Today in the chart

Five Female Nurses That Will Go Down in Herstory

These five nurses will go down in herstory as some of the leaders that have spearheaded equality and empowerment in the field of nursing.

Pessimistic. Bossy. Feisty. Not a team player.

As members of a female-dominated profession, nurses are often branded as the above rather than the innovators and critical stakeholders they are in the healthcare system. Because the roots of nursing are entangled with the women’s rights movement, nursing needs to be both celebrated and continue to be transformed into a more diverse and inclusive career. These five nurses will go down in history as some of the leaders that have spearheaded equality and empowerment in nursing.

Casey Green

“Being a woman means being strong, and being a nurse is a part of that.”

At 28 years old, Casey Green BSN, RN, CCRN-CMC, CTRN, CFRN, CEN, TCRN, CPEN, NRP was the 85th nurse to achieve all five emergency nursing certifications:

  • Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN)
  • Certified Transport Registered Nurse (CTRN)
  • Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN)
  • Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)
  • Trauma Certified Registered Nurse (TCRN)
  • Certified Pediatric Emergency Nurse (CPEN)

Green recalls that the nurses she knew with certifications were excellent examples. Green advises nurses aspiring to earn a certification, "Find people who believe in you. I probably would have been certified sooner if I had done that.”

Proud to be a woman and a nurse, Green affirms, “We’re tough, and I think being a woman means being strong, and being a nurse is a part of that.” She would love to see women in nursing pursue less traditionally female specialties, like patient transport or the C-suite. “A woman’s voice, especially a nurse, is very important, and healthcare needs to see more of that.”

Green is currently dreaming of CRNA school and continues to lead unit initiatives focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially for women of color.

Marion Leary

“Our patients and communities need nurses transforming healthcare.”

Marion Leary, RN, MSN, MPH, is the Director of Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and a thought leader in innovation and design thinking. Leary has been a top researcher and innovator on cardiac arrest and CPR quality to focus on improving sudden cardiac arrest outcomes. Leary proposes that the process of innovation meshes nicely with the nursing process, which is why she encourages nurses to never place limits on their education or interests. There’s a power in nurses that diversify their skill sets beyond the bounds of traditional nursing.

With a unique approach to problem-solving, Leary is a proponent of the idea that we should sit with problems rather than be afraid of confronting them. “We often think we know a solution without understanding the problem,” she remarks. “We need to slow down and gather data.” By allowing nurses to have the space to innovate, especially without the fear of failing, Leary postulates that more nurses would feel safe to innovate. “Use your innovative knowledge and skills,” she urges, “our patients and communities need nurses transforming healthcare in this way.”

Rebecca Love

“Women’s financial independence in this country wouldn’t be established without nursing.”

Rebecca Love RN, MSN, FIEL was one of the founders of SONSIEL: The Society of Nurse Scientists, Innovators, Entrepreneurs & Leaders (pronounced “sun-see-EL”). After attending her first Healthcare Hackathon, Love felt innovation in the healthcare industry was moving forward, and nurses were too often left behind. So, seeking to create a space for nurses to innovate, she started SONSIEL.

Nursing marks the first time women could have a career and be financially independent of men. Love says that the economic model of billing nursing care with the room charge in hospitals nearly a century ago wasn’t just an attack on nurses- it was an attack on women. Now, Love is working on a proposal to CMS to undo this change.

Love’s advice to aspiring nurse entrepreneurs? Write all your ideas down. “Once you have an idea that you can’t stop thinking about for weeks, you have to move forward.”

Lauren Underwood

“More than ever, we need nurses to step forward into leadership roles.”

Lauren Underwood, RN, MSN, MPH, is a US Representative from Illinois’s 14th congressional district. After being inspired by a college course in nursing politics, Underwood became the youngest Black woman to serve in Congress. Underwood believes that healthcare is a human right, which has been the focus of her work in Congress. In an interview with the American Organization of Nursing Leadership (AONL), she said, “More than ever, we need nurses to step forward into leadership roles.” As a nurse, Underwood considers access to quality, affordable healthcare fundamental to her practice.

Some of Underwood’s resume includes:

  • Senior Advisor at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • Co-founder of the Black Maternal Health Caucus
  • Presidential advisor for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  • Advisor for the Flint, Michigan, water crisis
  • Member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC)
  • Member of the LGBT Equality Caucus
  • Member of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force

Underwood urges nurses to be agents of change, not to be afraid to get involved in politics, and advocates for policies that are important to nurses.

Sarah Warren

“Nurses have experienced countless losses, and we deserve to grieve.”

Sarah Warren, RN, is a nurse entrepreneur and the face behind and @shesinscrubs on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Warren often credits her nurse mother for inspiring her to pursue her career and that she “followed in her footsteps.”

Warren is one of the founders of Don’t Clock Out, a non-profit organization founded in 2022, taking action to provide mental health resources to all nurses and healthcare workers. As a fierce advocate for nurse working conditions, Warren says, “hospitals must take accountability for the mental health crisis they’ve created. They capitalized on calling us heroes while expecting us to be martyrs.” Warren hopes Don’t Clock Out can help mitigate the mental health crisis. Warren proves there is nothing weak about grief and expressing our emotions as women and nurses.

Using her social media platforms, Warren brings awareness to the issues nurses face, shares relevant nursing news, and discusses complicated issues in nursing, like diversity and inclusion.

Green, Underwood, Leary, Love, and Warren all have one thing in common: They don’t see the success of other women as a threat to their careers. Instead, these five powerhouse women inspire others to follow in their footsteps and forge their own paths. The nursing field always has room for bigger dreams, more education, innovation, and entrepreneurship. So let’s keep the cycle going and cheer one another on.

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