Health Care is Waiting for Nursing Professionals to Speak Their Minds

By: Lorie Brown

When I was a nurse, I did not want to share my thoughts on ways to improve patient care and now I realize I was not alone. A few months back “The Wall Street Journal” published a study showing that 33% of nursing professionals in a New York hospital said that they withheld ideas from their nursing supervisors. Another 29% said that they “sometimes” withheld ideas from their supervisor while 44% said they routinely withheld ideas from the surgeons they worked with and another 18% saying they “sometimes” withheld ideas from their surgeons.

I know nursing professionals have the answers on how to improve the working environment, the flow of work and patient care. Naturally, they are in the best position to see what is going on in the hospital and know what to do about any problems. When these great ideas are not expressed, patients get the short end of the stick.

Children have a natural ability to speak their minds. They say exactly what they feel and do not monitor their thoughts. As adults, we find this to be a fascinating and adorable trait in children, yet we somehow feel that if we speak our minds, we may hurt someone’s feelings or we may experience rejection or even some kind of retaliation.

Why are nurses unable or unwilling to speak their minds?

Nurses may not speak their minds for many reasons including: fear of discipline, concern their input will be rejected, believe that no one will take their input seriously or value their input, or feel that their input will not make a difference. For me, it was all of the above! I had these great thoughts on improving patient care, but felt no one would take me seriously or do anything about it. What this means for the patients is the great ideas of nurses likely will never be implemented.

When we do not speak our thoughts, ideas or truths, it comes with a cost. It can create illness and can become painful by causing anxiety, depression and unhappiness. We as nurses need to be healthy to take care of our patients and ourselves. By expressing yourself, you can make yourself happy by speaking your truths and, when you are happy, others around you will be happy as well. By expressing yourself, you can create camaraderie and effect positive change. Everyone wins!

While I would love to tell you to go out and give your employer a piece of your mind, that may not be the most sage advice! Next week, I will share with you tools which can eliminate the fear or beliefs that stop nursing professionals from speaking their minds and how to speak your mind to get the best results and stand in your power.

By Lorie Brown, Creator & Founder at | RN, MN, JD | Registered Nurse | Attorney | Author | Speaker | Transformational Leader | Lorie received her BSN from Indiana University, her MN from University of California at Los Angeles and her JD from Indiana University Indianapolis. Lorie has spent her career helping nurses. She has a private law practice in Indianapolis where she represents nurses before the Nursing Board. Lorie’s mission is to empower nurses to speak their mind, stand in their power and be a change agent to improve patient care.  Lorie would like to know if you are an empowered nurse. Take the quiz to find out at

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