitimacy of the sexual orientation and consider it less valid than being gay or lesbian. For heritage, it’s the phenotypical hierarchies of power that values lighter-skinned over darker-skinned Latinx people in sociopolitical contexts. For nurses, specifically Latinx nurses, it’s the use of gender as a rationalization to subject nurses to the male-dominated field that is medicine. 

I don’t have the privilege, or rather the ability, to separate these histories from one another since separating these realities would mean erasing their marginalized truth. In thinking about these identities, I’d like to specifically hone in on the role of U.S. imperialism in the history of professional nursing in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico, formerly a colony of Spain, became and still remains a colony of the U.S. under American Protestant missionaries seeking to bring salvation and civilization to Puerto Rico in the early 20th century by introducing hospitals and nursing schools to the island. These nursing schools adopted racist admission policies that excluded Afro-Puerto Rican women by arguing that allowing women of color into the nursing program was not in the best interest of the hospital, nor to the women. White nursing advocates for these ‘whites-only’ admission policies reveal an interesting acknowledgment, compliance, and continuation of women of color’s marginalization in nursing because they claim that Afro-Puerto Rican admission into these schools would not only undo all of the work to advance white women’s political power as nurses, their admission would be unfair to them because they would still be considered socially and professionally inferior to white nurses based on the island’s classification of race, which is a fluid hierarchy based on phenotypical registers of Blackness where money and education have the power to essentially ‘whiten’ Puerto Ricans and grant them higher social status. 

These imperial and local ideologies of race, in conjunction with the belief that Afro-Puerto Rican’s presence in nursing would weaken the white nurses’ political power in health, suggest that gender and social class superseded race when it came to the professionalization of Puerto Rican nursing. It’s important that we acknowledge these intersections this National Hispanic Nurses Day to show that while yes, Latinx nurses have made incredible strides in the advancement of nursing and deserve to be celebrated, we cannot deny how the execution of Nightingale nursing was done at the expense of Latinx, specifically Afro-Latinx, women. 


So, as we celebrate Bisexuality awareness week, Latinx heritage month, and National Hispanic Nurses Day, I urge you to pay special attention to the role American nurses have played in establishing the state of nursing in Latin America. I also caution us from celebrating the myth of homogenized, universal “Latinidad” this Latinx heritage month. Rather, let us all look at the US role as facilitators of these countries’ socialization into American norms and practices through the nursing field. 

Ellen Walsh, “’ Called to Nurse’: Nursing Race, and Americanization in Early 20th Century Puerto Rico, Nursing History Review 26 (2018): 138-171. 

 

 

* Melina Lopez is an inaugural NSRH Karen Edlund Fellow, providing insights to the NSRH Community for Bisexual Awareness Week (September 16-23) and Latinx Heritage Month (September 15- October 15)

Get To Know Our Fellows Series: Leslie Chase

This week NSRH’s student engagement coordinator, Rosie Laine, spoke with Leslie about what brought her to nursing and SRH specifically, and about our monthly value (Power) 

Stay tuned to learn about the amazing work Leslie is doing to support sex and bodyworkers through her Nurse Leader Project in Karen Edlund Fellowship 

NSRH: Tell us a little bit about your SRH journey? What led you to study nursing and how did you become interested in the intersection of nursing and SRH?


Leslie Chase: I always knew that I wanted to be in the medical field from a really young age. I think what really led me to sexual and reproductive health is I graduated college the month after the 2016 election, with my first undergraduate degree. I had always been comfortable talking about sex and answering my friends’ questions, giving them someone to talk to about topics t they were embarrassed about, or they felt a lot of unease about. Right after the 2016 election, I became really motivated to work in something that made a difference. I ended up applying to Planned Parenthood, and I knew that’s exactly where I wanted to be. I’ve been working with Planned Parenthood since I graduated with my undergraduate degree, and it’s done nothing but bolster my interest in SRH. There are so many avenues within it, and you can see really concretely where you’re making a difference in people’s lives. It just felt like a very natural progression of things. 


NSRH: You mentioned that you were interested in nursing, or the medical field, from a pretty young age. What led you to think about this health education degree as something to supplement? 


Leslie Chase: I think really it’s my work with Planned Parenthood. I think often people think of nurses as individual contributors. What I really liked about my exposure to Planned Parenthood is that because of my work on the administrative side, I got to see how organizations like that enact change on a high level, and the impact that you can have to change an entire health landscape with the community. I really liked that idea. I liked my master’s program in health education because it helps you learn how to take your knowledge of being an individual contributor, to assessing the needs of an entire population, or community, or region. I learned how to build projects and programs that have a high impact and impact a lot of people. I liked that perspective of service. 

