The Intersections of Nursing Scholarship and Nursing Activism

In the early 1980s  when Maeona Kramer and I first began to put together ideas for a text on theory development in nursing, we were committed to addressing nursing knowledge development beyond the typical boundaries of empirical research and theory development.  We had both completed, in 1971,  doctoral degrees in Educational Psychology (Maeona at Wayne State University in Detroit, and me at the University of Utah) focusing on theory development in education (nursing doctoral degrees at the time were few and far between).  For that first edition we drew on the work of a psychologist named Zygmunt Piotrowsky (1971)  who had proposed that the development of knowledge required contributions from scholars with different personalities, some who were drawn to theoretical abstract thought, and some who were drawn to concrete empirical “laboratory” science. 

In 1987 when we embarked on the 2nd revision of our book now titled “Knowledge Development in Nursing” we introduced Carper’s fundamental patterns of knowing in nursing, which gave us a starting point for narrative clearly grounded in the discipline of nursing. In the 3rd edition (1991) we turned our attention to revising our language from the stilted tradition of what was once considered scholarly writing to language that was more accessible and gender neutral.  By 1999, we realized that simply listing and describing Carper’s patterns of knowing fell short; we needed to project ways in which knowledge is developed for each pattern of knowing.  This evolution made it possible to articulate our belief that nursing knowledge encompasses so much more than that which can be studied empirically.  However, we continued to have this sense that something was missing, and in 2008 we articulated the emancipatory pattern of knowing. 

It was the growing and compelling body of nursing literature focused on critical social theory, socio-political knowing, and social justice that gave us the impetus, in 2008, to develop the emancipatory pattern of knowing. We see this not as simply a fifth pattern of knowing, but rather as the fundamental human capability to see a situation, recognize that something is amiss, and create ways to change the situation – an ongoing process in creating nursing knowledge that is necessary for the development of knowledge related to any of the four fundamental patterns of knowing.   

We had finally arrived at the intersection of social activism and the development of nursing knowledge.  But what does this really mean?  It is now over a decade since we first conceptualized what emancipatory knowing means, and the possibilities that this pattern of knowing holds for the future development of nursing.  We have been puzzled by the fact that it took us so long to see the connections and have speculated why this might be so (the long-standing subservient positions of women and nurses, the socialization to avoid that which is political, the dominant concern with one-to-one “bedside” care, etc. etc.). 

The fact has been that nurses, dating from the earliest days of the profession, have engaged in social and political activism, but have remained reticent to fully embrace social activism as a core nursing concern. Maeona and I both had been actively involved in the 1980’s effort to advance feminism in nursing through the work of “Cassandra: Radical Feminist Nurses Network.”  In 2000, Richard Cowling, Sue Hagedorn and I  wrote “A Nursing Manifesto: A Call to Conscience and Action,” acknowledging that at its core, nursing itself is “political” in the sense that politics is the ability to advance one’s own values in a public context.  Every time a nurse acts to bring nursing values into action, bends over backwards, jumps through hoops, and does cartwheels to obtain what individuals and families and communities need to be healthy, we are acting politically.  We are activists.  

The values of our discipline, expressed eloquently in the theories and conceptual models that form our foundation, guide our thoughts, words and actions. At the same time, our intimate engagement with others as we practice nursing, also informs what we think and do, opening awareness of ways to challenge, question and re-design the nature of our discipline.  The social and political contexts we face in this moment call for a new awareness of distortions, prejudices, stereotypes, social injustices amplified by racism. What is happening in this moment of time has raised alarm bells and demands that we turn our gaze on ways in which we nurses, individually and collectively have been complicit. The situation we find ourselves in today calls for nurses, and particularly white nurses, to finally recognize the dynamics of racism that infect our own “house” and start the tedious, and yet ultimately rewarding, process of healing.

