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Nurses Furious As Dentist to Lead Nursing Research Institute

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J.Adderton has 26 years experience as a BSN, MSN .

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Appointment Reinforces the Undervaluing of Nurses

The National Institute of Health has appointed a dentist and biologist to head up the largest U.S. nursing research institute.  Nurses are furious over the message being sent and the impact on our already undervalued profession. Keep reading to learn more about this controversial decision.

Nurses Furious As Dentist to Lead Nursing Research Institute

A dentist, Lawrence Tabak, DDS, PhD, has been appointed interim director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR).  The dentist previously served as the National Institutes of Health’s principal deputy director. On October 1st, he will assume the helm of the federal research organization, currently held by Ann Cashion, RN.  Tara Schwartz PhD, a biologist, will fill the position of deputy director.

 Facing backlash from nurses, NIH added a job listing encouraging qualified nurses to apply for the director position the same day Business Insider reported the interim appointment.  The job will remain posted until November 18, 2019 and you can check out the details here.

The NINR’s Mission

The NINR is one of the 27 institutes making up the National Institutes of Health.  It is also the country’s largest federal nursing research institute. According to their mission statement, NINR “seeks to extend nursing science by integrating the biological and behavioral sciences, employing new technologies to research questions, improving research methods and developing scientists of the future”.  The institute’s research encompasses health promotion and disease prevention, quality of life, health disparities and end-of-life.

Failed to Find a Suitable Person?

An NIH representative provided Business Insider the following statement:

Quote

“NIH has every intention of filling the director position of the National Institute of Nursing Research with a highly qualified leader in nursing research.  Earlier this year, NIH conducted a nationwide search that unfortunately failed to identify a suitable person to fill this important role.”  

Reporting the inability to identify a qualified doctorate prepared leader in nursing research is a difficult pill to swallow for many.  According to the September 13th job posting, the NIH is “looking for applicants with a commitment to scientific excellence and the energy, enthusiasm and innovative thinking necessary to lead a dynamic and diverse organization”.  The nursing profession has an abundance of nurses that spent years obtaining doctorate degrees and go on to pursue research that would strengthen and support NINR’s mission.

What Message is Being Sent?

Nursing organizations across the country argue that a nurse is more qualified than non-nurses to evaluate grants for nursing research.  The appointment of a non-nurse has evoked anger among nurses who fear it damages the public’s perception of the profession. Also, the decision may send the message that qualified nurse researchers aren’t valued as educated science professionals.

Enforcing Negative Stereotypes

The nursing profession is currently plagued by negative stereotypes.  This includes the perception of servitude and is reinforced with heavy workloads, poor and stressful working environments and lack of professional gratification. The healthcare environment lacks respect for nurses, often undervaluing their skills and contributions.  But, nurses are found in other professional roles, such as administrators, nurse practitioners, educators and researchers.   It is worrisome that the appointment of a dentist to lead the NINR reinforces negative stereotypes that are already a burden to the nursing profession.

The Truth About Nursing has created a petition asking the NIH to recall the appointments of both Dr. Tabak and Dr. Swartz.  You can access the petition here.

What are your thoughts?

Do you think a nurse should hold the NINR director position?

Let us hear from you!


Additional Resources

Business Insider Article- Nurses Criticize Move to Appoint Dentist to Head NINR

J. Adderton MSN has over 20 years experience in clinical leadership, staff development, project management and nursing education.

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AnnieNP has 20 years experience as a MSN, NP and specializes in Adult Primary Care.

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Absolutely a nurse should hold that position.

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juan de la cruz has 27 years experience as a MSN, RN, NP and specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care.

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"NIH conducted a nationwide search that unfortunately failed to identify a suitable person to fill this important role"...I call BS on that statement. Only a nurse should ever fill the NINR director role and I'm glad a new search has begun with a deadline for Nov 18. This misstep must be undone.

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TriciaJ has 38 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

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We're all too stupid to lead our own research institute?  Then why would we even need to have one?

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fibroblast has 5 years experience.

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11 hours ago, J.Adderton said:
Nurses Furious As Dentist to Lead Nursing Research Institute

A dentist, Lawrence Tabak, DDS, PhD, has been appointed interim director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR).  The dentist previously served as the National Institutes of Health’s principal deputy director. On October 1st, he will assume the helm of the federal research organization, currently held by Ann Cashion, RN.  Tara Schwartz PhD, a biologist, will fill the position of deputy director.

 Facing backlash from nurses, NIH added a job listing encouraging qualified nurses to apply for the director position the same day Business Insider reported the interim appointment.  The job will remain posted until November 18, 2019 and you can check out the details here.

 

Failed to Find a Suitable Person?

An NIH representative provided Business Insider the following statement:

Reporting the inability to identify a qualified doctorate prepared leader in nursing research is a difficult pill to swallow for many.  According to the September 13th job posting, the NIH is “looking for applicants with a commitment to scientific excellence and the energy, enthusiasm and innovative thinking necessary to lead a dynamic and diverse organization”.  The nursing profession has an abundance of nurses that spent years obtaining doctorate degrees and go on to pursue research that would strengthen and support NINR’s mission.

What Message is Being Sent?

