A Scoping Review of Nursing and Midwifery Activism in the United States

Melissa T. Ojemeni, Jin Jun, Caroline Dorsen, Lauren Gerchow, Gavin Arneson, Cynthia Orofo, Adrianna Nava, Allison P. Squires

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is often said that modern-day nursing and midwifery was founded on the spirit of activism. Yet, historically, the link between nursing and activism has been inconsistent. Nursing Now USA was created in response to a global campaign launched in 2020 by the World Health Organization to mark the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. A goal of this initiative is education about how contemporary nurses serve as leaders in healthcare in the United States. This article describes the methods and results of a scoping review that sought to explore the current state of the science, key concepts, and operationalization of activism in nursing. The general consensus in the literature is that the profession of nursing has deep roots in activism, but a lack of a clear definition of activism and operationalization in policy, practice, research, and academic settings likely limits active engagement by many nurses. The current state of nurse activism is more subtle, often unseen, and non-confrontational compared to the participation and contribution of nurses from the 1900s to the 1980s. We identified barriers and facilitators to activism in nursing and our discussion includes implications for nursing practice, education, and leadership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOnline Journal of Issues in Nursing
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023


  • Nursing Now USA
  • United States
  • activist
  • nurse activism
  • nurses and midwives
  • political movements
  • professionalism
  • social justice
  • social movement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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