An Introduction to the Canadian Nursing Theories Perspective

In a previous blog, I admitted my ignorance of nursing science during both my early diploma nursing education, and at least the first 18 years of my nursing practice.  But in the mid 1980s, I became aware of an increasing trend in Toronto area hospitals to adopt nursing theoretical frameworks.  Long after the fact, I also learned there had been nursing theory conferences held in Toronto around that time and set out to learn about those conferences, the experiences of the nursologists who attended, and with those in other provinces to discover other such events or activities.  What I found far exceeded what could be captured in 1 blog and yet I know I have barely scratched the surface!  My purpose here is first to thank everyone who has been so generous in sharing their time and archival documents (which will eventually be included in the Landmark Events section of the History tab of this website), and second, to invite nursologists from across Canada to add to my limited findings with what I’m sure is a wealth of information.

In pursuing information on the nursing theory conferences, I was reminded also of the other contributions to nursing knowledge made by Canadian nursologists, such as the:

  • Nursing Philosophy conferences organized by the Unit for Philosophical Research in the Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, proceedings of which were published;
  • Conceptual nursing frameworks used to guide curriculum development and pedagogy in Canadian University Schools of Nursing. At least one such model-the McGill model, also known as the Allen model or Developmental Health Model-has been explicated by research and used in nursing practice;1,2,3(3 articles of Ford-Gilboe and Margy Warner)
  • The development and or use of nursing conceptual frameworks to guide nursing practice in some hospitals and public health agencies;
  • The critique, comparison, and explication of nursing theories by Canadian nursing scholars.

Each of these areas will be explored in more detail in the weeks and months to come, hopefully by some of the key scholars who have been involved in these efforts. For the remainder of this blog, I will return to the Canadian nursing theory conferences

I have been able to identify 5 Canadian nursing theory conferences. One was held at the University of British Columbia, in 1988, and four in Ontario – two in Toronto in 1986 and 1988, one in Ottawa in 1989, and one at the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital in 1993, in celebration of 20 years of theory-based nursing practice.4  Indeed HPH may well have been the first hospital in Canada to have adopted a nursing conceptual framework  (first Orlando, and later Peplau) to guide nursing practice.4

Many of the prominent nursing theorists of the time participated in the 1986 conference, including Dickoff and James, Imogene King, Myra Levine, Betty Neuman, Rosemary Parse, Martha Rogers, and Sister Callista Roy.  Some returned for the 1988 Toronto conference and notable additions for this conference included Virginia Henderson and Jean Watson.

Dorothea M. Fox Jakob, a retired public health nurse and nursing activist was a keen

Dorothea Fox-Jakob

participant in both nursing theory and NANDA conferences and, has generously provided proceedings from the 2 Toronto conferences as well as from many of the NANDA conferences.  Those proceedings are in the process of digitization and will be added to this website in the near future. Information about the other 3 conferences would be a great addition, as would information about any other Canadian nursing theory conferences.

Dorothea tells the story of meeting Virginia Henderson at a reception at the 1988 conference and telling her about her work in advocating for poverty reduction. Dorothea had prepared a resolution for the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO), arguing that poverty was a health issue and urged RNAO to lobby for poverty reduction at the provincial and federal levels. The resolution was passed and promptly acted upon by RNAO. Dr. Henderson enthusiastically supported Dorothea’s actions and asked her to send her a copy of the resolution, which she did.  In return she received she received a letter in which she says she is encouraged by Dorothea’s efforts in “trying to do something about basic problems in society like poverty. We too often in the States leave this to others thinking that if we do our particular work well that we have fulfilled our role in society.” The handwritten letter, its transcribed content, and a brief statement of context have been framed and hang in the York University School of Nursing.

V Henderson letter-1.jpgReferences

  1. Ford-Gilboe, M. (2002). Developing knowledge about family health promotion by testing the developmental model of health and nursing. Journal of Family Nursing (8)2, 140-156.
  2. Warner, M. (2002). Postscript to “A Developmental Model of Health and Nursing” by F. Moyra Allen. Journal of Family Nursing, (8)2, 136-139.
  3. Ford-Gilboe, M. (1994). A comparison of two nursing models: Allen’s developmental Health Model and Newman’s Theory of Health as Expanding Consciousness. Nursing Science Quarterly (7)2, 113-118.
  4. Forchuk, C. & Tweedell, D. (2001). Celebrating our past: The history of Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services (39)10, 16-24.






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