Nursing organizations across the country argue that a nurse is more qualified than non-nurses to evaluate grants for nursing research.  The appointment of a non-nurse has evoked anger among nurses who fear it damages the public’s perception of the profession. Also, the decision may send the message that qualified nurse researchers aren’t valued as educated science professionals.

The nursing profession is currently plagued by negative stereotypes.  This includes the perception of servitude and is reinforced with heavy workloads, poor and stressful working environments 

The reason why there is heavy workloads and poor staffing is because it's predominately women. They take advantage of women until they can't do any more. 

I really fail to see who is 'furious'. Maybe those who applied for the job and didn't get it, but one nurse can't speak for all. To me it doesn't matter if a 'non-nurse' holds the position. It is who's qualified. 

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12 Posts; 362 Profile Views

Fibroblast - How can a non-nurse meet the basic qualifications of this job? And if one of the basic requirements isn’t holding a nursing license then that may need to be the first item rectified in all of this.

 

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CastiMcNasti specializes in Exercise and Wellness.

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I do not know what qualifications the NIH is requiring for such a position, but I imagine the bar must be set high. Just because there are many nurses who are in the research field does not necessarily mean they all meet the criteria to be director of NINR. I would give the NIH the benefit of the doubt and believe they did look for a suitable replacement. Perhaps they found qualified individuals, but those individuals did not want the position. I do believe a nurse should be appointed to head the NINR, but finding someone to fill a position like this cannot be easy. I would also like to point out Dr. Tabak’s position is as interim. So, it isn’t meant to be a permanent appointment.

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Are any of the “furious” nurses furious that their CFO, COO, or CEO are not nurses? In most HCO’s the CNO/DON has very little influence related to operations and they answer to a non-nursing ELT.. which can be entirely non-clinical. 

 Hate to break it to you all, but there’s a good reason for this. Most nursing leadership folks have masters degrees in nursing, that means that nine  of their advanced degree classes are just advanced nursing, and the last 3-4 classes define their area of major. 

 Conversely, a COO, CFO, or CEO usually will have a graduate level business degree, an accounting background, and proven business acumen. An MSN or nursing PhD regardless of major proves “in theory” you can do good “nursing” not run businesses. DO NOT confuse advanced degrees in nursing with operational ability or understanding.... I think we can all agree nursing generally has very poor outcomes managing their own, yet then nurses get “furious” when they are overlooked for an operational role they do not have the required tools to be successful in.

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kbrn2002 has 25 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in Geriatrics.

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12 hours ago, fibroblast said:

The reason why there is heavy workloads and poor staffing is because it's predominately women. They take advantage of women until they can't do any more. 

I really fail to see who is 'furious'. Maybe those who applied for the job and didn't get it, but one nurse can't speak for all. To me it doesn't matter if a 'non-nurse' holds the position. It is who's qualified. 

I'm sorry but I fail to see how a dentist can possibly be more qualified to lead a nursing research firm than a nurse.  I also call BS on their claims of failure to find a qualified nurse applicant.  They sure couldn't have been looking very hard. 

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DowntheRiver has 5 years experience and specializes in Urgent Care, Oncology.

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On 9/21/2019 at 2:16 PM, Secretperson said:

 Hate to break it to you all, but there’s a good reason for this. Most nursing leadership folks have masters degrees in nursing, that means that nine  of their advanced degree classes are just advanced nursing, and the last 3-4 classes define their area of major. 

 

I'm confused by your comment. What do you mean advanced nursing vs. definition of major? 

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Hello,

I went to nursing school 34 years ago and a PhD scientist was a classmate. He was involved with nursing research at another university and wanted to better understand his work and our profession from the research perspective.

If the dentist or biologist has at least completed an RN's education and training, I would consider him/her for the director's position, but not otherwise. It's not possible for people to recognize the nuances in nursing and apply them to research if they do not understand our work.

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NutmeggeRN has 25 years experience as a BSN and specializes in kids.

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On 9/21/2019 at 2:16 PM, Secretperson said:

Are any of the “furious” nurses furious that their CFO, COO, or CEO are not nurses? In most HCO’s the CNO/DON has very little influence related to operations and they answer to a non-nursing ELT.. which can be entirely non-clinical. 

 Hate to break it to you all, but there’s a good reason for this. Most nursing leadership folks have masters degrees in nursing, that means that nine  of their advanced degree classes are just advanced nursing, and the last 3-4 classes define their area of major. 

 Conversely, a COO, CFO, or CEO usually will have a graduate level business degree, an accounting background, and proven business acumen. An MSN or nursing PhD regardless of major proves “in theory” you can do good “nursing” not run businesses. DO NOT confuse advanced degrees in nursing with operational ability or understanding.... I think we can all agree nursing generally has very poor outcomes managing their own, yet then nurses get “furious” when they are overlooked for an operational role they do not have the required tools to be successful in.

I disagree. There are many nurse executives who could very capably fill this role. Many who have pursued advanced degrees. At the NASN (National Association of School Nurses) conference this past year, there was a plethora of highly educated, multiple degree nurses who would be more than capable. And that is in just one specialty. Imagine the numbers in ALL the nursing specialties.

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