AORN Blog - The Periop Life

Nurse Activism: How to Make a Difference

A Conversation with Nurse Blake, BSN


Nurse Activism: How to Make a Difference

March 3, 2019   

As a nurse you have the power to make a difference, not only in your practice, but in your community. Sometimes it just takes the right situation to find your voice.

I found my voice in nursing school when I went to donate blood for the first time and was turned away because I’m gay. A policy put in place 30 years prior prevented me from giving back to my community and I knew this had to change.

I took to social media and began sharing my concern for this outdated policy. I launched a social media campaign I called Banned4Life and used this campaign to reach hundreds of thousands of people in nursing and beyond, finding national news coverage, and even partnering with America’s Blood Centers and the Red Cross. Through this campaign I used my voice to inspire reconsideration of this policy change, and guess what? It worked.

In December 2015, the FDA lifted the lifetime ban on gay men from donating blood.

The success of Banned4Life showed me that a nurse with a passion and a phone can take to social media to make a difference.

Early in my first nursing position, I found my next campaign—taking on the accepted reality that nurses “eat” their young. This idea that seasoned nurses are especially tough on new nurses was so engrained in nursing culture—and I wanted to change it.

I launched a social media campaign called Nurses Support Their Young to inspire a healthier work environment and it’s making a difference. Of my 675,000 followers on social media, I’m now connected with nurses across the world who are working to support young nurses.

Ready to start your own campaign? Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. Be patient, but be persistent.

Some campaigns, especially for social media, can be successful overnight while others can take one year or two years to gain traction. If something isn’t working, make a change and don’t be afraid try something new.

2. Realize your power as a nurse.

We have the knowledge, power, and public trust to be active in our communities, whether it’s in politics, policy, or our daily practice.

3. Know the power of passion.

Our work is not easy. Some days challenge our heart and our mind to forge ahead. For me, the passion I have to make a difference through my latest campaign is what helps me stay resilient to continue giving my all to each and every patient.

Ready to find your voice? Nurse Blake will be presenting his interactive workshop on using your passion to influence healthcare in and outside the OR at AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo on Monday, April 8.

Nurse Blake, BSN, is a practicing nurse, social media influencer, and advocate for nurses and patients.