Nursing is the largest healthcare profession in America, represented by over 3.1 million nurses (US Department of Labor, 2015). As nurses, we are on the frontlines in identifying diseases and illnesses and providing healthcare services to our communities. We are a force behind change. Because of our keen insight and adaptability to various situations, we play a pivotal role in coordinating healthcare teams and community events that bring awareness to rising healthcare issues and cost that can adversely affect our communities’ well being.
Today, we are faced with a new healthcare challenge, “Gun violence,” a preventable epidemic. Therefore, we are aligning ourselves with President Obama’s executive action to stop gun violence and to make our communities safe once again. We also accept the challenge given to us by Dr. Eric J. Williams, President National Black Nurses Association, stating that “it is vital that our Nation seek solutions to reduce violence, particularly gun violence.”
According to Hargarten (2016) of the Medical College of Wisconsin, “mass shootings need to be scrutinized as a public health emergency so that policy makers can better focus on controlling the epidemic of violence.” As nurses, we see the increasing occurrences of gun violence as an epidemic. Why an epidemic? An epidemic is a widespread occurrence of a disease or illness that affects or tends to affect a disproportionate number of individuals (our minority youth) at the same time (Retrieved at www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/).
No longer can we sit indolently by and watch the spread of gun violence in our community and not put forth efforts to stop it. We are encouraging nurses to let their voices be heard by taking leadership roles in political talking circles, providing caring support to victims and families of gun violence and most importantly assisting these victims to embrace healthy grieving behaviors and mental health services when needed.
As nurses, let us embrace real progress and continue to be passionate about saving lives and improving the health of our community and nursing organizations. We must rally together within our communities to stop the epidemic of gun violence.
Dr. Linda W. Brown, President