A Kumbayah Moment for Nursing

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Last week on our local public radio station, KUOW, Steve Scher aired an hour-long interview entitled “The Future of Nursing.” His guests on this edition of Weekday were Dr. Marla Salmon, Dean of the University of Washington School of Nursing; Linda Tieman, Director of the Washington Center for Nursing; and, Gladys Campbell, CEO of the Northwest Organization of Nurse Executives. All three are nurses and all obviously have powerful positions within nursing in Washington State as well as nationally.

Steve likes to be provocative (in a placid, Pacific North West sort of way—none of the BBC in-your-face style). He does like to bring in opposing viewpoints on topics and ask pointed questions. Also, generally towards the end of the program listeners can call in with questions. Some topics lend themselves to this format better than others. For instance, on the mornings immediately before and after “The Future of Nursing” Steve had as topics “Osama Bin Laden: The Strategist” with Michael Scheuer from Georgetown University as a guest, and “The Raw Food Movement” with nutritionists from Bastyr University, as well as a raw foods restaurant chef as guests. Unfortunately, both of those topics were a lot more interesting to listen to than was the nursing show.

What went wrong? Here was a moment for nursing to be portrayed in a positive light by the local popular press. Here was the Institute of Medicine’s “Future of Nursing” report used as the title of the show. And that report is an excellent one with many provocative recommendations. It wasn’t a problem of Steve not having done his homework. He had at least read the condensed version or executive summary, and he asked good questions:  “Are there any nurse-run clinics in Washington State I could go to as a patient?” and “What are the different paths to becoming a nurse?” and my personal favorite, “Do doctors and nurses get along well?” The panelists’ answers to Steve’s questions were nonspecific, with some clearly oft-rehearsed canned responses that Steve even called them on once with “You’ve practiced that, right?” He also called them on their watered down responses to his doctor/nurse relationship question by stating, “So this is really a kumbayah moment.”

There were no call-in questions on “The Future of Nursing” Weekday show. I think no one was listening anymore.

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