Suzanne Gordon

Disclosures

Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2006;6(1) 

In This Article

A Vow of Silence?

Several weeks ago, I was invited to speak to a group of undergraduate students who had been asked to read my new book, Nursing Against the Odds, for their history of science class at Harvard University. During the hour-and-a-half discussion, one question that kept popping up was: "What do nurses really do?" As I left the room, I pondered, as I often do, why the public has so little understanding of the consequential nature of nursing practice. Clearly, it's because of traditional stereotypes about nursing. But it's also because nurses have been socialized to be silent about their work or to talk about it in ways that fail to reverse these traditional stereotypes.

When I ask nurses to describe their work, many respond: "Oh it's too hard to talk about. It's too diffuse, too vague, too indefinable." But I have written thousands of pages about nursing and I am not a writer of fiction. I've been able to write about nursing because I've observed nurses at work and asked them a lot of questions about their practice.

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