The Nursology Initiative in the Philippines

Contributor: Rudolf Cymorr Kirby P. Martinez, Ph.D.

Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) is the largest and the national referral center for pediatric cases in the Philippines. I started my professional journey here as a staff nurse after I finished my MA in nursing, and soon after, I completed my Ph.D. I transitioned to academia. After eight years from the time I resigned as a staff nurse, I was appointed as the consultant nursologist of the hospital. This is the first time a nurse assumes a consultancy role in PCMC and the first time that the official designation is that of consultant nursologist. How it came about was serendipitous, to say the least. It all started during the pandemic when the inherent weakness of health care institutions, especially in a developing country like the Philippines, was exposed because of the pandemic’s burden. During this time, the value of nurses received the much-needed attention they deserve. Also, around this time, I realized the fragility of life and the uncertainty of things because of the pandemic. As I was looking for a way to help nurses working in the service sector, one of my mentees in graduate school mentioned that their hospital is currently creating initiatives for their nurses. This hospital was my former employer, PCMC.

I took the initiative to write a letter offering my expertise as a nursologist to the institution’s executive director, Dr. Julius Lecciones, whose office is taking the lead on creating this initiative for nurses. I wrote in the letter how a nursologist could benefit not only the nurses in the hospital but ultimately the children whose lives they are caring for. As a response to the letter, I was given an audience with the department managers, physicians, and some nurse supervisors. During the presentation, I focused on explaining what nursology is all about and proposed a framework for how the expertise of a nursologist could benefit the hospital and its community.

Why “Nursology”?

In the Philippine context, all people educated in nurses are called “nars” (nurse) regardless of where they practice. But most people would associate nurses with those who are working in the service sector as practitioners. (We do not have advanced practice in the Philippines at the moment) so all nurses working in the service sector are “the nurses” in the eyes of the general population. There is a prevailing belief that the penultimate role and function of a nurse in the hospital setting, not academe or research, that to work in the hospital is their reason for being. This is the reason why I deliberately choose “nursologist” to somehow bring into the consciousness of people that nursing is a professional discipline and its practice is not only confined within the four walls of the hospital. From there, I hope that the label we use for nurses will evolve into nursology and its different expressions. I have the same appreciation of nursology similar to some of the contributors from nursology.net, that is it “A name for discipline of nursing, a body of knowledge, a research methodology, and a practice methodology about and for phenomena of concern to nurses” (see “An Invitation to Dialogue about Disciplinary Terms. I am also heavily influenced by Rogerian Science of Unitary Human Beings and the Theory of Nursing as Caring by Boykin & Schoenhoffer: A caring practice means that the knowledge of nursing is expressed by the nurse with the intent to be caring, and their expressions are appreciated by the other person as caring actions.  In addition, I believe that nursology is grounded in the fundamental patterns of knowing in nursing, first identified by Barbara Carper in 1978.

Launching the Nursology Initiative

During the initial talk on the establishment of the Nursology Initiative, I gave a presentation and emphasized in it the unique perspective that a nursologist could bring to the table in terms of nursing research, practice innovation, and creating a center for caring practice. After the presentation, they accepted the framework and further suggested that as part of the consultancy, I will also be a part of the institution’s multi-sector governance council (MSGC), where my expertise as a nursologist would provide a unique perspective on various issues tackled within the board.

Besides being part of the MSGC, my role as a consultancy nursologist is to assist the institution by providing insights, technical inputs, and expertise grounded on nursology on the following matters:

  • Development of a nursing research unit that focuses on human-health research and EBP grounded on nursology
  • Practice innovation with an emphasis on palliative care and caring science
  • Creation of a Center for Caring Practice

I also give short lectures on nursology and other nursing-related topics when needed. I was also given a permanent column for their newsletter aptly called “The Nursologist Corner,” where I share my opinion on issues concerning nursing, health, and wellness sent to me by various members of the community

This was the initial nature of my engagement with the institution as we are continuously exploring the nature of this partnership since this is the first of its kind in the Philippines. The PCMC Nursology Initiative Program is initially under the Executive Director’s Office, and the consultant nursologist liaise directly with the executive director.

During the contract signing, I gave a message to the administrators and nurse managers present, emphasizing that although society needs the expertise of nurses as clinicians, it is not the end-of-it of nursing. There is more to nursing than bedside practice. It is not the clinical skill that makes a nurse a nurse; it is our unique perspective and appreciation of things grounded in our disciplinary body of knowledge. I believe that one of the essential roles of a nursologist in a hospital is the empowerment of nurses and, with it, the advancement of their clinical practice. Nursologists help in creating systems and processes that allow for the empowerment of nurses to happen.

For so long, nurses in the Philippines are seen as second-class health care providers, merely skilled technicians, simply because it seems that some nurses have forgotten their unique disciplinary perspectives and are operating in a system that is not grounded in nursing. As I envision, a nursologist could help nurses remember who they are and the unique perspective they could offer.

An initiative such as the consultant nursologist might offer another model for bridging the gap between the science that is nursing and the art by which it is practiced in the clinical setting.

Memorandum of Agreement signing with Dr. Julius Lecciones, PCMC’s Executive Director,
June 10, 2021
Dr. Lecciones giving his opening message and sharing the story of how the Nursology Initiative came to be. The short program was department managers of various offices and nurse supervisors (those in green scrub suits).
Dr. Lecciones and me surrounded by the audience at the signing ceremony

About Rudolf Cymorr Kirby P. Martinez, Ph.D

Rudolf Cymorr Kirby P. Martinez, Ph.D., is currently the consultant nursologist of Philippine Children’s Medical Center and is a full-time Professor at San Beda University College of Nursing. He also teaches part-time at the graduate school program of Arellano University, Florentino Cayco Memorial School Graduate School of Nursing, and Holy Angels University – School of Nursing and Allied Medical Science. He is an advocate of nursology, caring science, and palliative care and consider himself a scholar of Rogerian Science of Unitary Human Being. His current advocacy includes the decolonization of nursing education through the integration of caring science and indigenous culture and folkloric practices into the nursing curricula.

3 thoughts on “The Nursology Initiative in the Philippines

  1. Congratulations Dr. Martinez! Where can I find out more about your work on decolonizing nursing education through the integration of indigenous culture and folkloric practices into nursing curricula?

    Like

  2. Dr. Martinez, you are leading the way – not only in The Philippines, but world-wide, with your visionary practice and your thoroughly thought-through and clear articulation of the gift of nursing, regardless of setting or role. Thank you for your caring leadership!

    Like

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