NSRH: To play on the NSRH Value of the Month - Power - if you had a superpower, what would it be and why?

Leslie Chase: I think teleportation. I love to travel, and I love the experience without all the cost, waiting around, and the carbon emissions. So I think teleportation.


Endurance + Consistency

If you read all 8 of our Trusted Community series, way to go sticking it out with us as we laid out our plans to launch NSRH membership next week! As Lina mentioned in her Still Weaving blog, the team has been working the long-game to build programs, education and a membership program that can bring our nursing community together. 

There are so many clichés about good things come to those who wait or the rainbows come after the storms… we would like to express our gratitude for your patience with us as we worked through the global pandemic, the uprising, and team transitions to bring us to where we are today. Starting next week (it’s really here!), nursing students, nurse professionals, SRH advocates and allies, and retired nurses all have a home with the Nurses for Sexual & Reproductive Health! We’ve prepared content for our Online Institute for members to tap into immediately. The NSRH Social Hub is buzzing with opportunities for more members to gain access to our safe, trusted community social space. And we will constantly be planning more and more to deliver to our members, we want to care for you. 

We call on you to tell your friends, family and community as we open the doors for members to apply. Joining our network will allow them to  start or continue their journey with us on the consistent path of change, learning, and development. Want to make sure you or someone you know can get enrolled, feel free to send us a message and we can follow up with an invite to membership!

Contribution + Action

Performative activism or action is the fast path to losing trust in a person or organization. NSRH shows up in ways that create impact, not performance. Ways that can make the difference for a nurse on their path to delivering the inclusive SRH care they desire to learn and share. Our goal has always been, and will continue to be, providing you with the knowledge, skills, and support to take direct action and make meaningful, lasting contributions to your community.

Becoming an NSRH member will give you the resources necessary to initiate and maintain meaningful change in your clinic and community. We offer online education that can fulfill CE needs, and resources to build your advocacy skills. When you look back at our origins, you’ll discover that our focus has always been to offer resources to students to advocate for changes in curriculum and policy. NSRH started with passionate, young nursing students with a fire for change, and the next generation of nurses & SRH advocates that will continue that legacy of action . We transitioned our membership program from student chapters exclusively to offering community to nurses (students and professionals) and allies that can share the same space. That shared community offers opportunities to contribute and participate in a variety of ways!

Are you interested in action and contribution for the SRH community? We are SO CLOSE to being able to invite you to apply for membership with NSRH. Stay tuned, we will be opening applications and we can’t wait to welcome you to our action-oriented community!

Clear + Direct

Think about a glass of water that you are given at a restaurant. What makes you know that water is safe for you to drink? Is it because you know exactly what tap it came from, or that you’ve eaten there before or know the staff? Maybe. I bet it could also be that it is served in a clear glass and the clarity of the water helps you trust that you are drinking a glass of safe water.

While that is a superfluous example, having clarity into situations and systems allows for us to build trust more quickly compared to viewing obstructed information or feeling like we don’t see the whole picture. NSRH is committed to creating a community built upon a foundation of trust. Transparency and clarity in our actions fosters our shared understanding that uplifts nurses and promotes SRH education and connectivity. We understand that it can be hard to build trust when just starting in the SRH field or if you are entering a community new to you. That is why we will be sharing our Trust Levels system in detail with members to help grow trust in NSRH and trust within our community of disruptive nurses. Check out the Trust Level system overview.

NSRH offers clarity around our vision and values to help nurses understand quickly if this is the right space for them. We strive to remove ambiguity from our work to bring all our members together to share in NSRH’s goals for supporting nurses today and the future of nurses passionate about SRH. Trust and Integrity are two of our core values, and through clarity we are able to embrace those values openly.

We invite you to ask questions, make suggestions, and challenge us. We can ignite the revolution in SRH when we know clearly where we stand. Members play a key role in shaping the future we demand. This is your association, and we are here to support and serve you. Get ready to participate and engage with your fellow nursing community through the membership network of NSRH!

Still Weaving

Some months ago I wrote an article Weaving Community where I likened building community to weaving. I employed this lovely metaphor of community as an "intricate tapestry". Here is what I did not say, weaving is REALLY hard and can be terribly frustrating. Threads get tangled and break and you make a LOT of mistakes that cause unwanted gaps and holes and imperfections in the final project. You start out with this lovely plan where you decide on the pattern and the length and width of the cloth. You have this wonderful vision in your head of how things are going to go and then you sit down at that loom and it all goes to h***. You find that you have to keep deciding which errors to fix and which ones you will pretend were a part of the original plan. Well, that too is a LOT like building community. You start out with all of these wonderful plans and intentions and then life happens.

