The Dean’s Desk | Thoughts from Rutgers Nursing Leadership
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
William L. Holzemer, RN, PhD, FAAN
Rutgers University School of Nursing
Perhaps learning how to manage life’s situations comes from a greater understanding of people and how they are affected and how they are feeling. If so, I believe we learned a great deal about the American people from the recent Presidential election.
The results were a shock to everyone – all parties I believe. Untold numbers of people’s lives changed that long night. The disbelief and joy were contrasting dimensions of a country in great turmoil and transition. It appears that there are very few rules left – e.g. witness the recent phone call with Taiwan’s leader. Perhaps four billion dollars is too much to pay for two Air Force One airplanes, but announcing your opinion on Twitter challenges all our established processes for doing business.
In the spirit of honesty and disclosure, I supported Hillary Clinton eight years ago when she ran against Barack Obama. I was devastated by this November’s results. Now what? As we watch candidates being named for cabinet positions with absolutely no experience in their selected area there is an occasional bright, positive moment where we say, “That is not so bad,” or “I can live with that.” Are we learning to compromise or just to be realistic?
How do we move forward with a constructive strategy grounded in our values and principles? Perhaps for a starter, we may have to face the fact that we do not have agreement on the values and principles that should guide our government’s actions. There have been some interesting programs on public radio about the movement to rebuild neighborhoods and the simple gentle acts of kindness such as getting to know your neighbors by name and checking occasionally to see if they are ok. Starting locally, with actions within our capacity to deliver, may be a healthy way to begin this transition.
We are challenged now at the most fundamental levels on topics such as the role of conflicts of interest in our government that could dramatically impact some folks, women’s right to choose, privatization of Medicare, destruction of the Affordable Care Act, lack of belief in the value of science, the belief that reading and understanding the issues are not important, lack of respect of others, the ability to adjust the stock market with a brief tweet. Add your own list and be completely challenged as to how we will work together to build a future.
We know that a significant component of our population is disaffected, as evidenced by the Black Lives Matter campaign. We have watched workers lose their pensions and employment after decades of contributions to companies. And now, we have a majority of voters disenfranchised and discouraged by the potential of our country’s future under the President-elect. We have wrapped the dismay and malaise around all segments of our communities.
How will America’s general malaise impact health-seeking behavior? How will this malaise impact health care workers whose values may be in more direct conflict with the systems of care where they work? How will this malaise impact the millennial generation of students who are already somewhat disconnected from traditional structures and how are they building and creating their own?
The role of global leadership of countries has definitely changed over time and we are living, I believe, in a time the United States of America will begin to define itself differently from where it has been. We can see and have some understanding and perhaps appreciation for the past, but I believe we have no clue as to where the future is moving.