In the Journal of Research in Nursing, Veronica Bishop's editorial -
- explores the state of the body politic in nursing. Bishop's focus is research, but the implications extend beyond the UK, to nursing globally. The body is indeed immersed in politics, but it seems the feet are dry and there is no one at home.
Considering that The Politics of Nursing by Jane Salvage was published c. 1991 political maturity is long overdue?
While the sexual politics of nursing have been campaigned for in the nursing media and vigilance is needed, it seems that a political birth for nursing needs to be induced. There is a political mentality there, there has to be. The future is too challenging, too fraught, too close to be mollified by appeals of "Anything for an easy life (and death)!."
Bishop begins with a quote:
The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.If you are familiar with the health career model then you know what is coming. ... In quantitative terms 25% of our deliberations using Hodges' model can be POLITICAL. This is not just the political dimensions of the patient, carer and the health and social care enterprise. The model includes the practitioner, but back to Bishop:
Theodore Hesburgh (1917–)
Having ‘power’ is a concept that sits uncomfortably with many nurses – it does not fit with the ideal of caring and many clinical nurses are quite open in their lack of regard for those in management, seeing them as power-seekers rather than power-movers. Clearly nurse leaders have in many cases failed to take their clinical colleagues with them in the drive to put nursing where it belongs, at the decision-making point that drives the agenda for health services, a point borne out by Stanley (2009).How ironic that 'comfort' itself has been the subject of concept analysis and theorising in the nursing literature. If student nurses are exposed to the POLITICAL from the outset of their careers, then surely at the very least they will be more comfortable dealing with the guises and disguises of power?
Bishop refers to leadership and ownership and the two are frequently conjoined. The question of politics in nursing - in thought, practice, management and policy (research!) - makes me wonder ownership of what?
If the political domain is so frequently a vacant lot as far as nurses are concerned, then perhaps when we do put in an appearance we are not taken seriously. It really is a case of: what are you doing here?! As Bishop points out through -
Nurses are scientific. When they want to get to the core of a problem they always try to drill down. Yet politics are about the big picture. Nurses are agriculturalists in that they grow and nurture things but politicians are hunters – they’re always after the big game. It’s these kinds of differences nurses need to start to understand. (Cumberlege, 2007).Nurses are there in the POLITICAL domain: they are constantly trying to complete the big picture.
... we were considering the best way for her [Baroness Cumberlege] to approach an interview the following day, and eventually, after we had viewed the uppermost issue of the day from every angle she said ‘Oh, nursing is so big!’. How right she was – there is hardly any aspect of life that it does not overlap or impinge on, so considering the big picture is a mammoth task! And again, she was right, we need leaders who have clarity and energy, and can cut through the detail and focus on the professional entity.Yes, the big 'P'-icture is a mammoth task, hence the need to uncover, compose and frame it early. POLITICS is not just a matter of whistle blowing, industrial relations, policy, the system, us-and-them, banner headlines. ...
Politics is much more and crucial to research as Bishop attests. So, if our students do not reflect upon and articulate the politics of health: ill-health, well-being, equality and inequality, wealth and poverty ... then that professional entity will be a political ghost. A ghost playing a little game in an alien and alienating domain.
Veronica Bishop (2010) Coalition in leadership. Politics - the big picture and the big game, Journal of Research in Nursing; 15; 291.