Why Not Nursology?

Photo – Adeline Falk-Rafael © 2018

Dr. Jacqui Fawcett  eloquently argued the case for “Why Nursology “a few weeks back. Another question might be asked – why not nursology? The use of “logy” – the study of – is widely used as a convention for identifying the knowledge base of other disciplines, e.g, biology, sociology, psychology, etc. On the other hand, the word “nursing” can be confusing because it has both popular uses, such as sipping a drink slowly or breastfeeding, and professional uses such as nursing (practice) and nursing (knowledge). It is beyond time for distinguishing between those two professional meanings. I believe doing so will go a long way toward making nursing knowledge visible, not only to other health disciplines and the public, but also to nurses and nursing students themselves. Language is powerful – it is the reason, I have previously advocated for replacing the term “student nurse” with nursing student. I look forward to that becoming nursology students!

I am excited about this initiative! Perhaps that is because my first nursing program was a hospital-based diploma program in the Canadian mid-west during the early 1960s in which the only reference to nursing science that I recall was a textbook called “The Art and Science of Nursing.”  The science of nursing was, sadly,  never explicated. I learned nursing basically as an ancillary medical service, i.e., the care required in the context of specific medical diagnoses and/or treatments. Over the next 15 years, I worked in various units in different hospitals in different cities and provinces. I practiced as I had been taught and consistent with how other Registered Nurses practiced. I say with some shame that I wasn’t reading nursing journals during that time and looking back, I think that was the norm for my colleagues, as well. Hospital or unit procedure books provided the necessary instruction for how to perform essential tasks.

It wasn’t until I moved into a leadership position and took a nursing leadership course that I was introduced to and required to engage with nursing (and other) literature. I marveled at how nursing leaders so articulately argued the contributions nurses make to health and healing, contributions that were based on nurses’ assessments and judgments, independent of medical directives. Nursing  process, nursing diagnoses and nursing theories excited me because they named and provided systematic structure for the work that nurses did in promoting health and healing. In other words, they began to make the invisible, visible! I began to read books and papers on my own, but soon realized I needed more knowledge and returned to school.

I don’t think my journey was unusual for that time. What grieves me is seeing still, much too often, nurses who acknowledge the biological, physiological, psychological, sociological and/or medical knowledge that informs their practice but fail to recognize the critical contribution of nursing knowledge. Nursology is a term that by its very nature emphasizes the disciplinary field of study that informs nursing practice. I can’t wait for the first Nursology programs and for nursing researchers and advanced practioners being recognized as nursologists, in keeping with the conventions of so many other disciplines.

5 thoughts on “Why Not Nursology?

  1. Educational programs that require a strong liberal arts and humanities base including philosophy, theology, history, literature can provide a strong base for philosophical and scientific knowledge development in any profession, including nursing. It is puzzling to me why this is not a universal requirement for basic nursing education.

  2. I thank Dr. Falk-Rafael for her kind words about my blog, Why Nursology? Why .net?
    Why not nursology, indeed! Since the launching of this website, I have been introducing myself as a nursologist to any and all (family and friends and other members of the general public, other nursologists, other members of the healthcare team). I also have been referring to our discipline as nursology. Responses lead to informative conversations about what nursologists do and what constitutes the knowledge of our discipline. To date, no one has rejected the terms. Therefore, I strongly encourage everyone one to use these terms all the time–nursology and nursologists. Encourage changing the name of the school, program, educational and clinical agency departments, and organization to … of nursology and to those who study or work in these places to nursologists!

  3. Referring to our profession as nursology and identifying ourselves as nursologists will make all the difference in how we are perceived as a profession. We should’ve started this 120 years ago!!
    I’ve already started to use these descriptions in conversation and am finding people very interested and receptive to the new terminology.
    Thanks for the enlightenment!!

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