1. Olson, DaiWai M.

Article Content

There are certain topics that we pretend are taboo. The big 3, of course, are sex, religion, and politics. We were taught from a young age that we should never talk about these topics. They are particularly taboo and must be avoided at all costs. The second category of taboo topics are those that should be avoided except under certain circumstances: death, dying, dreams, and ambitions. For nurses, the third taboo topic is even more personal and summed up in 4 simple words: "What do you think?"

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As a nurse, it is hard to avoid talking about sex, religion, or politics. Almost every patient I have taken care of has had, or will have, sex. Patients who have had a stroke are known to ask about their sexual future, and so, nurses have learned to be comfortable talking about sex. Discussions of religion are even more common. Most nurses consider it of high importance to address their patients' spiritual needs during the admission process. Furthermore, even before the widening divide of the past few years, politics has influenced health care. Nursing affects, and is affected by, politics. Across the globe, nurses freely discuss the ramifications of political policy changes on healthcare.


Nurses also openly deal with death, dying, and dreams, every day. We have acquired the skills to expertly discuss these topics with patients and family members. We do not shy from the patient facing his or her own mortality who asks us to talk about end-of-life care. Nor do we back away from the quadriplegic patient who wants to share his or her dream of living independently. From these many conversations, we seek to find commonalities, wisdom, and interventions. So much so, that we publish reams of manuscripts that advance nursing science through qualitative and quantitative research.


Where we fall flat, where we fail, and where we really need to change, is sharing what we think. Granted, behind closed doors, nurses do not hesitate to share their opinions. In the breakroom at lunch, at the nurses' station at 3:00 AM, and walking out the door after a hard shift, it is not uncommon to hear "...well, I think...." There is no doubt that we are willing to share our thoughts freely with close colleagues. However, this willingness extends only to a small circle of friends. Perhaps, this is because we have been taught to keep our thoughts to ourselves.


Going through nursing school in 1983, I can recall my instructor admonishing me to "respect the doctor." What she really meant was "keep quiet, your opinion does not matter." The biased idea that nurses (generally women) should be seen and not heard is not new now and was not new then. It is all too easy to picture a nurse biting her tongue as a physician rants about what he or she thinks should be done. This has to change. Nurses have important ideas to share, and the world would be a better place if these ideas were heard.


The Journal of Neuroscience Nursing aims to promote open dialogue. What you think is important. Share your knowledge and ideas. Come out from behind closed doors and tell the world what you think. Write an article. Write a Letter to the Editor. Write your reflections. Share your insight and improve our practice.

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