1. Newland, Jamesetta RN, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, FNAP

Article Content

2008 has been an exciting year in the political arena, and thus, in the lives of the American people. I took a chance and wrote this editorial before the Presidential election. In my gut, I knew I had to get out my thoughts no matter the outcome. I never imagined that in my lifetime I would witness an African-American secure a major political party's nomination for the highest office in the land and then, actually win.

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

Words cannot adequately express the emotions I and many others are feeling with the election of Senator Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. His election is a call for change, as his campaign motto proclaimed.


A look back in time

Anyone who was around in 1968 will remember the tumultuous times immediately following the assassinations of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, two strong proponents of equal rights for every American.


Dr. King's 1963 speech during the march on Washington has been famously titled, I Have a Dream. In one line he expressed the hope that persons would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. President-Elect Obama has frequently been compared to Dr. King in several respects: for his intelligence, for his oratory skill, for his inner calm, and for his undeniable presence. Even today, Dr. King's dream has not become a reality; subtle and sometimes open expressions of prejudice and racism still permeate our daily existence. But throughout the last months of the campaign when some would attempt to signify the worst of human character, we were reminded to acknowledge our differences, celebrate our similarities, and find common ground.


A leap into the future

The political and economic upheavals of 2008 affected most of us in one way or another. First there were many, then three, and finally two candidates running for President. The skyrocketing costs for gas, food, and healthcare, and the unstable state of personal and national financial security forced Americans across the country to change consumption and spending habits. Few have escaped; the time for change is now. My message last December encouraged readers to carefully and critically listen to the platforms of the Presidential candidates so that each vote represented the decision of an informed citizen. The indecision has come to a halt, even if only temporarily; we are in the middle of another moment in history. I again remember Dr. King's words.


How does one continue in the struggle when times are tough? I also recall the words of the poet Langston Hughes: "Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly; Hold fast to dreams for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow."


News for nurses

The election means something to us professionally as well. President-Elect Obama has always been a strong supporter of nurses and nursing since he began his service in Illinois, opposing mandatory overtime, ensuring safe and adequate staffing levels, protecting nurses' labor rights, bringing more Americans into the nursing profession, and implementing technological devices to improve nurse safety. In addition, he supports reauthorization of Title VIII training programs with greater financial incentives for students and nurse faculty, including scholarships and loan repayment.


Recently, the American Nurses Association distributed a press release congratulating President-Elect Obama on his victory and expressing a desire to work together with the new administration to affect positive changes for nurses and patients.


As healthcare providers, we are intimately involved with and will be affected by the change that is before us. Here's to a healthy and productive 2009!!


Jamesetta Newland, RN, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, FNAP