Illustrating nursing's impact on Taiwan

By Jill Jansen

When Ching-Min Chen, PhD, decided to follow in the footsteps of her older sister and become a nurse, her family was very supportive. She soon learned, however, that the same level of support for nurses is not widespread in her home country of Taiwan. Committed to change how nurses are viewed, Chen vied for a seat in her country’s legislature in 2018. Today, as an elected legislator at-large in the Legislative Yuan, Republic of China (Taiwan), she is a role model for nurses and a trailblazer for the nursing profession.

“We have 280,000 nurses in Taiwan; however, for the past 16 years, we have never had someone representing nursing in the congress,” said Chen, who received a master’s degree '92 and doctor of nursing '95 (equivalent to the PhD) from IU School of Nursing. She enrolled in IUSON’s graduate program after completing an RN to BSN degree at the University of Illinois.

A representative of the Democratic Progressive Party, Chen serves on the health and welfare policy committee, which manages issues related to universal health coverage, environmental protection and climate change, and labor. She is also a professor in the Department of Nursing at National Cheung Kung University. True to her calling as a nurse and educator, Chen has set out to raise awareness of her various roles through somewhat unconventional means—a comic book.

“After I took office, I asked someone to draw this up for me [to illustrate] the three roles I’m playing as a legislator, a professor, and as a representative of the nursing profession,” Chen said. “It’s a figure I use everywhere when I go out for public speaking.”

Improving both working conditions and the public perception of nursing are important priorities for Chen, who was elected a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2020.

“Because the working environment is not friendly and the pay is not good [in Taiwan], a lot of nurses just practice for three to four years and get married and go back to their family and raise kids,” she explained. “We [nurses] are around patients 24 hours; we see more of them to know why they get disease—because of family, because of lifestyle, or the environment. I think nurses can do a lot more.”

That’s one of the reasons Chen is so passionate about educating the people of Taiwan about the impact nurses can make and the value they have in promoting health and welfare in her country.