 

 

This is a pic of my latest project which has been an absolute nightmare. Notice all the little knots? Those are where I had to keep going in after I had supposedly finished threading the loom to fix broken threads.

 

 

 

There has certainly been a whole lot of "life" happening lately. As a nation we continue to navigate a pandemic, made more severe by "leaders" who place their political aspirations above public health. We continue to wrestle with the myriad impacts of white supremacy and hetero-normativity as it manifests in our economy, socio-political institutions, culture, and ultimately, our bodies. We continue to struggle against restrictive laws and policies that seek to control our ability to reproduce if, when, and under the conditions that we choose. NSRH, like many non-profit organizations, has also had to overcome a number of challenges. A lot of the things that we thought would happen (programs that we would launch, events that we would hold…) needed to be put on hold in order to attend to… "life". Believe me when I say there were times when I just wanted to crawl under the covers and hide from all the "life" going on. But then I would see some article about what nurses and other medical professionals were going through out in the field and I knew that, if you all could do it, if you could continue to show up even when our policies and institutions failed to keep you safe; I could certainly keep showing up for you. You are what kept us going. The good news is that we have come out on the other side stronger, more focused, and better organized. We want to be the best that we can be so that we can better serve you.

This has been a tough year and a very busy and fruitful year for us, and finally, yes finally! we are gearing up to launch our Membership Program to the larger community THIS month! I know I said that it was supposed to happen in March, but… "life" happened. In November 2020 we were able to successfully launch our pilot Membership Program and recruited 68 amazing Founding Members, which has allowed us to test various elements of our Membership Program in preparation for the full launch. In addition to this pilot launch we also:

  1. Received accreditation through the California Board of Nursing to provide continuing education (CE) credits/ contact hours for our content. YAAAAAH! This was an incredibly heavy lift for us and the process took about half a year.
  2. Completed a series of beautiful interactive SRH Education modules, which are available to our Members. Check out this sample course from our SRH & Nursing module.
  3. Created our own private and secure social Network, NSRH Social Hub, which is only accessible to our Members (think early Face book sans the Zuckerburg shenanigans).
  4. Continued to grow our Team in order to better serve our community. We went from 4 staff at the beginning of the year, to 3, to 2, to 4, to 5, and now 6! (Plus 3 amazing Assistants).
  5. Implemented a monthly Members Only Newsletter
  6. Launched our Karen Edlund Future Nurse Leaders Fellowship

While things did not work out quite as we had originally planned, we have managed to produce something beautiful. Is it imperfect?... Yes. Are there holes and flaws?... Most definitely yes, however, we are still weaving!

This is a pic of my last and largest project thus far. It turned out nice but it was a nightmare to make and I literally changed up the pattern midway through because I figured out that I did not like the initial pattern that I designed, which is why the one pattern transitions to a different pattern. 

Connection + Community

Those of you who have attended our activist conference have felt the power of the NSRH network. For more than five years now, NSRH has brought together nurses and midwives from across the country to hear from one another, expand their knowledge base, and build community. The activist conference is a cornerstone of NSRH’s commitment to building a strong and trusted community, and it continues (although interrupted by COVID-19) to provide an invaluable opportunity for nurses in SRH to reconnect and forge new connections.

These connections persist beyond the walls of our conference. Members of NSRH are able to attend our in-person events, and they will receive 24/7 access to an online community of students and professionals. Despite working, studying, and living in cities across the country, our nurses and midwives connect, whether virtually or in-person, with one another. This is because we share a common commitment of ensuring just, dignified, and comprehensive SRH care for all. Joining NSRH means joining a network of clinicians, researchers, students, and advocates who are as passionate as you are about fighting for change in our healthcare system. As a member, you will gain access to not only our catalog of educational, advocacy, and professional development resources, but a community of allies ready to stand alongside you as you navigate your journey through the SRH field.

At NSRH, our community has been a central part of our history, and it is core to our mission. Whether it be through our campus chapters, the NSRH rotations, or our activist conference, we have and will continue to unite disruptive nurses from different cities, different sectors, and at different points in their professional careers for a common goal. Our community is as strong as it is unique; because we support all nursing professionals and nursing students, connections are developed and knowledge is passed between nurses and midwives of varying backgrounds, credentials, and sectors. Joining NSRH is an opportunity to unite and mobilize, and we can’t wait to connect with you! To learn more about our membership program and the options available to all types of SRH students and professionals, reach out to Nikki at [email protected] to see where you fit.

