CEO's Corner: Happy Pride Month!

  • Posted on: 20 June 2019
  • By: AMSN
Terri Hinkley, AMSN CEO

Happy Pride Month!

AMSN continues to work tirelessly to bring value to our members and customers. As you’ve likely seen, we’ve rolled out podcasts, videos and new webinars. We’re building new online learning courses in behavioral health for medical-surgical nurses, significantly increased our advocacy and legislative activities and continue to explore ways we can support you as you navigate the increasingly complex and rapidly-changing work environment.

Doing so requires significant strategic thinking and foresight. What will nursing look like in 2 years? In 5 years? What will med-surg nurses need to help them in the workplace? How will the nursing students in school today be prepared for the changing practice environment? There aren’t answers to these questions, at least not yet, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t critical to consider. Now I don’t know anyone with a crystal ball, so we’re left to try and understand today’s work environment and how external factors are likely to affect it. In the world of strategic thinking and foresight, these factors are called ‘signals’. We, at AMSN, are continuously scanning the external environment for such signals to understand how they will impact you and your profession in the future.

To do so takes a lot of expertise and experience. We are not doing this alone. AMSN has an exceptional board made up of committed medical-surgical nurses from a variety of backgrounds and practice settings. We have hundreds of volunteers that have contributed their expertise and experience to the work we are doing. We can’t do it without them. You see, diversity improves the decision-making process. As one of my George Washington University doctoral professors noted in a publication on strategic thinking, “Diversity of age, gender, education, experience, organizational tenure, knowledge, and skills has been found to enhance work group creativity, judgmental quality and overall outcomes” (Goldman, 2012, p. 28).

In fact, many scholars and experts in strategic thinking have identified the team involved in decision-making as one of the strongest indicators of success. It is not enough to have a smart ‘leader’ making the decisions for an organization. Teams, made up of diverse individuals willing to critically debate opportunities before reaching consensus on a decision, increase the success of an organization. Collectively we are better thinkers and make better decisions than we do individually. That’s because we bring a variety of perspectives, lived experiences and expertise together in committees, task forces, teams, and our boards of directors, which enable us to consider many alternatives that might not be apparent to one individual. The greater the heterogeneity of the team, the better.

So, let us remember to value and embrace those that are ‘different’ than we are. Let us welcome them to the table and learn from them. Let us truly strive to ensure that we are representative of all people in the work we do. AMSN is committed to increasing the diversity and inclusion of its staff, board, volunteers and members. We have so much we can learn from all of you. As we celebrate Pride Month, let us celebrate all that diversity and inclusion can do to make us stronger and better…as nurses, as leaders, and as people.

Goldman, E. (2012). Leadership practices that encourage strategic thinking. Journal of Strategy and Management, 5(1), 25-40. doi:10.1108/17554251211200437

Robin's Nest - AMSN President's Message, June 2019

  • Posted on: 17 June 2019
  • By: AMSN
Robin Hertel, AMSN Board President

June has had a long history of celebrations with weddings and graduations; of freedom with the celebration of Juneteenth; and of personal and social rights with the celebration of Pride month. Unfortunately, nursing hasn’t always celebrated the differences that make us stronger as a profession. We have, on occasion, denied our colleagues the freedom to be themselves in the practice setting and failed to acknowledge the personal and social rights of the members of our profession.

I have a colleague who has told stories about increasing stress and anxiety after informing other members on the nursing team of his identification with the LGBTQIA community. Rather than a feeling inclusivity and freedom to be himself, my colleague described being subjected to a hostile and often homophobic environment, even to the point of being told by a nurse leader to “stop acting so gay."

Nursing is supposed to be the essence of caring and yet more than 50% of persons identifying as being LGBTQ reported hearing jokes in the work setting about lesbian or gay individuals according to a study completed just last year (Fidas & Cooper, 2018). This essence of caring is such an important part of our profession that it is the first standard in the Nursing Code of Ethics which charges nurses to care for others, including their colleagues, with compassion and respect (American Nurses Association, 2015).

Perhaps the issue is not so much that nurses wish to be exclusive to those who identify as part of the LGBTQIA community but instead an unawareness of the unique culture, language, and barriers that members of this community face.

Here are a few things nurses can do to increase awareness and cultural competence:
• Promote an inclusive practice environment. An inclusive practice environment decreases stress and burnout, while promoting feelings of safety and ultimately, improved patient outcomes.
• Recognize the need for cultural competency training. Nurses can establish their own LGBTQIA clinical competence as well as spearhead the drive to increase cultural awareness of everyone in the organization. Multiple resources are available that use a variety of learning modalities including in-person training, webinars and learning modules (see insert).
• Interprofessional collaboration. Nurses can lead committees made up of multidisciplinary healthcare team members in developing processes and nondiscriminatory position statements that create an environment of inclusivity.
• Discuss barriers and needs. Nurses can engage in open and frank discussions with members of the LGBTQIA community regarding the use of preferred pronouns, medical and psychological issues faced.
• Engage in advocacy. Nurses can work to promote and welcome the presence of the family of choice of a colleague who identifies as part of the LGBTQIA community as a part of company activities.

My colleague eventually left nursing because of the increased stress and hostility of the workplace. It is heartbreaking, not just because of the loss of a member of our profession, but also because what he faced somehow diminished the light that was within him. He was never the same vibrant personality but instead became wary and withdrawn. As nurse leaders, each of us can work to transform the healthcare setting to one of inclusion, respect, caring and nondiscrimination. Are you willing to start the journey?

The Med-Surg Moments: The AMSN Podcast Friday 21st edition discussed issues affecting the LGBTQ community and med-surg nursing professionals.
Get the episode everywhere you get your podcasts, or visit here:

More Helpful Information / Links:
Gay and Lesbian Medical Association: Health professionals Advancing LGBT Equality.
Lavender Health.
National Coalition for LGBT Health.
National LGBT Cancer Network.
Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE).