How the Nursing Philosophy of Intermodernism Changed the Way I See the World as a Novice Nurse Scientist

When I started my PhD program, I had no idea how important philosophy would become in my life. Fast forward to now, as a PhD candidate, my nursing philosophy is the cornerstone for how I look at the world and how I perform research as novice nurse scientist. But, this is not to say that prior to my PhD program I didn’t value philosophy! I always had a strong affection for philosophy. When I was in 6th grade, I remember sitting in my government and politics course and being absolutely enthralled with discussions about John Locke (I mean, how cool is the idea of tabula rasa?). In my late teens and early twenties, I began my fascination with eastern philosophies related to yoga and Buddhism. But, even though I had been a nurse since I was 22, I never learned about the philosophy of nursing. It wasn’t until I started my PhD program at age 27 where nursing philosophy even became a part of my nursing knowledge base. Once I wrapped my head around complex areas of philosophical inquiry such as epistemology and ontology, it was like a light bulb went off in a dark room that I had previously been stumbling around in — I finally had a way to make sense of the world as a nurse!

Pamela Reed

            The philosophy that changed it all for me was the philosophy of nursing science and practice called Intermodernism (Reed, 2019). Intermodernism, which was originally titled as neomodernism (1995, 2006a, 2006b), is unique in that it is an expanded view of epistemology where practice and science partner to create new knowledge originally developed by Dr. Pamela Reed (Reed, 2018). Nursing practice, and the nurses within, thus become a source of knowledge, and not just a repository of the knowledge (Reed, 2018) developed in the ivory tower. This is not to say the academe is not important, instead, intermodernism acknowledges the necessity of partnership in knowledge development; the theory-practice gap becomes the theory-practice connection, and ALL nurses are recognized as the theorists they are. Being a theorist is often put on a pedestal, where theory is an intimidating and unrelatable aspect of the academic world. Intermodernism cleverly acknowledges that nurses theorize every day in their practice. And, if you don’t believe that, just ask a nurse to explain how they solved a problem on their last shift, this is theorizing at its finest.

            This is just the tip of the iceberg with intermodernism, and as much as I could ramble on about the ins-and-outs about intermodernism, I invite you to explore some of the literature related to intermodernism on your own. My rationale for this invitation is that it is important in philosophical inquiry to take time for “arm chair work” (as Dr. Reed has very wisely taught me), which is sitting, thinking, reading, and repeating that process – and for me I would add, when you run into a philosophical conundrum or question talk to someone about it!

Comic Art by XKCD

That is why I invite you to explore the new philosophy section on If you are new to philosophy, don’t get intimidated as we have provided some beginning definitions of at first kind of scary but actually really interesting words such as epistemology and ontology. You will also find lists of substantive literature in both nursing ontology and epistemology. Intermodernism also has it’s very own page here, where I have listed the most relevant articles for your enjoyment. These pages will be continued to be added to, so be sure to check back, and if you think something is missing we would love to hear your suggestions!


Reed, P. G. (1995). A treatise on nursing knowledge development for the 21st century: beyond postmodernism. Advances in Nursing Science, 17(3), 70-84. Retrieved from

Reed, P. G. (2006a). The practice turn in nursing epistemology. Nursing Science Quarterly, 19(1), 36-38.

Reed, P. G. (2006b). Commentary on neomodernism and evidence-based nursing: implications for the production of nursing knowledge. Nurs Outlook, 54(1), 36-38.

Reed, P. G. (2018). A philosophy of nursing science and practice: Intermodernism. In P. G. Reed & N. B. C. Shearer (Eds.), Nursing knowledge and theory innovation: Advancing the science of practice (2nd ed., pp. 21-46). Springer Publishing Company.

Reed, P. G. (2019). Intermodernism: A philosophical perspective for development of scientific nursing theory. Advances in Nursing Science, 42(1), 17-27.

6 thoughts on “How the Nursing Philosophy of Intermodernism Changed the Way I See the World as a Novice Nurse Scientist

    • Thanks Jane! I was trying to align it with the new school year so I can share with newly matriculated students into their PhD and DNP Programs. I will be at the IPONS panel this week too, so let me know if I can chime in at all about it!


  1. Thanks for this, Chloe. I am excited to read these articles (and assign them in class… 🙂 )! Without yet having done so, I’m loving the change to “inter”modernism because it reflects the continuous process of growing, changing, learning, an questioning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dr. Dickinson! Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and letting me know that you are going to assign them in class! I would LOVE to hear what students think, please keep me in mind if your students make any comments!

      With gratitude,


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