NSRH Education Web

In the past year, we have all had to learn and re-learn techniques to heal, hold, and care for ourselves and the people around us. Some of us have looked back to learn how our communities have traditionally held each other, some have looked forward to imagine different possibilities for care. At NSRH we have done a little bit (a lot!) of both. We were reaffirmed that there are ways in which nurses have always been foundational to the care of their communities; and, we see that there are other ways of knowing and caring that need to arise. In planning our educational offerings, we have kept all of this in mind. Part of this process has involved learning from the natural world and its ability to regenerate and survive.

Consider the structures of a spider web: Spiders are able to adjust the consistency of their web based on function and need. The edges are sticky to trap food, the center is smooth to allow for mobility. Incorporating our values in our education program creates trust and allows for a center that encourages curiosity and discovery. From the nurse just beginning their journey into sexual and reproductive health (SRH), to the ‘SRH experts,’ we all need trust as a foundation to allow for comfort, mistakes and growth. Our web encourages all of us to lean into the sticky discomfort of unknowing, learning and cultivating a practice that celebrates sexual and reproductive care. Whether someone is using our online education platform to learn about comprehensive pregnancy options counseling for the first time, or a seasoned SRH vet is revisiting a topic after noticing moments where their theoretical knowledge hasn’t matched their practice, our education web holds all of that.

Spider webs are formed from single threads connected to function as a whole. We know that the education needs of the nursing community are vast. In order to transform healthcare to robustly celebrate SRH, we need to engage and support different learning styles and diverse education needs. From our Karen Edlund Nurse Leader Fellowship, developing the leadership capacity of nursing students from underrepresented communities, to online learning with CE’s that can be done on shift, to the Training in Abortion Care Fellowship for registered nurses to gain experience in abortion care, to in-person education sessions with partners in this work, each component of NSRH’s education functions as a thread strengthening the collective web of nurses in SRH.

Finally, one of the most magnificent elements of spider webs is their incorporation of beauty. Research has shown that the design of some spider webs are not just for function, but for beauty as well. This is a clear reminder that pleasure, beauty and differences are critical in shaping the whole structure. Prioritizing complexities as a means to pleasure is foundational to NSRH, including our education program. We know that not every community or every nurse has the same needs or vision. Rather making space for and celebrating our different shapes and structures is what makes our web capable and beautiful.

Cultivating Comprehensive Care

We caught up with NSRH founding member Alli Mitchell, RN, IBCLC, PHN, SNM, to discuss identity and the role of intersectionality in comprehensive SRH care. Alli (she/her) is a registered nurse, lactation consultant, and student midwife based in San Leandro, California.

What are the intersections of your identity?
I am a biracial, Black & Latinx cis-gendered woman. I am a registered nurse, a lactation consultant, and student midwife. I am the daughter of an immigrant and 1st generation Bay Area native on my mother's side. I definitely feel that the intersections of my identity allow me to foster deeper connections with my patients.

How does intersectionality impact your work in clinical practice?
Intersectionality helps me to relate to my patients. I am fortunate to be able to serve my home community here in the Bay Area, which is made up of large numbers of Black and Latinx people. I know that when I am supporting patients, they feel safe, seen, and cared for because we come from the same background and share similar life experiences.

On a day-to-day basis in the clinic, how can nurses and midwives better honor and respect their patients’ multiple intersecting identities?
I feel the best way that nurses and midwives can honor and respect their patient’s intersecting identities is by listening and holding space for them. Allowing them the chance to share their concerns and goals surrounding their care.

How can we use identity intersections to provide more comprehensive care?
Comprehensive care should be driven by an individual’s need and identity intersections. As providers, we should be tailoring care based on our patient’s individual needs and experiences.

Do you have any resources about this topic that you would recommend nurses look into?
I recommend the following resources: Black Mamas Matter Alliance, The Black Maternal Health Caucus, Expecting Justice, PostPartum Justice, and SisterSong.

 

Engagement + Commitment

Commitment to the mission has always been at the heart of what we do, driving us forward and navigating our changing landscape. Our mission reads, “NSRH provides students, nurses and midwives with education and resources to become skilled care providers and social change agents in sexual and reproductive health and justice.” We were founded by disruptive nursing student advocates who aimed to improve care and provide inclusive, full spectrum healthcare, and that is still at the core of what we do.

