NLN Challenges Nursing Schools Nationwide

By Haydon, Kevin | Nursing and Health Care Perspectives, July-August 1997 | Go to article overview

NLN Challenges Nursing Schools Nationwide


Haydon, Kevin, Nursing and Health Care Perspectives


Dr. Sheila Ryan, immediate past-president of the National League for Nursing, used the occasion of her opening presidential address at the League's 23rd biennial convention to summon the nation's more than 1,600 nursing programs to each identify and educate, annually, a single parent on public assistance, preparing them to work in community health.

In a speech that called the conference together under the theme, "A Celebration of Learning," Ryan spoke of the special calling of the nurse educator and how appropriate it was that the profession should take up the challenge to be a part of the welfare-to-work solution and help solve a pressing social problem.

"This room is filled with teachers and nurses who have worked hard to expose the natural and unique beauty hidden deep within others," stated Ryan. "It takes the sculptor who is within each of us to envision what could be for each student, or patient, or client, instead of what is, to unveil the unseen light burning with possibility in generations of students. To see the potential in each student, to kindle that ember, to fan the tiniest flame so that each may go forth with new light, new hope for possibility -- I believe that this is what we mean when we talk about `celebrating learning.'"

Ryan then asked the participants to stretch themselves to also consider those whose "light" cannot be seen because of their lack of access and opportunity for education.

According to Ryan, there are many compelling reasons why the NLN is encouraging the nursing profession to lead the charge among the health care professions to embrace an initiative that helps those in this predicament.

"Nursing has experienced firsthand the negative health consequences resulting from poverty and marginalized populations. Simply putting single welfare parents to work in low-wage jobs without adequate supports may compromise the health of children in vulnerable families and perpetuate a cycle of dependence on entitlement programs. On the other hand," said Ryan, "providing nursing education to interested single parents on welfare produces an array of benefits. It would lead to credible employment and productive citizenry for the parents, economic stability for the family, and health benefits for the children."

"We know that education is the route out of poverty, that education is the means to improved health, and that every educated nurse has a ripple effect on the community."

Outstanding Portland Nurse Practitioner Inspired Program

The inspiration for the NLN Challenge comes from among nursing's own. During her opening address, Dr. Ryan presented a special NLN President's Award to Mariah Taylor, an outstanding Portland health professional, and a former welfare recipient.

As a single mother of three, Ms. Taylor, MA, RN, CPNP, worked her way through graduate school in nursing. Then in 1980, she founded the North Portland Nurse Practitioner Community Health Clinic. Often referred to as "The Clinic of Last Resort," the health center annually serves about 2,000 largely uninsured and poor patients, from birth to 21 years of age. …

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