Transforming Nurses' Stress and Anger: Steps toward Healing

By Sandra P. Thomas | Go to book overview

10

Taking a New Stance
Toward the Concept
of Power

Personal power is a flame within me that I have to follow to be me.
It looks like a tiny flame that could be easily blown out but really it’s
one of those perpetual lights. I can go off and leave it or give some
of it to others and feel confident that it won’t go out. In fact, the more
I give my flame to others, the brighter my flume gets, until I don’t
have to worry about its going out at all. It comes from inside of me
but it’s brightened by others so that I can proudly say, “Look, this is
my flame” and I can follow it. All of my important life decisions are
made by the light of this flame. It’s the light of integrity, of being true
to myself.

—Stratman, 1990

For a long time now I have been using the word empowerment in my speeches and workshops. The term is used in different ways in the hundreds of papers on the topic. Let me explain what I mean by it. I define empowerment as the enhanced ability to take action and resolve problems. Empowerment theory and praxis have roots in feminist scholarship, adult education techniques, and community and political organization methods (Gutierrez, 1990). Self-empowerment, which this book is designed to facilitate, means having the power to influence and control one’s own life (Heide, 1988). Beyond controlling their own lives, however, nurses must become empowered to make a greater impact on institutional and health care policies. Too many nurses remain marginalized or silenced, chafing at shortsighted policies, but excluded from the decision-making circle. Davies (1995) contends that nurses are usually excluded from policy debates because they are considered “incom

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