We invite you to celebrate, collaborate and commit to patience, learning and growth through NSRH membership. To share our collective growth edges, so we can all strive to bring better care to those in our clinics and community. We know that breaking into a new space (like membership or SRH) can seem difficult, but we are here to support you and make it easy and rewarding for you. We have a powerful network to build resource sharing and collective learning. We have downloadable advocacy tools for promoting change. We have online education to enhance nursing skills and we have CE credits for many of our courses. Plus, we are here to create and develop new resource ideas that YOU bring to us. As a membership group, NSRH’s community will aid in driving future content that engages and resonates with nurses passionate about providing robust, inclusive care.

We commit to listen as we are here to support nurses across their careers, from students to professionals to emeritus or retired. Unsure if membership is the right fit for you? Give us a call at 651-207-7293 or send us an email, get to know NSRH, we’d love the opportunity to care for you.

Competent + Capable

Nursing Students for Choice started in 2006 with a group of passionate nursing students who stood up for inclusive, full-spectrum sexual and reproductive healthcare. For well over a decade, nursing students have held the torch and marched toward changing their communities and curriculums to include comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare. Students are capable of so much and the competency earned and shared with chapter members created a foundation for nurses to come together to learn. Check out the full history and evolution of NSRH here.

It is because of our competent student leadership that we have been able to sustain and grow over time and we are excited to launch the full membership program to bring our nursing students and nursing professionals & educators together in community for support, continued education and connection. As individuals, we are capable of impacting change in our immediate circles. When we bring together the brain trust of experience and education, the community will have shared competency to influence change on a grander scale.

NSRH stays relevant by evolving our organization to expand impact and bring more knowledge around the needs and opportunities when providing SRH care. We are humbled by the wisdom of our sage nursing professionals and refreshed by the energy from our student nurses. Interested in sharing ways that NSRH can support and serve you with membership, send us a message at [email protected], we’d love to hear from you!

Constitution + Character

When you come across a great path in the wilderness that leads to a hidden spot with a lake or a view, do you ever think about the people who walked that path before you? The trail-makers who knew or felt that going a specific direction would lead to a better spot. Someone with unique knowledge knew to take those first steps toward their goal even though the beauty of their journey was still obstructed. They showed up time and time again to stomp down the path for others to follow.

At NSRH, we encourage trail-makers. By providing support and resources, we encourage them to take the challenging path with confidence to stop situations or institutions that are harming, marginalizing, or ignoring our community’s needs. Disrupting the status quo alone is isolating and can leave us feeling overwhelmed, and that is why the community of nurses at NSRH continue to demonstrate the constitutional changes that need to be made in healthcare. Our nurses come together to learn from each other and build the characteristics essential to delivering comprehensive care in the moments where the path is not clear.

In times of uncertainty, NSRH will stay true and take on the difficult tasks that will impact and improve the lives of nursing professionals and the communities they serve. NSRH does the hard work that needs to be done for nurses fighting for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health, reproductive justice and rights. It is through our dedication and character that we build the ongoing trust of our community, we are here for you.

If your constitution pushes you to get involved with like minded people, NSRH membership is the community for you! Get connected with us on social media by following us at @NursesforSRH on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn & Facebook and stay tuned for our membership program launch coming soon.

Tenderness + Benevolence

Have you noticed how some leaders seem to have organic followings that people are magnetically drawn to? Identify a few of the great leaders in your life, what made them special to you? Most memorable leaders share a common trait, they lead with compassionate care for the community that embraces them. By focusing on the needs of others, leaders are able to grow the talent in their communities.

We are more likely to trust and engage with leaders and communities that prioritize the greater good. Groups that have rigid structures don’t account for the tenderness needed in human relationships or the beauty in being benevolent. At NSRH, we put the needs of passionate, disruptive nurses to the front of our vision. We prioritize caring with compassion for our members, celebrating your victories and holding space for the challenges faced in daily life as a nurse.

We all have spaces in our life where we can bring our authentic selves and thrive. Third Space Theory is a sociocultural term to designate communal space, as distinct from the home (first space) or work (second space). NSRH aims to be the third space for our members to grow and realize their potential as compassionate, inclusive nurses. We strive to be a third space that fosters compassion with accountability, to provide education that develops inclusivity, and a safe space to have crucial conversations about what is going on at hospitals and clinics that can impact patient care or outcomes. It is when we gather in a collective third space that we can bring our lived experience and our learned experiences together to grow in a safe community together.

Features of the Trusted Community of NSRH are built on the foundations of compassion, benevolence, and tenderness. We move forward with our hearts and ears open. If this sounds like a community you want to be a part of or know other nurses interested in connecting, get in touch with us at [email protected] and join NSRH membership when we launch this summer!

