I am a dues paying, but not very active ANA member and my renewal right now sits on my bill pile. Sooner or later I will suck up the bucks and send them in because ANA is the only general nursing representative. It is disappointing to me that ANA doesn't represent 40 or even 50 percent of nursing but it is not going to for a variety of reasons. Some nurses will put their money and their time into specialty nursing organizations (ACCN, ENA). Some nurses are in it to make a living and raise their families and they see those dues as one more expense they don't need. They may also see political issues as far removed from them. This laid back attitude has always diluted the potential strength of nursing. Some nurses adamantly oppose the ANA, as we have seen here. But, Wildtime, I cannot accept your theses that a nursing organization that doesn't represent a majority of nurses is not authentic. Should we wait to be "authentic" to have a voice? *peep* Would a fledgling organization that you would start have an authentic voice? Should it wait to have one before it speaks?
Organization change can occur from forces without or within. I hope dissenters can tell me that they have been within before they bash. ANA's not perfect. Though ANA has long worn the mantle of union and professional organization, more nurses than ever are wanting true union representation and so that has been a new role for them to adapt. When I saw notices that even in house docs are looking into union organization, I knew we were at the doorway of a new era. Sounds like CNA's problems are related to growing pains and ALL organizations have growing pains.
I think dissent has some responsibilities. You know, Wildtime, you are the person that made the claim that ANA spends irresponsibly. Go support your claim. As a lukewarm ANA member, I have never particularly questioned their expenditures and like most ANA posters, I see balance statements and such all of the time. As a CM, I called my ANA state level staff and got information, in a few minutes conversation, that helped one of my clients and it was because Teri knew systems, who to talk to, what phrases to use to maximize impact. I got bang for my buck from an ANA staffer that has actually spread out and impacted other CM kids that my group served. Some might have said that the networking we pay Teri to do is wasted, is silly but it turned into a care level decision for me. I've also called Teri and gotten information from her mouth that I didn't like. That's pretty real life, too. This woman doesn't know me from beans but she takes my calls because _I am a nurse_. They don't even ask if I am a dues paying member.
BTW, I think ANA did (and maybe belatedly) pick up the issue of the bedside nursing patient to staff ratio issue the first and brought it to the forefront. Do you remember their pamphlet years ago which asked patients if they had a nurse at their bedside? That was the beginning of a media campaign that started to raise consumer awareness. You may notice that the problem persists. Many difficult issues persist and evolve over decades (witness the entry into practice issue). If you were waiting for Beverly Malone in a Fairy Godmother costume to wave her wand and erase the bedside care issue, then it's not a surprise that you're disappointed. This is a deeply ingrained and difficult problem to solve and it will take persistence and micro victories. Indeed ANA like organizations can be like "Mating Elephants" (takes place at a high level, accompanied by a lot of noise, takes two years to get any results). This will be true if the micro-victories occur because of ANA or the Wildtime Radical Nursing Organization (or even those two organizations in conjunction).
I appreciate Karen's synopsis of our history here because knowing where we came from often tells us why we are going where we are going. In the here and now, nurses need some voice and they even need dissenters. Wildtime, if you use your energy in a constructive fashion, in 20 years every nurse will know your real name. Do it within or without of ANA. I believe you advocate a work slow down? Go ahead organize. Do it. But don't be surprised if you find yourself suffering from some of the same organizational problems as ANA (like calling for dues that some think are excessive). It's always an individual surprise when "they" and "those people" becomes "me". Complaining and identifying problems that are or are not ours to solve may be the easiest part of the process. The real work comes with rolling up your sleeves, identifying the solutions, and staying with the process. ANA has been willing to continue to ride problems. I appreciate that and it is one of the reasons I send them my money, year after year. Also, like it or not, ANA does things for you, Wildtime, that you have benefitted from without a penny expenditure on your part. I'm glad that their lobbyist watches along side the Board of Nursing's when ever someone wants to dink with the nurse practice act. I'm glad some ANA lobbyist is tapping legislators on the shoulder and talking to them about student loans for new nurses. Some of these folks may come along and share the burden where you work. I'm glad that ANA was the vocal voice against Patient Care Associates displacing nurses. I'm glad that ANA lobbied for research dollars to document the state of bedside nursing because that is a language some folks talk.
Wildtime and friends, it is not that dissent cannot be spoken but please, please let's have some gentility. And let go of the notion that these solutions are simple or that change should occur because it is best or right. Fundamentally, we agree, but that is fairyland thinking. Expect the process to be imperfect. Life is imperfect. Engage yourself in life and celebrate the process. I worry that the anger and cynicism of some posters on this board will consume them.
Many of the pro-ANA forces here have felt anger and turned their anger into action. Not the fist-slamming action of the rude comment, but the thoughtful dialogue. As I frequently say to my 9 year old son, "When you are shouting at me, all I hear is adrenalin." Work through ANA, another organization, one of your own creating but work toward change. You know fundamentally we all agree on that: There's gotta be some change here, for our patients and for us.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change those I can and Wisdom to know the difference.