The Birth of a Nurse Radical


by Melissa Brown RN

So it’s the New Year, and something is on my heart.

We all talk about radicalization. How does it happen? What causes it? How does a “normal” person become radicalized?

I’m not talking about radical terrorism here. I’m talking about the radicalization of health care professionals, especially nurses.

While interacting on a post on the Show Me Your Stethoscope Facebook page this morning, I recalled the personal incident that started my drift into “radicalization.” I remembered the incident that led to my becoming a nurse who would no longer stand for unfairness within our profession, our personal lives or the lives of our patients.

The incident, you ask? I had a mastectomy in January, 1996. Although immediate reconstruction is now the norm, my insurer would not approve it at that time. Although my physician and I continued to lobby the insurance company to approve this surgery (TRAM flap reconstruction) for nearly three months,  the answer was always “we are still considering it.”

By the end of March, 1996, I was fed up with calling the insurer every day in an effort to obtain approval. I finally decided to take the the sort of direct action touted by activists and other radical types:  A sit-in!

The next morning at 9 am, I was at the corporate office of my insurer. Politely, I asked to speak with the medical director. Naturally, I was told he was out of the building. I told the receptionist I would wait until he returned. She then told me (gee, whiz!) that he may not be in that day at all. I told her that was okay, but I would still wait.

And wait I did, as others came and went. I had brought my lunch in a paper bag, so I had a cheerful noon repast as others watched in confusion and amusement.

I waited until 5  pm. As the receptionist was closing the office, I smiled and told her I would be back at 9 am the next morning to wait yet again for the medical director to arrive.

At 8 am sharp the next morning, as I was preparing to go to the corporate office for another sit-in, I received a phone call from the insurer. My surgery had magically been approved!

Something sparked inside my heart that morning. It became clear to me that perseverance and direct action could change not only my life  but also the lives of others.

On that day in late March, 1996, I became a fighter, a “radical” nurse. Over the next 20 years, that spark became an inferno. Although I am now retired, I still fight harder than ever before on behalf of nurses and nursing.

It’s past time nurses recognize and act on their personal and collective power. We are a force that cannot be ignored any longer.

#GuerrillaNurse  #SMYSoffical  #NursesUnite  #NursesTakeDC


3 thoughts on “The Birth of a Nurse Radical

  1. When a nurse finds out by the Board filing nonsense B S, coming into her world and causing problems that didnt need to be, and that nurse really delves into what is behind this, and who are the people responsible and who is suppose to police them and that nurses does their homework and then passes it along to other nurses, and EXPOSES them and their pattern of corruption, that is a sweet deal, full circle , back at ya . AZBOARDOFNURSINGWATCHDOGS

    Any nurse who thinks posting things will only be to your dismay, is NOT someone I want on my team. I want a backbone kind of nurse who will stand up and not put on with B S, who will say hey this isnnt right. AND then for those nurses who think they know, how the AZ BON is run, even though they have never had a complaint, but have been a nurse for 20 years, and say stupid things like “the bd could never put those comments on the internet if not true” well, you poor thing, please educate yourself , please think before you talk and stop eating your peers , sucking up to mgrs who don’t give a flip about you. And a bd who cares even less, they are just there to get a paycheck and retirement.


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