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Nursing With the People

The current featured ANS article is titled “Nursing With the People: Reimagining Futures for Nursing” authored by Jessica Dillard-Wright, PhD, MA, RN, CNM and Vanessa Shields-Haas, MSN, MA, RN, FNP-BC, SAFE-ME – available to download at no cost while it is featured! The authors describe what this article adds to the literature as being “. . . a robust discussion of nursing’s resistance to and complicity with structures of white supremacy and neoliberalism. This then serves as a platform to engage a radical imagination for the future of nursing.” The authors shared this message about their work:

L-R – Jess, Vanessa

Nursing is limited only by what we can imagine as possible. With “Nursing With the People: Reimagining Futures for Nursing,” we (Vanessa and Jess) are hoping to invite a broader dialogue in nursing around what is possible for our discipline, where we have been, where we are going, and what shapes the terrain we navigate. The circumstances of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic and the inequities laid bare in the wake of civil protests against police brutality demands our full attention. To this end, in our paper we recognize the deeply political nature of nursing work, attending to the ways our profession has, by turns, upheld oppression and fostered liberation. We sketch out a brief schema for thinking about change in nursing, outlining approaches including reform, whistleblowing, and radical resistance, recognizing the complexities and complicities of our disciplinary history. We use the tensions that arise when we complicate our history to invoke a radical imagination for nursing, a doorway to alternate possibilities for the future of health, wellbeing, nursing, and healthcare.

This paper is, in some ways, a culmination of sorts. We first “presented” what would eventually become this paper at Nursing Mutual Aid’s 2020 Twitter conference, a radical and unique event designed to connect nurses to one another in a time when sheltering in place led us to seek connection in new ways. We presented a more refined version of the topic at the 2021 Nursing Theory Conference, where ideas, engagement, and feedback from participants in that space propelled us forward. Our collaborative scholarship here was forged through our grassroots efforts with Radical Nurses Collective, a space for organizing and action. The kernel for Radical Nurses Collective was planted in another radical space, the 2018 NurseManifst Nurse Activism Think Tank organized by Peggy Chinn. “Nursing With the People” creates a tidy sort of symmetry that way.

In many other ways, it is a starting place – a foundation for dreaming up what is just, what is equitable, what is possible, if we choose to see it. We hope you read our paper. We hope you share your thoughts here. We want to know what you see for the future of nursing, for the care we provide. And we want to build that together. We invite you to contemplate nursing’s past to understand where we find ourselves now. We welcome you to activate your radical imagination. To paraphrase the inimitable Ursula Le Guin, we close with the reminder that, although the structures and systems that exist seem immutable, at points past “so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.” What it takes is imagination and collective will. We hope you will join us.

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