Go public with nursing expertise

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Whenever I peruse a consumer publication or access online media that contain health-related topics, one of the first things I look for is whether a nurse contributed to the content or has a seat on the publication's editorial board. Sadly, it's rare. Instead, I typically find ample evidence of physician, pharmacist, nutritionist, and physical therapist involvement. Despite the prevalence of subjects in the consumer literature for which nurses are well suited to share expertise and perspective, the nursing voice is disconcertingly silent.
There are 3.6 million nurses in the United States.1 As a profession, why aren't we better represented as healthcare experts in the consumer sector? Yes, nursing once again was rated as the most trusted profession for honesty and ethics in the Gallup Polls,2 but does that trust extend to the general public recognizing nurses as legitimate sources of health information? Are consumer editors and reporters disregarding our attempts to contribute? Or, conversely, are we ignoring opportunities to engage as authors or content experts? Many nurses seek publication in the professional literature as a goal. Why not consider contributing high-quality, reader-appropriate content for consumer literature as well? These questions represent rich areas for nursing research and strategy development. We need to better understand the underlying reasons why, regardless of our numbers, we seem to be largely invisible as experts to consumers.
The American Nurses Association's 2017-2020 Strategic Plan advocates positioning nurses “as integral partners in consumers' health and health care journeys.”3 I believe that fundamental to this effort is enabling the nursing voice in consumer literature. Think about popular magazines that contain women's and men's health and safety topics. Given your own professional knowledge base and practice area, consider what you might be able to contribute.
How could your nursing experience in the hospital, outpatient setting, home, or academic setting offer insight to consumers on health promotion, illness or injury prevention, symptom management, innovation, or patient advocacy? What about perspectives on career opportunities in nursing? Well-crafted, HIPAA-compliant nursing stories are another powerful tool that can increase consumer awareness of issues that nurses manage. Collectively, we can offer a wealth of information to the public.
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