In facing this challenge, we will begin to understand the dynamics of the widespread public health crisis of racism in ways never before attempted.  The development of knowledge demands that we understand the problem, explore the dynamics that sustain the problem, seek new ways to prevent and change those circumstances that perpetrate the crisis, and heal those who are affected.  There are theories and philosophies of our discipline that can guide us as we move forward.  Here are a few to consider:

This website – Nursology.net – is accomplishing the very important purpose of bringing to the fore the rich traditions and values expressed in the theories, models and philosophies of our discipline.  And now the time has come to recognize the ways in which the practices, attitudes, philosophies and thought patterns that derived predominantly from white perspectives are lacking.  This reality now calls for activism of a type not often recognized – a sustained and determined challenge that can change our own disciplinary ways of thought and action.  This does not mean in any way that we discard or denigrate our foundation, or that we disrespect the ways in which our own scholarly work has real value.  What it does mean is that we examine our accomplishments through a new lens, and recognize ways in which we need to re-direct course.  

Take as an example my theory and practice of “Peace and Power.” This theory was inspired in part by the Brazilian scholar and activist Paulo Freire (1970), and is closely aligned with practices commonly used in native American cultures and in Quaker communities. Yet people of color have also challenged this process as reflecting colonized white privilege – despite the commitment embedded in the processes that seek to dismantle power inequities in group processes.  Part of this challenge came from the early descriptions of the process that clearly reflected the concerns of white women and defined by white feminists. The fact is that the lens through which I view these ideas bear “decolonization.” What this means exactly is still in process, requiring a deep deconstruction of the Euro-centric assumptions on which the theory and process is built.  How this will affect the theory itself remains to be seen, and may be actually accomplished by scholars of the future!  

The time has come to shift this process in to high gear – to recognize the ways we have silenced the voices of many of those we claim to serve, ways in which we have excluded nurses of color from participating in our efforts to develop the knowledge of the discipline, and ways in which white nurses have in fact dehumanized, disrespected and excluded nurses of color from full participation in the practices, leadership and development of the discipline.  This is not an activist project that can happen in one or two “training” sessions addressing “diversity, inclusion and equity.” Nor can it be accomplished by performative actions such as recruiting more people of color, or curriculum revisions.  Although of course these kinds of actions are warranted and need to happen they will not in themselves end the inequities and injustices of racism.  There are no formulas.  

I believe that the activist commitment of all nurses now and going forward is to learn all we can about the mechanisms of both systemic and everyday racism, question each choice we make in light of our growing awareness, challenge one another with loving kindness, and create spaces that challenge white privilege.  The “Overdue Reckoning on Racism in Nursing” discussion series has now ended but in those discussions we established a starting point, including important resources for becoming well informed about the challenges we face. Now we have new actions to continue this work, centering nurses of color and engaging white nurses in meaningful processes consistent with the ideals of “truth and reconciliation.”  

While these actions are labeled as “activism” they are also vital in shaping nursing knowledge going forward.  Becoming immersed in social and political activism to address the public health crisis of racism, guided by the values of our discipline, we provide the best of nursing care to heal ourselves, to heal the damaging effects of racism in our communities, and build a stronger future.  We create the ‘hermeneutic circle” of thought and action – where our actions inform how we think, and how we think shapes our action in a constant process that changes and shapes both thought and action going forward.

Sources

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy 0f the oppressed. Seabury Press.

Piotrowski, Z. A. (1971). Basic System of All Sciences. In H. J. Vetter & B. D. Smith (Eds.), Personality Theory: A Source Book (pp. 2–18). Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Virtual Nursology Theory Week March 17-24, 2021!

View Nursology Theory Conference Site!
Invitation to discuss terminology
!

Details for a Virtual Nursology Week 2021 have just been announced on the Nursology Theory Conference website! This virtual conference will be a combination of the March 2020 program that was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and a transition to what we can anticipate when we are able to gather at the University of Tennessee in Memphis, which we hope will happen in the spring of 2022!