Here is an example of an artistic representation of Third Space.

Pandemic Nursing: Forty Years of Advocacy

To honor and elevate the history and relevance of providing care with love to populations that have been stigmatized or marginalized, we invited a guest author, Kristopher J. Jackson, to share his voice on the COVID-19 and AIDS crisis. 

Kristopher J. Jackson, MSN, ACNPC-AG, CCRN
PhD Candidate, University of New Mexico College of Nursing, Albuquerque, NM
Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco, CA

“Across the United States, wards of patients admitted to the hospital with an unusual pneumonia became more commonplace. Little was known about these patients’ condition, their projected illness course, or how to treat them.”

For those who have worked in the acute care setting during the last fifteen months, these statements certainly sound as though they were intended to describe the thousands of Americans hospitalized with severe COVID-19. However, the sequestration of patients afflicted with a poorly understood viral illness is not a novel practice. For those in clinical practice four decades ago, many may recall a different viral illness that created similar panic and confusion among healthcare professionals: the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Undoubtedly, AIDS patients who presented with pneumocystis pneumonia in the 1980’s differed clinically from present-day COVID-19 patients today in a myriad of ways. Clinically speaking, the two diseases have almost nothing in common at all. Despite the overwhelming number of differences between AIDS and COVID-19 as clinical entities, there are some poignant similarities in the American public’s reaction to these two pandemics and they tend share a common theme: a fear of the unknown.

As both pandemics began to ravage communities in the United States, providers and public health officials found themselves having to answer challenging questions: How is the virus spread? How do nurses, providers, and hospital staff care for a patient with a potentially deadly disease? What protective equipment do providers need to take care of these patients? Who should take care of these patients? Meanwhile, the American public had many questions of its own: How do we protect ourselves? Where did this virus start? Who is to blame? Who should we ostracize? As both pandemics began to jeopardize the “American way of life,” fear and anxiety plagued a nation.

In the early 1980’s, more patients died from a disease initially referred to by scientists as “gay related immune deficiency” or “GRID” and – more colloquially – “gay cancer.” In 1982, one particularly reprehensible reporter and White House correspondent, Lester Kinsolving, once mockingly referred to the disease as the “gay plague” in a press conference with former President Ronald Regan’s acting press secretary, Larry Speakes. Despite the thousands of American deaths, Kinsolving’s remarks were met with jokes and laughter by members of the White House press corps. While reporters and government officials in Washington D.C. amused themselves with commentary about those suffering and dying from AIDS, these patients were being abandoned and spurned by their families and communities. Fearing what they did not understand, some physicians and nurses refused to see or care for patients living with the virus. Other members of the American public felt an HIV diagnosis was some sort of karmic punishment for the gay men and intravenous drug users that contracted the first cases of the disease. These are beliefs that, to this day, remain deeply embedded into the very fiber of some sects of American society.

Nearly forty years later, in December 2019, early reports emerged of a bizarre coronavirus-associated pneumonia in China. As the World Health Organization and international public health experts began to investigate this new virus in the weeks that followed, the American public prepared a response of its own. Videos of Asians or individuals of Asian descent consuming bats or “bat soup” plagued the internet. Much like the early years of the AIDS epidemic, the American “way of life” was in jeopardy and the American people needed to hold someone accountable. Former President Donald Trump would later come to refer to COVID-19 using a variety of derogatory, xenophobic, anti-Asian epithets including: “China virus,” “Wuhan virus,” “China plague,” and the “Kung-Flu.” As the leader of the free world ‘dialed-up’ his anti-Asian rhetoric to provide Americans a target for their rage, Asian-Americans faced more violence and more racism; hate crimes committed against Asian-Americans became more commonplace.

While decades apart, the early failures and relative inaction of the executive branch of the U.S. Federal Government during the beginning of both the HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 pandemics are well documented. The first cases of HIV surfaced in 1981 and the virus itself was isolated in 1983. Sadly, President Ronald Regan would not publicly utter the word “AIDS” until 1985. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 50,000 Americans would be diagnosed with HIV between 1981 and 1987 when President Regan formed the Watkin’s Commission to investigate the AIDS epidemic. More than 95% of Americans diagnosed with HIV as a result of President Regan’s flagrant disregard for the disease died during this same period.

