What If? Random Thoughts of Sleepers Awake

With apologies to J. S. Bach, composer of Cantata no. 140, Sleepers Awake these are my random thoughts of “What If?” about our discipline while I was a sleeper awake one very early morning.

  • What if Florence Nightingale (circa 1859) founded modern nursology (rather than nursing), titled her book, Nursology: What it is and What it is not, and established the first college/school/department/program of nursology to prepare nursologists?
  • What if we referred to ourselves as nursologists, rather than nurses or advanced practice nurses or nurse practitioners or even “practitioners of nursing” (Orem & Taylor, 1986, p. 39)?
  • What if Dock and Stewart (1938) wrote A Short History of Nursology (instead of A Short History of Nursing)?
  • What if our conceptual models originally were called paradigms, as these abstract and general “horizon[s] of expectation” (Popper, 1965, p. 47) for disciplinary activities are called in other disciplines?
  • What if health was widely regarded as encompassing wellness, illness, and disease, so that wellness would be promoted, and illness and disease would be prevented, rather than health being promoted (who would want to promote illness and disease)?
  • What if NANDA-I was NATA, such that D = Diagnosis were replaced with T = Trophicognosis, which Levine (1966) used as the label for judgments stemming from assessments of each patient’s health (wellness, illness, disease) condition?

Inspired by these possibilities, I asked my Nursology.net management team colleagues to also share their “sleepers awake” inspirations!

Peggy L. Chinn

  • What if all healthcare providers (regardless of discipline) were to base their interactions with patients on nursology fundamental principles and values? If we did this, there would be no computer screens in the room where the interactions take place, or at least they would be way off in the corner and ignored until a basic relationship was established. Every person in the room would be acknowledged, there would be lots of eye contact, and a focus on hearing and listening. That would be for starters!
  • What if there were nursology think tanks happening regularly and often all over the world?
  • What if all undergraduate students had a “Nursology 101” course?
  • What if all current nurses were required to have a continuing education “Nursology 101” course to maintain licensure?
  • What if the accreditation criteria for all nursing programs at all levels addressed the nature of the focus of the discipline in the structure of the curriculum?

Margaret Dexheimer Pharris

  • What if the National Institute for Nursing Research (NINR) only funded proposals based on nursology and contributing to nursology?
    • Jacqueline Fawcett: Following from Dr. Pharris’ question, What if NINR was called the National Institute of Nursology (NIN) or the National Nursology Institute (NNI)?
  • What if there was a nursologist in every community who could know and attend to people across care settings (community, hospital, homeless shelter, long-term care. etc.)? The nursologist–rooted in nursology’s patterns of knowing–would truly know and care for each person and the people who are important to that person, and would collaborate with other nursologists and other healthcare providers within each setting to ensure that the person’s sense of health is honored and nurtured.

Danny Willis

  • What if nursologists always clearly communicated the value added by our knowledge and presence?

Rosemary William Eustace

  • What if all nursologists worldwide are made aware of the impact of nursology on our diverse roles, specialties, training and contributions in meeting overall health outcomes and challenges as part of the 21st century (so-called) nursing campaigns?
  • What if nursologists claim that meaningful healthcare transitions, mutual goal attainments and positive client outcomes would not be possible without the nursologist–client interactions as a vital step to quality health care, such as in keeping with King’s (1992) Theory of Goals Attainment? (See https://nursology.net/nurse-theorists-and-their-work/kings-conceptual-system/)

Marian Turkel

  • What if there was another curriculum revolution and nursologists would have a curriculum focused on nursing as a human science/caring science? For academics this would mean letting go of sacred cows to advance nursing knowledge focused on caring, ethics, health as expanding consciousness, meaning, patterning, presence, and relationships.
  • What if the curriculum for nursologists moved beyond the traditional patterns of knowing (aesthetic, empirical, ethical, and personal (Carper, 1978) to include intuitive, mystical, and spiritual patterns of knowing
    • Jacqueline Fawcett
      Following from Marian Turkel’s second question, readers of this blog may want to read a recently published paper about spirituality as another pattern of knowing (Willis & Leone-Sheehan, 2019). In addition, White (1995) identified sociopolitical knowing as another pattern of knowing. Since that time, Chinn and Kramer (2019) have identified and refined the meaning of emancipatory knowing as still another pattern of knowing. And lest we forget, Munhall (1973) wrote about unknowing as a pattern of knowing, “as a condition of openness” whereas knowing “leads to a form of confidence that has inherent in it a state of closure” (p. 125).

Marlaine Smith

  • What if Nursology 101 was offered for students, or better yet, required for all students enrolled in a university? The course would focus on an introduction to phenomena such as human wholeness, human-environment-health relationships, the nature of health, healing, well-being/becoming, and caring in the human health experience.

In closing, we invite all readers of this blog to contribute their own random thoughts–whether generated as a sleeper awake or during another phase of living–of “What Ifs?”


Carper, B. A. (1978). Fundamental patterns of knowing in nursing. Advances in Nursing Science, 1(1), 13–23.

Chinn, P. L., & Kramer, M. K. (2019). Knowledge development in nursing: Theory and process (10th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Dock, L. L., & Stewart, I. M. (1938). A short history of nursing: From the earliest times to the present day (4th ed.). New York: G. P. Putnam.

King, I. M. (1992). King’s theory of goal attainment. Nursing Science Quarterly, 5, 19–26.

Levine, M. E. (1966)Trophicognosis: An alternative to nursing diagnosis. In American Nurses’ Association Regional Clinical Conference (Vol. 2, pp. 55–70). New York: American Nurses’ Association.

Munhall, P. L. (1973). ‘Unknowing’: Toward another pattern of knowing in nursing. Nursing Outlook, 41, 125-128.

Orem, D. E., & Taylor, S. G. (1986). Orem’s general theory of nursing. In P. Winstead-Fry (Ed.), Case studies in nursing theory (pp. 37–71). New York: National League for Nursing.

Popper, K. R. (1965). Conjectures and refutations: The growth of scientific knowledge. New York, NY: Harper and Row.

White, J. (1995). Patterns of knowing: Review, critique, and update. Advances in Nursing Science, 17(4), 73-86.

Willis, D. G., & Leone-Sheehan, D. M. (2019). Spiritual knowing: Another pattern of knowing in the discipline. Advances in Nursing Science, 42, 58–68. https://doi.org/10.1097/ANS.0000000000000236


3 thoughts on “What If? Random Thoughts of Sleepers Awake

  1. Thank you for this very fun and thought provoking post. Having a space to reflect on and share random thinking is playful, inspiring and informative– most enjoyable! Adding to the list…
    What if nursologists were recognized as so essential to population health that health policies would not be conceived of or passed without their input.
    What if nursologists were recognized as leaders with such deep and specialized knowledge that a reporter could not complete a story on health, health care, or health policy without including the perspective from one or several nursologists.
    What if nursology students were prepared to promote their work and their contributions to health and to care in a way that would make nursology better understood by a larger number of people.
    What if nursologists saw themselves as society-level healers and change agents — committed to transforming systems in a way that would allow for greater health and equity at the individual and society level.

    Mason, D. J., Nixon, L., Glickstein, B., Han, S., Westphaln, K., Carter, L. (2018). The Woodhull study revisited: Nurses’ representation in health news media 20 years later. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 50, 695-704.
    Mason, D. J., Glickstein, B., Westphaln, K. (2018, October). Journalists’ experiences with using nurses as sources in health news stories. The American Journal of Nursing, 118(10), 42-50.


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