Monica R. McLemore, PhD, MPH, RN, is a trailblazing nurse researcher in reproductive justice, birth equity, and better care for marginalized communities at the University of Washington School of Nursing.
She was given the 2023 Nurse Researcher Award by the Washington State Nurses Association and issued the following invitation in her acceptance speech on May 18, 2023.
Political will is old language for “this is someone else’s problem.” And as long as no one is responsible for it, we can spin our wheels to get nothing done while looking busy.
And many of us, me included, are done with the performative, the aspirational, and the naysayers who don’t believe this could all be different.
It’s in this context that I accept this award with three considerations:
- If we are serious about health equity, experiencing it, and achieving it, what uncomfortable conversations do we have to have to make that a reality? And who else do we need to be talking with to make transformational change happen?
- If you have been in our field for decades, or for just a short time, and perhaps are feeling disillusioned with the current state of our field, healthcare, public health, and the world, it’s about time to think about doing our work differently.
- I hope you have the courage to follow the lead Dr. (Diana) Mason and I tried to set as an example and stop trying to do things alone. Bring someone along with you.
As Congresswomen Cori Bush and Lauren Underwood, the Black nurses who are currently serving in the House of Representatives have shown, we all deserve better.
We all need to recognize the collective trauma we have all been through the past couple of years. Yet, we still need a bold and fierce agenda to support the people we serve and care for. And it’s essential and necessary to want to improve health outcomes.
So, what are you, what am I, what are we prepared to do to make that a reality?
I, personally, can no longer engage with people who limit the boundaries of what is possible. And frankly, we all need to appreciate what Arundhati Roy tried to teach us at the beginning of the pandemic. That the pandemic is a portal.
So where are we going? Everything is subject to being reimagined.
I will tell you all what I am prepared to do, and I hope you will join me. I will continue to unapologetically twist arms, push people, demand justice, publish science, do badass op-eds, and keep justice and joy alive for as long as I walk and breathe on this Earth.
I will continue to imagine new futures without being led by fear. And I hope many of you in this room will decide to join me. Nursing provides the skills and the tools to nurse the entire nation.
And we can make all this different.