Allyship—Word of the Year - January 2022

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Allyship—Word of the Year

By Jillian A. Russell, MSN, RN, NPD-BC

Over the last year and a half, the term allyship has made its way into the vocabulary of many. Allyship has been named’s 2021 word of the year. It is defined as “the status or role of a person who advocates and actively works for the inclusion of a marginalized or politicized group in all areas of society, not as a member of that group but in solidarity with its struggle and point of view and under its leadership” (, n.d., para. 1).

Nursing professional development (NPD) practitioners are positioned to be influencers and change agents—a powerful complement to being an ally. Woolforde (2021) emphasizes that “NPD practitioners are in a prime position to be allies for diversity and inclusion because NPD practitioners tend to possess influential power as opposed to hierarchical power” (p. 257). Woolforde also outlines five truths to leverage on the journey of allyship:

  1. Assist others in your ‘sphere of influence’ to understand social determinants of health.
  2. Include diversity and inclusion-focused educational programming.
  3. Prevent NPD from being perceived as a bystander.
  4. Teach stakeholders to listen rather than to defend.
  5. Call out the gaps when they are identified.

To read more, check out Woolforde’s (2021) article in the September/October 2021 issue of the Journal for Nurses in Professional Development. Also, you can learn more about allyship by listening to the NPD Forecast podcast episode, NPD and Allyship, featuring Launette Woolforde, EdD, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, NPD-BC, FAAN.

References (n.d.). Allyship. In dictionary. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from (2021, December 6).’s 2021 word of the year is…

Woolforde, L. (2021). Nursing professional development practitioners: Key influencers in the journey toward diversity and inclusion. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development, 37(5), 257­–259. doi: 10.1097/NND.0000000000000803

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