Honoring our Heritage, Building our Future

Today we are adopting a new nursology.net tag line “Honoring our Heritage, Building our Future” in concert with the annual focus in May of each year on nursing and nurses, anchored around  Florence Nightingale’s birth date – May 12, 1820. Almost 100 years later, nursology theorist Martha E. Rogers was born on the same date in 1914.  These two giants of nursology history, and many others, have built the foundation from which we move forward in the quest to understand human health experiences.  We have asked members of our nursology.net management team to share particular “heritages” that stand out for them as significant. Here are our responses:  

Leslie H. Nicoll – The Nursing Editors History Project

Leslie Nicoll

A few years ago, Peggy Chinn and I had an “Aha!” moment when we realized there was no archive or complete listing of the women and men who have served as editors of scholarly nursing journals. We believe this is a serious omission and sought to create such a resource and thus, the Nursing Editors History Project (NEHP) was born. The NEHP is a venture between the Dolan Collection at the School of Nursing at the University of Connecticut; along with Peggy and me, Carol Polfroni is providing leadership to the project. You can visit the site at nehp.uconn.edu.

If we consider Florence Nightingale to be the founder of nursology, then our profession is relatively young, spanning less than 200 years. There has always been a focus on education and scholarship in nursology; the first disciplinary journals were published starting in the 1880s. In the US, the American Journal of Nursing published its inaugural issue in 1900. It has been published continuously ever since. Other journals with long and distinguished histories include Sygeplejersken (“The Nurse,” in Danish, since 1901); the Canadian Nurse (Canada, 1905); Nursing Times (United Kingdom, 1905); Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand (1908); and the Philippine Journal of Nursing (1926).

Editors of professional journals play an important role as gatekeepers of practice innovations, research findings, and other information that is disseminated through the published literature. The impact of the editor is profound and influential. Given that, you might think that an easy-to-use listing of editors would have been maintained over the years–but it has not. In the absence of such a list, you might think you could go to the online home of a journal and search through the digitized collection to find editor information. Go ahead and try to do that. You will find, as we did, that journal archives include that published articles but they do not include the “front matter,” that is, the pages that list the editor, associated editorial staff, editorial board members, and information about the publisher. Thus, the archive for a journal represents just one dimension of the publication. What is missing is the knowledge of the people who were in charge, in particular, the editor–whose voice was important, influential, and must be heard.

The NEHP has been growing slowly. At present, it includes 34 journals with publishing histories ranging from 100+ years to 9. We have learned that tracking down editor information–especially for some of the older journals–takes time and effort. Finding pictures is even harder! This realization has impressed upon us the importance of the NEHP and the need to capture this information before it disappears completely. Our goal is to be comprehensive, both at the individual journal level as well as in the breadth of nursology journals that are included in the NEHP. We welcome submissions to the NEHP from editors, publishers, and librarians. When submitted information is comprehensive and accurate we are able to quickly list the journal in the database. You can read more about the process here: https://nehp.uconn.edu/submissions/

Florence Nightingale was a meticulous data collector, prodigious correspondent, and author of books and articles. As far as I can determine, she was never a journal editor, but I am sure she held the editors those journals published in her life in high esteem–as we should. The NEHP truly “honors our heritage” by capturing essential information about the leaders of scholarly publication in nursology.

Adeline Falk-Rafael – Returning to our Roots

Adeline Falk-Rafael

It is only fitting that we honor nursing’s past each year around the time of Florence Nightingale’s birthday.   She was a remarkable woman and visionary. In many ways, she reflected the thinking of her day, i.e., that social, economic, and political factors greatly influenced (often adversely in vulnerable populations) the potential to be healthy. She believed that compassion, therefore, must include social and political activism focused on changing laws and the conditions that adversely affected health for many and  led by example (Falk Rafael 1999). Many examples have been documented and extend beyond policies in the UK to international efforts (Falk-Rafael 2005).  Nightingale’s focus on promoting the health of populations was evident in the first nursing program she established, in which one entire year was dedicated to health nursing of communities.

Her model of health nursing, including social and political advocacy influenced early nursing leaders elsewhere in the world, as well.  I know first hand of her influence in Canada, e.g, in the work of the Victorian Order of Nurses, and the U.S., in the work of Lillian Wald who added the word public to health nursing. She and other nurses of the Henry Street Settlement (more information here)  followed Nightingale’s example in advocating for social and political reform to create conditions that were more conducive to health (Falk-Rafael 2005) .  I hope nurses from other parts of the world will add  further examples of Nightingales influence on nursing elsewhere.

Finally, honoring our heritage  must, I believe include those women who provided nursing and health care before or during Nightingales time. Mary Seacole, was a Jamaican nurse who also cared for soldiers in the Crimean War. In Canada, centuries before Nightingale, women in religious orders and pioneer women, such as Jeanne Mance in the 17th and 18th century provided nursing care to communities. They also understood the necessity of advocating for laws and societal reforms to move toward social justice and health equity.  And, I think of the nurses who fought for womens rights and the abolition of slavery like Sojourner Truth  and Harriet Tubman. Many others are also profiled on the Nurse Manifest Gallery of Activism Inspirations.

