Health, Well-Being and Social Justice at the Center of Nurse Leadership


As nurse leaders, it is easy to become lost in the forest of process, operations, regulations, and metrics and to lose sight of why and for whom we walk the walk in the first place. Let us always keep the faces of the needy, the vulnerable, and the sick at the forefront of all we do. Let our actions reflect their needs – and let us be guided by our deep conviction for health, well-being, and social justice. That is nursing and that is what we must stay committed to.

A colleague recently asked me about a potential direction for nursing research. My response was “Can you articulate this research directly within the metaparadigm of nursing? If yes, go for it. If not, think long and hard before leaping in the name of nursing.” The same is true as we become strong partners and leaders in healthcare transformation. Are our actions, initiatives, and partnerships articulated within the metaparadigm of nursing – nurse, environment, person, health – or have these activities strayed insidiously to support other agendas? While I do believe nursing must continue to evolve and respond to arising needs, new technologies, and also to make way for new partners, the core of our professional practice must rest on the commitments to health, well-being and social justice.

Leadership requires us to question assumptions, analyze direction and goals, and critically assess strategies. If our actions are based on misaligned assumptions, we risk straying from the core endeavor of nursing. No organizational hierarchy, research agenda, fiscal goals, or ill-advised initiatives should pull us from our core values and commitment as nurses. Leadership is just that – leadership; not followership. As a nurse leader colleague once said to me, “Sometimes you just need to get it done and say afterward, ‘Yeh, I happen to be a nurse’.”

Marching on as leaders in healthcare transformation, I hope we keep the needy, the vulnerable, and the sick at the forefront of our decisions and actions. I hope we lead by our commitment to health, well-being, and social justice. And I hope we always situate our leadership decisions within the metaparadigm of nursing.


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