Since our 2021 conference will be a virtual event, we decided to deviate from the intense 2-day format that works well when we all travel to be together in one place, but creates an unbearable experience of staring at our screens for far too many hours at a time! There will be three general sessions from 10 am to noon (Eastern) on Wednesday March 17th, Monday March 22nd, and Wednesday March 24th. Every day of that week, there will be a schedule of stand-alone 30-minute sessions during which the breakout sessions will be available! Attendees will be able to attend as many of the sessions as you wish – even every single one of them if you so desire!

We are in the process of setting up the details of this plan, and have been in touch with everyone who had an abstract accepted for 2020 so that they can select the time for their breakout session. There will be times available for a few additional breakout sessions, so we will be announcing additional abstract submissions soon.

If you registered for the 2020 conference and asked to have your registration held for the 2021 conference – you are all set, and you will receive confirmation of your registration soon. Registration for those who have not yet registered will be open by November 1st – so watch for details coming soon! Links to all of the conference activities will be available to those who register on an “honor system” basis!

Follow the Nursology Theory Conference website for details on abstract submissions, registration, and breakout sessions! Here are the details for the general sessions to wet your appetite for attending this series of important events!

Wednesday March 17, 10 am to noon (Eastern)
  • Panel discussion honoring the contributions of Rosemary Ellis
  • Keynote address by Patricia Davidson, PHD, MED, RN, FAAN. Professor and Dean, School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University – topic: Is STEM and Nursing Theory an Oxymoron?
  • Open Discussion
Monday, March 22 – 10 am to noon (Eastern)
  • Student/Early-career Scholars Panel: Emerging Possibilities for the Focus of the Discipline
Wednesday, March 24 – 10 am to noon (Eastern)

The planning team members for 2021 are:

  • Leslie H. Nicoll, PhD, MBA, RN, conference planner extraordinaire! and Nursology.net management team member
  • Deborah Lindell, DNP, MSN, RN, CNE, ANEF, FAAN, Case Western Reserve Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing faculty and Nursology.net management team. member
  • J. Carolyn Graff, PhD, RN, FAAIDD, University of Tennessee Memphis faculty
  • Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-Bc, FAANP, Dean, College of Nursing University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center
  • Peggy Chinn, RN, PhD, DSc(Hon), FAAN, Web manager for Nursology.net and NursingTheoryConference.com

Celebration! 2nd Anniversary of Nursology.net

. . . . it is worth reiterating the point that compared with atheoretical actions, those that are conceptually grounded have a higher probability of achieving their intended consequences. Not just because they are contemplated more intentionally but because the vast majority of . . . . theories/frameworks pay heed to the important messiness of context and the use of power. (1) Patricia Butterfield (2017, p. 9)

Nurses are thirsting for a meaningful practice, one that is based on nursing values and knowledge, one that is relationship centered, enabling the expression of the depth of our mission, and one that brings a much needed, missing dimension to current healthcare. (2) Margaret A. Newman, Marlaine C. Smith, Margaret Dexheimer Pharris and Dorothy Jones (2008, p. E25)

With a strong conviction of the vital importance of nursing’s own theories and frameworks, the Nursology.net management team embarked on the development of a website to provide current and accurate information about discipline-specific knowledge. We started the development of the site in the summer of 2018, with the goal of publicly announcing the site once we had at least 20 theories/models on the site, and at least 1 Exemplar in each of the “Exemplar” sections! We met that goal and officially launched the site on September 18th, 2018! Today, we have

Plus, a new section dedicated to nursing philosophy, a host of resources related to nursology knowledge development, a record of past nursology-related conferences (including proceedings, photos and other materials related to the conferences), information about events that will be happening in the future (despite the pandemic), and an unbroken record of blog posts every Tuesday!

I, Peggy Chinn, have served as the architect of the site and am responsible for the nitty-gritty work of putting it all together, but all of this is only possible because of the work of members of our team of nursology scholars who have identified and composed the content.