In early 2020, as international public health experts warned of the severity and virulence of the novel coronavirus, the executive branch of the federal government failed to heed these warnings. However, perhaps more disturbing, is that former President Donald Trump offered the American people false assurance and abject lies. On April 7th, 2020, President Trump told the American people: "…so, you know, things are happening. It's a -- it's -- I haven't seen bad. I've not seen bad." The day before this announcement, the death toll of Americans who had succumbed to COVID-19 surpassed 10,000. By April 11th, more than 20,000 lives had been lost to COVID-19. The Federal Government also failed to issue a federal mask mandate or mandatory guidelines regarding social distancing, instead allowing individual states to choose how they would respond to this public health emergency. This leadership failure translated to a highly partisan response to a deadly virus, as well as unnecessary death and human suffering. To date, nearly 600,000 Americans have died as a result of COVID-19.

Despite the early failures of the U.S. Government to lead or act during either of these viral pandemics, everyday heroes worked to answer the desperate calls for help from patients, providers, and their communities. One of the first specialized AIDS wards in the country was opened at San Francisco General Hospital using an all-volunteer nursing staff. Shortly after the formation of Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City, the oldest AIDS organization in the United States, nurses offered volunteers trainings on basic caretaking skills. Over time, as HIV care transitioned to the outpatient setting and overburdened clinics, advanced practice nurses answered these calls for help and now play an integral role in the treatment and management of HIV in the United States today. Decades later, as COVID-19 wreaked havoc across New York City, more nurses answered pleas for volunteer assistance in the city’s overburdened hospitals than could be processed. During the last year, nurses across the United States stepped out of their outpatient clinics and lower acuity settings and into makeshift intensive care units to care for our country’s sickest and most vulnerable patients.

The AIDS and COVID-19 pandemics are merely two examples of public health emergencies where nurses have worked —proudly — on the front lines in their communities. While government leaders and policymakers may have been slow to respond to these crises, nurses were among the first to care and advocate for these vulnerable patients. Unfortunately, new threats to public health continue to emerge, almost daily, that further jeopardize the status of sexual and reproductive health care in America. Unlike AIDS or COVID-19, we as nurses know what these threats look like; we know how these threats will adversely affect the health and well-being of our patients. Taken together, these crises represent public health emergencies that require the same diligence and commitment to our patients that we have shown throughout history. The future of person-centered, quality sexual and reproductive health care in the United States rests on our shoulders.

Care During Crisis

The following is a summary of a conversation between Victoria Fletcher, MSN, ARNP, FACNM and Nikki Duffney, NSRH Director of Membership about the similarities from her history and lived experiences between the HIV/AIDS crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. Edits have been made for length and clarity.

Victoria Fletcher, MSN, ARNP, FACNM is a certified nurse-midwife, NSRH founding member, and NSRH board member. She was contracted in 1990 to provide health education to healthcare professionals in the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Topics included etiology, transmission, prevention, treatment and caring for patients with HIV/AIDS. We sat down with her to discuss her experience working in healthcare during the HIV/AIDS crisis and COVID-19 pandemic, and what similarities and differences she has noticed between the two.

In the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis and the COVID pandemic when little information was known, it invoked similar human reactions: stigma, shame, and fear. Health outcomes were driven by lack of evidenced based information, limited access to care, and health disparities. There are overlapping emotions that came to light as these two very different pathogens took hold of populations:

Stigma

Stigma toward the population that seemingly started it or had/has the highest incidence of infection was felt during both crises. HIV/AIDS saw initial stigma pointed at gay men and the LGBTQ populations, and Chinese people and government had the global finger pointing at them as the source or reason for the COVID-19 pandemic. Some even called COVID the “Chinese” virus, which can be directly tied to the increase in Asian-American Pacific Islander hate crimes.

Unknown transmission

At first, people didn’t know how HIV/AIDS or COVID-19 was transmitted and this ignorance led to fear, wide-ranging theories of transmission, and irrational ways to prevent transmission and to treat the diseases. Since there was early information about HIV/AIDS compromising immune function, the first AIDS patients who were hospitalized were cared for in protective isolation; staff and visitors had to gown and glove before entering their rooms to prevent a vulnerable person from contracting infections from staff or visitors. This changed as people received effective treatment for HIV/AIDS, hospitalizations were decreased and severe immune compromise avoided.

Having celebrities and athletes testing positive for HIV/AIDS gave the general population a different perspective on who could get the virus and how the virus could be transmitted. Magic Johnson, a pro-basketball player and considered a vision of health, revealed his status in 1991. Freddie Mercury died from AIDS related illnesses in 1992, the same year pro-tennis player Arthur Ashe’s status was revealed and traced to a blood transfusion. One year later Philadelphia, the first major Hollywood production on the topic of AIDS, was released.

