Thursday, March 10, 2016

I “stepped up” not “down”

I was asked recently to discuss the process and strategies I used to reinvent myself after I “stepped up” from deanship. The question took me by surprise and gave me pause to think about the question more than the answer. I think of reinvention as entailing redefining of identity and as developing a brand new identity which is separate and different from previous identities. I did not think that I am reinventing myself, rather I think of my stepping up from deanship as moving forward and upward to a new phase in my life. I took with me all of the skills and strategies that I gained during my previous phases (over 50 years), honored them, honed them, used them and built on them. 

As I continued to exercise and sharpen these accumulated skills, I also integrated and developed new skills and articulated new goals, just as I did continuously during my many former phases and years. This reinvention question forced me to think of the strategies I used in the transition to reclaim and integrate who I am rather than reinvent a new identity. I redefined my scholarly roles and reintegrated all the wisdom I gained into the reclaimed identity and articulated a new set of goals for the future. As I reflect on this transition, I realize I used 4 strategies during the stepping up process:

1. Defined the skills and the capacities that I enjoyed the most, including:

  • Giving voice to vulnerable populations through science, education, writing and empowerment, as well as through participation.
  • Empowering a new generation of scholars, mentees, deans and women through transition of knowledge for voice and policy.

2.  Renewed, reinforced and mobilized a supportive network of colleagues, friends and family for the transition process and beyond.

3.  Decluttered, archived and distanced myself from the trappings of former roles (relationships, papers, objects, etc.).

4.  Continued my vigorous physical (gym and walking) and mental health (meditation and mindfulness) exercises. 

The above strategies prompted fluidity in identity and encouraged integrating capacities from former roles into a reclaimed and integrated identity. These strategies also helped in developing new sets of goals that included reflecting on the global progress in our discipline of nursing and on changes in the health and health care for women. These new goals included that I disseminate and share integrated analysis publications, speaking engagements and translations into practice. 

I believe I have “stepped up” to a new phase using a more focused and integrated voice, and I am more than certain that I did not “step down.”


Meleis, A. I. (2016). The Undeaning Transition: Toward Becoming a Former Dean. Nursing Outlook. 64 (2), 186-196

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Global Nursing Challenges - Innovative Solutions

I was asked recently to reflect on my sabbatical leave explorations and findings related to the global challenges facing the discipline of nursing, as well as signs of progress in the discipline. In a nutshell, nurses are positioned to making major contributions to universal health care and to increasing access of populations’ to quality care. Nonetheless, nurses globally continue to face major challenges that constrain their abilities to exercise their voice and function up to their full capacities and expertise. No surprise there!

It will also come as no surprise that there is a global shortage of nurses, a maldistribution of nurses, a high attrition of nurses, as well as gaps in educating and training health care professionals to meet the changing needs of societies, with the increase in the aged and very old populations worsened by the epidemic of non-communicable diseases, and the shift from hospital care to community based care. There is a global need to transform the education and the practices of members of the different health professions and to prepare them to confront these needs.

However, the more fundamental issues that are not as well recognized and addressed are the inequities in nurses’ compensation, the devaluation of their contributions and the structurally limited opportunities for educational and career advancements. Less discussed, but well perceived and recognized, is the fundamental power differential and the privileged status of the medical profession as well as the support and benefits given to physicians over nurses. In searching for solutions addressing inequity and devaluation that nurses face in health care systems globally, simply increasing the number of nurses will not solve the problem if fundamental inequities and challenges are not addressed.

Global thought leaders in nursing have given energy to articulating some solutions. It is the wisdom of many colleagues that I offer here on their behalf.

  • Provide financial and human resources’ support for nurses’ professional and advanced education.
  • Develop and facilitate career ladders that acknowledge and value practice expertise.
  • Insure a place for nurses on any and all boards that deal with health care (hospital, community, government, local, regional, global, etc.).
  • Ministries of health should include equal voices for members of all the health care professions at all policy and decision making levels.
  • Educate health professionals interprofessionally, educate health professionals for team work and educate health professionals for leadership.
  • Empower nursing organizations and support their policy initiatives and representatives.
  • Work with social and entertainment media outlets on developing and implementing strategies to enhance the image and status of nursing.
  • Connect academic and clinical education, with faculty role modeling clinical expertise and students experiencing clinical systems at all levels.
  • Address abrogations in gender and professional equities and in the rights of populations for health care and nurses to provide quality evidence based care.
  • Facilitate partnerships with communities and between organizations.
  • Develop and support scholarship to innovatively address patient, family and community care challenges.
  • Eliminate trivialization of research geared toward quality of life for providers and recipients of health care.
  • Provide and facilitate opportunities for interprofessional partnership locally and globally.

And yes, while there is much nurses can learn from each other globally, it is believed that the more economically capable countries can and should facilitate the implementation of the recommendations listed above.

In my next blog I will discuss the many signs of global progress in and about nursing.