My blog posts and other writings are my  personal reflections on health care and social justice from my perspective as a nurse practitioner.

Who I am in third person:

Josephine Ensign was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1960. She received her BA (Biology and Religion) from Oberlin College in 1981, her masters in primary care nursing from the Medical College of Virginia in 1986, and her doctorate in public health from the Johns Hopkins University in 1996. She has done postgraduate work in medical ethics at Harvard University and in narrative medicine at Columbia University. Currently she is Associate Professor of Community Health at the University of Washington School of Nursing in Seattle, Washington where she teaches health policy and narrative medicine. She has worked as a family nurse practitioner for the past three decades, providing primary health care to homeless adolescents and adults in large urban areas on both coasts of the U.S. Through a Fulbright Fellowship, she expanded her research and advocacy internationally with work in Thailand and Venezuela–and most recently in New Zealand. The focus of her career has been to increase an understanding of the lives of marginalized populations, and to develop ways to increase their access to effective health care programs.

As a university faculty member she has published numerous journal articles and book chapters on homelessness, health and human rights. Her literary non-fiction essays have appeared  in the The Sun, Oberlin Alumni Magazine,  Silk Road, University of Iowa’s Examined Life, and Johns Hopkins Public Health Magazine,  Pulse magazine and Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine. She received the Zola Prize in the 2010 Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Literary Contest for an essay entitled “Gone South,” published in Silk Road (Winter/Spring, 2011). An excerpt/reprint of “Gone South” was published in the University of Iowa‘s The Daily Palette. She is completing a book manuscript entitled Soul Stories: Health and Healing Through Homelessness, a narrative nonfiction account of her work as a nurse practitioner providing health care for homeless people while navigating her own passage through homelessness. The companion digital Soul Stories project is described here. An essay “Next of Kin” based on a chapter from Soul Story is included in Creative Nonfiction’s anthology I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out: True Stories of Becoming a Nurse (Lee Gutkind editor; In Fact Press, 2013). Contributing to scholarship on urban studies, health policy, and narrative medicine, Soul Stories seeks to deepen our understanding of poverty and homelessness, our healthcare safety net, the rhetoric of medicine, and ways in which we can humanize health care. She has received a Hedgebrook writing residency for 2014.

Who I am in first person (also known as Artist Statement): I was born and raised at Camp Hanover, outside of Richmond, Virginia. The 600-acre camp was the first racially integrated children’s summer camp in the South. The land I grew up on was the site of two of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. I went to school with the son of the Grand Dragon of the Klu Klux Klan, and dated men with gun racks in their pick-up trucks, Jack Daniels in their flasks. The land and the shadows of the South formed me; they inform my writing.

As a Southern woman, writer, and nurse, I write about topics and lives lived at the margins of society. My goal in writing is to cultivate empathy leading to action, to be a voice for change. I mainly write narrative or literary nonfiction with an advocacy edge. Through my writing, I challenge common stereotypes of people who are homeless, of people who are marginalized. I challenge common stereotypes of nurses. I strive for an intelligent, critically thinking—sometimes provocative—nursing voice. I hope to help humanize health care through narrative advocacy.

  • Note on my personal  blogging ethical code: I blog as if my mother were reading every word I write. If you knew my mother, you would understand that this is a much higher ethical code than any existing blogger’s code of ethics (cyberjournalist.net has a good one).
  • University Big Brother and Big Sister would like me to state the following: “This is a personal website, produced in my own time, on my own computer, and solely reflecting my personal opinions. Statements on this site do not represent any past, current or future employer, or any other organization with which I may be affiliated. All content is copyrighted.”
  • You can contact me either by leaving a comment (it links to my personal e-mail and I will respond).

3 responses to “About

  1. Hello Josephine!
    I took your homeless youth class several years ago while I was in nursing school. I am starting the Community Health Nursing program at UW this fall. I stumbled upon your blog through someone who posted it on Facebook. I can’t wait to read more. I have always admired and respected what you do.

    Julie Myers


  2. Hello!

    My name is Sam and I work with Jacksonville University’s School of Nursing. Because of the quality information you are providing to the online world about nursing, we would like to award your blog one of the “20 Best Blogs for Nurses.” To mark this achievement, I am including code information with this email. When the code is added to your blog, a badge will be produced which announces that Jacksonville University considers your blog one of the 20 Best Blogs for Nurses. You can see what the badge looks like here: http://schoolofnursingonline.wordpress.com/ on the right hand side toward the bottom.

    I wish to congratulate you on your success, and am happy to offer you help in successfully publishing this badge to your site. In the right hand column, you will be able to add this code and on every page your visitors come to, they will see that you have been recognized as a top blog in the niche of nursing.

    CODE for Your Award Badge:
    RN to BSN

    Please email or call me if you have any questions. Keep up the great work, and I look forward to reading future posts on your blog.

    Thanks so much!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s