Our heritage is nursing practiced from a nursing paradigm before the rise of a dominant biomedical model that can shape and limit our conceptualizations of health and its promotion. We can learn from the examples of those who have gone before. I believe that Nursology, by making visible the nursing science which informs nursing practice can help nurses reclaim their authentic nursing identity.

Jacqueline Fawcett – Florence Nightingale’s Contributions to Martha E. Rogers’ Thinking and Development of the Science of Unitary Human Beings

Jacqueline Fawcett

Martha E. Rogers (1992) contributed a marvelous essay to the Commenorative edition of Florence Nightingale’s classic book, Notes on nursing: What it is and what it is not. She began her essay with these words:

Florence Nightingale’s Notes on Nursing is an exciting and far-reaching compendium of ideas and statements concerning the purposes and scope of nursing, the essentials of good nursing practice, and the variety of providers of nursing that existed in her purview. With consummate skill and cogent humor, she decries the fallacies of health practices and the superstitions that existed among the public and in particular health workers. (p. 58)   

Rogers went on to point out that much of what Nightingale wrote is as relevant today as it was in the middle 1800s. She noted that Nightingale’s vision of the need for “human compassion, a broad knowledge base, intelligent reasoning, and understanding” (p. 58) were particularly relevant in the 1990s, and I will add, are even more relevant—indeed crucial—in the 21st century.    

Furthermore, Rogers (1978, 1992) traced her own dual concern with human beings and their environments to Nightingale. She explained, “Rogerian science of irreducible human beings provides a framework rooted in a new reality and directed toward moving us from what might be called a pre-scientific era to a scientific era. Certainly Nightingale laid a firm foundation for this kind of an approach to nursing knowledge and its use” (Rogers, 1992, p. 61).

oward the end of her essay, Rogers (1992) further emphasized the importance of Nightingale’s work for all of us today. She wrote that Nightingale’s ideas not only are meaningful today but also provide a firm foundation as nurses move forward in the development of nursing as a science in its own right, and make way for knowledgable directions that enable nurses to practice based on their own phenomena of concern. It is the uniqueness of nursing that makes it important, not the ways in which it is like other fields.

Rogers (1992) concluded that section of her essay by exhorting us to carefully consider Nightingale’s comment “that medicine and nursing should never be mixed up, since it spoils both” (p. 61).

I am certain that both Florence Nightingale and Martha E. Rogers would agree that the proper name for our discipline is nursology and that the members of the discipline are appropriately referred to as nursologists. I also am certain that both would applaud the development of nursology.net as a repository for all things theoretical in nursology!

References

Rogers, M. E. (1978, December). Nursing science: A science of unitary man. Paper presented at Second Annual Nurse Educator Conference, New York. [Audiotape.]

Rogers, M. E. (1992). Nightingale’s notes on nursing: Prelude to the 21st century. In F.N. Nightingale, Notes on nursing: What it is, and what it is not (Commemorative edition, pp. 58–62). Philadelphia: Lippincott.

Marlaine Smith – Standing on the Shoulders of the Giants of Nursology

Marlaine Smith

As we approach the birthdays of Florence Nightingale and Martha Rogers on May 12th I’m reminded that we are standing on the shoulders of the giants of nursology.  What is my responsibility as I stand on these shoulders? First, is to acknowledge and cite the work of the giants who have come before us. At times I hear newer ones to our discipline speak of a great new idea or concept that I know was actually something that was advanced by previous scholars and is in the literature.  This certainly is not the fault of the newer members coming into our professional discipline. It is our responsibility of faculty and mentors to expose students of nursology to the wisdom of our heritage. As Peggy Chinn admonished us in her blog, let’s  get rid of the instructions to students that they should only review the past five years of the literature.  Our students need to be introduced in the most engaging way to the seminal writings of our foremothers and forefathers.  Would any undergraduate psychology student not be introduced to  Freud, Piaget, Erikson? Absolutely not! Our challenge is to create opportunities for the past work of our scholarly giants to come from the shadows into the light.  In my BSN program I was briefly introduced to Florence Nightingale…just by name…Do you know what I remember? …only that I heard that Florence Nightingale died of syphilis.  While this is not true, that myth was propagated widely and it diminished us. When I began my Masters program I had to read Notes on Nursing as part of my theory course.  I was filled with amazement and pride that this courageous, brilliant woman discovered the human-health-environment-caring connections that ground nursology today.  Let’s give this gift to our students by studying the giants of the past. By standing on the shoulders of the giants of nursology we can reach lofty heights. The most beautiful buildings need strong foundations.  They cannot exist without them. In order to build our professional discipline to new heights we must build on our disciplinary, theoretical foundations. In this way, we are truly building NURSOLOGY. This doesn’t mean staying within the limits of the past.  We are free to innovate, create, change, renovate, regenerate as we reach for the possibilities of what nursology can bring to the world.

 

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