Here are reflections from members of our management and blogging teams in response to two questions:

  • How has nursology.net influenced your approach to teaching, research, or practice?
  • What do you anticipate for the future of the discipline, and the role of nursology.net in shaping that future?

How has nursology.net influenced your approach to teaching, research, or practice?

Jacqui Fawcett
The website is exceptionally useful as a resource for the PhD students I have the honor to teach, as well as all other students in our program., and as resource for colleagues who are “thirsting” for information about nursology discipline-specific knowledge. In addition, I cite the blogs in many of my publications—journal articles, book chapters—and presentations at conferences and as a guest lecturer for other nursology programs.

Marlaine Smith
When I’m with any student or faculty group I call attention to the nursology.net site and describe the many resources available.  I’m teaching a course now for PhD students, Evolution of Nursing as a Professional Discipline.  In the first module I introduced students to Nursology and they were invited in the discussion board to respond to a question related to the Nursology site.  I have received so many comments from students and faculty who are amazed at and grateful for the many resources on the site. The Nursology blogs offer short position/perspective pieces that can spark meaningful discussion.

Dr. Eustace

Rosemary Eustice
Nursology.net is a vehicle that highlights the contribution of nursology wisdom to health and health care issues. The website continues to influence my teaching by enabling me to find new teaching and learning strategies that foster students’ acquisition of nursing knowledge to understand nursing phenomena of interest.  One thing that inspires me everyday when I share this website with my students, is to see how much the students appreciate the value of nursing theories and how much they wish for ‘good’ mentors and educators to support the next generation of competent nursologists. On the other note, as a nurse researcher, nursology.net has increased my curiosities on nursing knowledge development and how nursologists can utilize research in clarifying and developing new concepts/ideas using nursing lenses. 

Dorothy Jones
I am impressed with the global response to the nursology.net website. When I have shared this information with faculty and students at a University in Spain where I consult, the reaction has been inspirational. Doctoral students love having “free” access to the nursing theorists and their work in one central space. Faculty describe the site as “a way to connect with the nursing community “globally.” Dr. Emiko Endo from Japan recently translated a nursology blog “Covid 19- What would Margaret Newman Say” into Japanese for her students. She also presented the information to participants attending a virtual Nursing Theory Conference. Dr. Endo reported how moved the audience was by the message. When I shared the web site with a group of International Gordon International Scholars at Boston College, from Italy, Brazil and Africa they were excited to learn about the site and immediately shared it with the other faculty and students.  They noted that they now had immediate access to information about nursing theory never available to them before. The responsiveness of the site to contemporary issues makes nursology.net a living document that promotes nursing knowledge and its potential impact on the health and wellbecoming of all.

Jane Flanagan
I am teaching a new course this year – Philosophical Inquiry for Knowledge Development in Nursing.  I introduced my students to nursology.netas well as the faculty of a companion course – Strategies for Knowledge Development in Nursing. For my course, we will be using the site for the many resources it offers. I have encouraged them to read and respond to the blogs.  I think if I was to have a re-do on my syllabus, I would actually have an assignment include a meaningful contribution to the site. These students are our future nurse leaders and I know like many on this site, we want to hear from them. We have only had one class thus far, but based on the great dialogue, I think they will be joining in on the conversations on nursology.net

Jane Dickinson
I am pointing students to nursology.net in the Nursing Knowledge in Nursing Education course I teach for doctoral students in our Nursing Education program. I also have them write a blog post and an exemplar (if applicable) for submission to nursology.net as course assignments. Nursology.net is an amazing resource where students can learn about nursing theorists and their work. It also provides a wonderful opportunity for them to think and write about their own experiences with nursing knowledge.

Chloe Olivia Rose Littzen
As a PhD candidate, Nursology.net has influenced both my nursing education and the ways in which I know the world. Specifically, Nursology.net was one of the few references I was able to use for specific theory related nursing knowledge content in studying for my comprehensive exams.The organization of theory-related content made it easy for me to find what type of information I needed, and I knew that the information included was substantive in nature. As a nurse, Nursology.net has also informed the ways I know the world by keeping me up-to-date on current issues and events, while simultaneously giving me access to new nursing knowledge content I may have never come across during my own reading. 

