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The nursing role in care: the necessary solidarity


For Nursing Week 2014, 12-20 May, the theme chosen by the Brazilian Association of Nursing (ABEn) is entitled The nursing role in the care process . The centrality of the act of caring is, so yes, brought to the debate, highlighting the role of nursing as a profession and social practice.

On the term protagonist, it's worth making a short reflection of conceptual and political character. Originated from the Greek, articulates the prefix protos (first) the word agonistes (fighter), indicating, by definition, a leadership role that someone or something puts forward to an organization, an event, a time1. It refers, therefore, the idea of a subject who, as a leader, guides a personal and / or collective story. A first tension can be made explicit in the opposition between the individual and a collective, social dimension. For sociologists as Maria Cecilia Minayo2 this opposition can be examined on the basis of the concepts of structure and subject. The first is that the understanding of society as a whole, on which act external forces and positive being the human behavior a arising from the laws of social processes, and give rise to social theories of structuralist character. Now the term subject is brought in as a counterpoint to the structuralist view by currents that give prominence and visibility to production of subjectivity within the social structure. The subject does not stand out of the social order, and this is not separated from the individual: rather, it is from the subject and its forms of subjectivity that seeks to understand the broader social relations. By means of the praxis, the individual action ceases to be a mere act is not intentional, proactive, and can gain strength to track changes in social history.

The subject, therefore, not only reproduces a given social order - also the produce, and can even produce it under new relations. The concept of activism and leadership can be understood in its emergency nature of an action of a given individual or group as social actor with strength and/or power to induce changes and new processes, as an essential part of the story, and not just determined by the authority.

Thus, what is the idea of the role of nursing in the care process? Removed from the context in which it is produced, the health care runs the risk of being interpreted only from metaphysical postulates, without materiality and resonance to the daily work of nursing professionals. But if understood in the light of historical conjuncture and of social relations within concrete of which falls, gains concreteness and dimension of historical fact. Each nursing professional, who protagonizes as the care subject, sets the wheel of history in motion. This, as we know, only turns the extent that there are several hands that trigger, and you can walk towards reproducing the existing order, or to tread new paths.

The opposition between individual and collective, such as subject and structure, then needs to be made explicit, from the perspective of its overrun by praxis, in the context of the various actions that make up the nursing care, reaffirming their identity of defense of human emancipative and egalitarian, ideals in their own identity.

With a view to a social and political turmoil, such as the one we are facing today, with the displacements from the positions of power, including in the health sector, there is the challenge to make processes that extend the understanding and the ability to analyze the entire category, including those who work at the levels of vocational training. For this reason, the strategic focus should seek the convergence and consensus possible, without disregarding the diversity of views and proposals, but building, of solidarity, a nursing whose brand is the defense of universal access to healthcare, within a just social order.

Congratulations to all of us through our 75th Brazilian Week of Nursing, in the certainty that our action leadership and activism is only - and only - in our own hands.


Helena Maria Scherlowski Leal David
Director of UERJ - Associate Editor


1. Minayo MCS. Structure and subject, determinism and historic prominence: a reflection on the practice of public health. Ciênc saúde coletiva [Internet]. 2001 [cited on Nov 12, 2014]. 7-19. Availible at:

2.Houaiss A. Dictionary. Entry: protagonist. (CITED in May 11 2014) Available at:

Direitos autorais 2014 Helena Maria Scherlowski Leal David

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