By Kathleen Clayton
Being a nurse today is frequently a frustrating experience. The
American health care system is in
a crisis. It fails to deliver needed
services to all people. Since nurses
are the largest group of health
care professionals, they are in a
position to effect significant
change. But the changes are not
coming with any speed.
The graduating nurse soon
learns she has responsibility for
giving nursing care but little
authority to determine how it
shall be rendered.
The local chapter of the Texas
Nurses Association will hold a
conference here Sept. 17 they
hope will help change that. It is
called Power Shortage: Economic,
Political, Professional and Female.
The educational system provides nurses principles and teaches
practices of quality health care.
But the real world rarely allows
full use of that knowledge. So the
question is how can nurses gain
more control over nursing practice
and subsequently over the entire
health care system.
The first step is to identify the
barriers to nurses taking control.
Since nursing is overwhelmingly
a women's profession, the matter
is also a women's issue.
"The characteristics, the
concerns, the problems, the frus
trations, the exploitations
experienced by women everywhere can easily be seen in the
everyday workworld of the professional nurse," Carol Spengler
and Mariene Grissum write in
Womanpower and Health Care.
"Just as women everywhere
must become aware of the barriers
in society that prevent them from
developing their full potential, so
must nurses," they write.
A consensus of the 400
Houston members of the Texas
Nurses Association is that the
three biggest barriers are fear,
ignorance and apathy. So their
meeting, to be held at the
Shamrock Hilton Hotel, will be a
sort of professional assertiveness
Participants will learn the
factors that have created the
power shortage and possible
solutions to the problem.
The keynote speaker will be
Eddie Bernice Johnson, a registered nurse and former state representative who has just become
regional director of the Department of Health, Education and
Welfare. (See page 8.)
A "power panel" will consist
of Ann Hughes, a business administration professor and director of
the University of Texas at Arlington's Labor Studies Institute;
U.S. Rep. Bob Gammage, D-Hous-
ton; Carol Spengler, author and
i POWER SHORTAGE: j
' professional and
SAT. SEPT. \7
director of nursing at the Mid-
Missouri Mental Health Center in
Columbia, and Evelyn Yoakum,
an individual, marriage and group
Each will also head separate
forums on one of the four areas of
The workshop is set for Saturday, Sept. 17, from 8:45 a.m.
until 3 p.m. Fees for attendance
range from $30 down, with discounts for women's group
members and students. Persons
wanting more information may
By Nancy Lane Fleming
Womanpower and Health Care
(Little, Brown and Company,
$6.95) is a book about women
learning to use power. The authors,
Carol Spengler and Marlene
Grissum, nurses with graduate degrees, are clearly in touch with
their power both as women and as
health care professionals.
They have produced a book
which is a guide not only for
nurses, but for women in general,
for getting control of their work
and their lives.
The first section of the book
examines the socialization of
women into passive and dependent
roles and how the process is continued and emphasized in nursing
education. The authors seek to
make women aware of the attitudes and behavior which prevent
them from taking their work
seriously and defining their own
Following chapters strongly
encourage women to take responsibility for themselves and place
emphasis on what can be done to
change their position in a male-
The result is invigorating. Rather than overwhelming the reader
with a litany of injustices and de
scriptions of male supremacy,
Spengler and Grissum give
concrete, explicit suggestions for
transcending traditional roles and
getting rid of barriers to success.
They also candidly prepare the
reader for the risks involved.
Womanpower and Health Care
is a handbook for change. It deals
rationally and constructively with
emotional issues in which the
authors are deeply involved. It is
carefully prepared and documented and introduces the reader to
works for further study.
Although it is directed primarily at practicing nurses, this book
is relevant to other women. It
speaks to anyone interested in
quality health care. But beyond
that, Spengler and Grissum's
world of nursing and its problems
become a microcosm of the entire male-dominated society.
One of the most dramatic ways
in which the book succeeds is as a
demonstration of what the authors
propose for others. Here two
women have worked together, researching and sharing their experiences. The resulting work is a
good example of what serious
commitment can bring. In that
way Spengler and Grissum have
become the sort of role models
they say nurses need.
PAGE 12 SEPTEMBER 1977 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH
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Breakthrough phones are answered
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Roberta K. tttfinghast, Prosidont
Houston • Galvoston • San Antonio • Corpus Christi