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Nurses’ Strength and Responsibilities: Parting Words from ONA’s Former Executive Director Susan King

In 1971, I joined the nursing profession and the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA). During one of my final classes in the University of Oregon’s BSN program, a representative of ONA came and talked with us about the work ONA was doing on behalf of nurses and nursing and our role in that work. I learned early that in order to accomplish big goals, nurses—just like other groups in history—must work collectively on problems and issues. That presentation hit home with me and was the beginning of my activism in my clinical practice and in ONA.

Over these last 46 years I have seen nursing’s influence grow. We have made great progress when we pull together and focus on what will strengthen our profession and benefit the patients we serve.

And that brings me to the main point I want to make as I leave the executive director position at ONA. Our organization does not exist for itself. We have a responsibility to our patients and communities to act ethically on their behalf. We have a responsibility to use our strength and our programs to make our profession better and make the lives of our patients better as well. We have a responsibility to our Code of Ethics as the guiding principles of our work.

While I am very proud of ONA’s programs, each of them is a tool or a means to an end. While achieving a major victory in Salem is certainly gratifying and represents the skillful use of our knowledge, reputation and numbers, it is the effect of that legislation that must be celebrated. A strong collective bargaining agreement is important if it supports a strong workforce of high quality nurses. And practice standards and education must drive us to greater knowledge and performance. The use of these tools is why ONA exists. Because we are a profession which is authorized by law and guided by a code of conduct.

It has been my privilege to be your partner in building a strong organization over these last 28 years. Thank you is hardly sufficient to express my feelings about the wonderful opportunity I have had and the great colleagues that you have been, but thank you, I am grateful for you and for the work we’ve done together.

Sincerely,

Susan King, RN, MS, CEN, FAAN

 

Susan King, RN, MS, CEN, FAAN retired as ONA’s executive director in August 2017. She is succeeded by Martin Taylor.

In 2015, ONA established the Susan E. King Emerging Leader in Nursing Practice award to honor Susan and her achievements. Click here to learn more about Susan and nominate an emerging nurse leader for this year’s award.

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