I serve as the president of the Society of Rogerian Scholars (SRS). I was encouraged years ago to attend the annual conference by my now colleague, but former mentor, Dottie Jones. My timing was not great for my first conference – it was the one following the death of Martha Rogers. In some ways, I felt like I was a spy at a wake, and in reality, I was. Being Irish, for whom wakes are a sport, I am comfortable in this sort of setting so being an outsider did not deter me. I watched as members who had not seen each other in months or perhaps years, hug one another, cry and laugh as they shared memories of Martha. People seemed intrigued by my being there, yet only welcomed my presence. I knew from stories I had heard before the conference that Martha was special. It was a gift to bear witness to the event and see how she influenced so many.
Once the conference kicked off and I heard the papers being presented, I was hooked. Where had these nurses been all my life? I listened to the research, practice and education presentations that focused on Martha Rogers’ Science of Unitary Human Beings (SUHB) and knew I was home – well not exactly because NYU was not my home – but home in the sense of connecting with nurses with whom I could relate. With apologies to James Joyce – Yes! A person is so much more than their disease! Yes! We need new ways of knowing, discovery and measuring outcomes beyond the empirical sciences! Yes! There is room for art, music, literature, mystery, science fiction and spirituality in nursing!
I came back from the conference knowing I would return annually. I am now a nurse educator and when I integrate my thinking about SUHB into the classroom, it resonates with my students as it had with me. I also practice as a NP in a psychiatric facility and I find that incorporating what John Phillips calls wellbecoming into my practice changes the focus from trying to fix the problem to one that maximizes personal resolve and opportunities for self-care. My research on older persons with chronic conditions is framed by SUHB and infused with Newman’s Health as Expanding Consciousness and Barrett’s Knowing Participation in Change. I see the difference nurses make when they practice from a nursing theory guided perspective.
I cannot imagine ever not being a member of SRS. Being part of such a welcoming group of colleagues provides me with the energy, language and thinking to test out my ideas and bring them back to my academic and practice settings. It gives me the permission to be the nurse I choose to be. If you like a nursing theory or just wonder what a nursing theory group is all about, I encourage you to join one. It might be one of the best things you do for your career and for yourself.
One thought on “Nursing theory groups: why join, my story”
Jane, thank you for sharing this memory. I am just back from attending my first SRS conference. I also experienced the sense of arriving home while being in the presence of this group of creative, humanistic nurses and like-minded souls. I am so fortunate to have spent two days thinking and meditating with nursing theory giants such as John Phillips, Jacqueline Fawcett, Peggy Chinn, Elizabeth Barrett, and Dottie Jones among others. I am still resonating.
Tonight I read the second volume of Visions that was published right after Martha’s passing in 1994, and I was struck by the tribute of Violet Malinski who commented that the only way to further develop the Theory of the Science of Unitary Human Beings is to communicate it. By sharing ideas, critiques, and open dialog about the theory she imagined that it would continue to advance. I witnessed this communication in action this past weekend in research, art, and theory development and I look forward to being part of this in the future.