When an email invitation came to attend a Nursing Activism Think Tank, I immediately agreed to go, even without knowing a single soul. The information grabbed me by the throat and the heart. The throat, because I have been working to use my voice in previously unknown spaces and my heart because I care about the safety of children. The event also tested my courage in many ways. My courage to sign up, show up and participate in ways that I would not have imagined.
The Nursing Activism Think Tank was a collective gathering with shared leadership and no set agenda. The seminal question was to identify the moment when you were called to activism in nursing. That question drove the rest of the two-day event. Fifty nurses from varying disciplines came together at UMass Amherst to share our stories of activism, love of our profession and concern for the preservation of nursing. The stories shared were as diverse as the participants.
Some nurses were called to activism following a patient care scenario that caused moral distress triggering a trauma response. One nurse had such a horrendous experience as a pediatric in-patient, she made it a personal goal to grow up to be a “nice nurse.” The stories ran the gamut of years of activism to brand new activists who were yearning to find community in nursing.
Nursing as an act of radical activism was a concept that one of the participants shared early on in the event. Nursing is an act of radical activism, she said clearly, with full conviction and I listened. The Nursing Activism Think Tank served to close the gap for me that separated my work, especially as a school nurse in a community filled with adversity, from my activism. They are actually one and the same.