Actor Tom Hanks contracted COVID-19 while filming in Australia in March, 2020. A study found that public opinion surrounding the then-new coronavirus shifted after he was diagnosed, with some individuals taking the coronavirus more seriously as a result. Most participants wrote that the virus now seemed like more of a serious threat in their minds, and one said they felt “panicked” because Hanks “is rich and protected. He can get it. Anyone can get it.” (source: Huffington Post, 2/6/21)

Lack of education

There was a surprising lack of education and research available to professionals. Treatment options available in both the AIDS crisis and the pandemic were under-shared and left people uncertain about their options. Studies have shown that it can take up to 10 years for new medical guidelines and practice standards to reach doctors and nurses and become the standard of care. That timeline must be shortened, as we don’t have the luxury of time in situations like the AIDS crisis or COVID-19.

With COVID, there is a similar lack of information about transmission and treatments. There are Rx options like monoclonal antibodies for people who test positive that could lessen the virus’ impact and prevent hospitalization and death. Many healthcare providers and potential recipients don’t know about this option, and the treatment modality is not universally available throughout the US. Where is the standardized training related to COVID-19? What education and training needs to be mandated and required for all healthcare workers?

I wish I could believe that similar diseases are not on the horizon and it would be another lifetime before we encounter novel diseases such as the two discussed above. What is needed are rapid cycle strategies to identify new potentially devastating infectious diseases, mechanisms to crack the code on mode of transmission, identify prevention modalities and evidenced based treatment options. Also required is a clear, accurate communication plan for healthcare professionals and the general public especially the most vulnerable populations. We need to broaden our definition of emergency response to include protracted crises that last several months or even years. If we can accomplish this and reside in a state of perpetual readiness, then there is hope that we can learn from past experiences and improve response to the next pandemic or crisis.

This story is shared to capture the personal experience and feelings of a nursing professional that has offered support and care through these two unique and difficult periods. 

Do you have a story to tell? We welcome you to submit your story or blog idea to us so we can feature you in our newsletter or on our blog. Email us at [email protected] or message us on social media @NursesforSRH.

How to Network to Build Community

Networking, community, connection, synergy, contacts, friends, colleagues, comrades, buddies, or companions. We have so many names and ways to categorize connectivity with other people, yet the basics of how to make friends and build relationships can be challenging for many of us. Why do some people buzz in the middle of the room or have a large presence on social media? Is it because they are better in some way than others? I think not; they have often done the hard work at some point in creating their community intentionally, and I’d like to share a few ideas of how this can be done.

Networking plays an important role for nurses. From attaining that clinical rotation and building a network of nurses to support each other in getting jobs, to specific needs like having a doctor vouch for you when working on a complicated medical case if you are an APRN. Networking in nursing can even affect how people are able to get care. Not to mention, nurses need community! When you’ve worked three back-to-back 12 hour shifts, it’s important to have people in your corner who understand what you are going through.

Here are 3 ideas that may be helpful in your work or social space to expand your community intentionally. 

  1. Show up in the places that bring like minded people together.
    • This can feel overwhelming at first since you could be showing up to a room full of people you don’t know (yet!). Take this first step and ease into connecting with others by asking questions, sharing experiences, or offering to help.
  2. Start asking questions.
    • Learning the group norms by asking questions can help set us up for success when building relationships. By understanding how the community interacts with each other, we are more likely to connect with others quickly.
    • Once comfortable with asking group questions, start asking people relationship building questions. These questions don’t need to be too personal; start with more generic, accessible topics. Easy examples can be:
      • What brought you to this group?
      • What do you do with your time outside of this group?
      • Why do you like to participate with this group?
    • Remember that we are all experts at ourselves, so asking someone an open ended question about who they are can show you some of the important factors in their life. We can ask about family, pets, hobbies, or sports & recreation.
  3. Be direct and ask plainly for your needs.
    • If you are looking to build a dynamic relationship that involves exchange of information or mentor/mentee opportunities, go directly for it!
    • Be transparent about your goals and interests
    • Ask pointed questions that get you results, that could be “What is your biggest challenge outside of time or money?”

Lastly, meeting new people and tending to young relationships is FUN! It can feel a lot like dating, and there is potential for let down or disappointment; however, the connectivity with a community reaps such great rewards. It is worth the minor risk.

Wondering where you can build community with like minded people? Join the NSRH membership to gain access to a trusted community of nurses disrupting the status quo to serve patients with dignity and care. We are here to support you.