Danny Willis
In the PhD course “Nursing Knowledge Development” I have been teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison we used the resources on nursology.net to guide our thinking. PhD students  were thirsty to explore the philosophical, conceptual, theoretical, and empirical aspects of the discipline in research, education, practice, and policy. Great examples are showcased on the website, which they enjoyed! As these PhD students prepare for their research and future programs of disciplinary knowledge development as leaders in the discipline, through the website they were better able to understand the value of grounding their work in the discipline, which feels like a Wonderful move in the right direction. Nursology.net is recognized as a go-to resource with the potential for nursologists to contribute to ongoing conversation, like none other! 

Patrick Palmieri
The emerging role of nursology.net in low- and middle-income countries is impactful due to our limited access to nursing knowledge. Unfortunately, knowledge is too expensive for many nurses throughout the world. The limited financial resources in many countries negatively impacts access to nursing literature, including published papers and nursing textbooks. Through nursology.net, student nurses and professors throughout the world have immediate access to contemporary nursing knowledge, including timely theoretical discourse related to current trends and events. Most importantly, nurse scholars such as I, are able to translate the resources, without copyright issues, for immediate application in our courses. This year, we continued to advance a project to translate resources from Nursology.net into Spanish for the history of nursing and theory of nursing courses. Through the efforts of the leaders and many donors at Nursology.net, the barriers to accessing knowledge have been removed. Nursology is linking scholars to students throughout the world!

What do you anticipate for the future of the discipline, and the role of nursology.net in shaping that future?

Jacqui Fawcett
I am both pessimistic and optimistic about the future of nursology—I am very concerned that our disciplinary knowledge will not survive as a continuing way to guide disciplinary advancement—there always is a tension to focus on pragmatic aspects of issues rather than the philosophical, conceptual, and theoretical aspects, and there is much too much emphasis on empirical methods—the primacy of methods for so many people is of great concern to me. In contrast, I am encouraged by the number of people who have been accessing nursology.net and by the continued publication of multiple editions of several books about nursology conceptual models and theories. Nursology.net serves as an ongoing resource for all nursologists, with blogs and other content already shaping what nursologists think about our discipline. We definitely are living our mission to be a repository for all things theory in nursology!

Marlaine Smith
While I can despair at the lack of valuing of nursing theories/models in our research, the lack of content related to nursing theories within the curricula, and the frequent absence of a clear nursing perspective in advanced practice and interprofessional practice, I’m encouraged by signs that there is a renewed appreciation of the importance of generating nursing qua nursing knowledge and practicing from nursing’s disciplinary perspective. Some of those signs… the committed group of scholars who have been attending and contributing to the annual Nursing Theory Conferences…the growing number of AAN members joining the Nursing Theory-Guided Practice Expert Panel…the recognition by CNOs about the value of practicing from a nursing theory-guided model…the lights in the eyes of students who “get it”. Nursology.net will continue to support this emergence. The site has global outreach and can bring the nursing community together around the critical issues of expanding disciplinary knowledge development and application. 

Dr. Eustace

Rosemary Eustace
I am optimistic that the future of the discipline and the role of nursology.net will continue to find a voice in health care, especially in the area of policy making. However, this process will be timely if we continue to value and acknowledge the uniqueness of nursing knowledge in influencing health care outcomes. When I think back at what we have learned so far and are learning each day with the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, I see a window of opportunity for nursologists to advocate for this unique STEM discipline and use nursing knowledge to make positive changes in health care systems and population outcomes.   

Dorothy Jones
As a discipline we continue to experience many issues, even resistance to articulating nursing science within nursing curricula, research and care delivery.  Emphasis on preparing nurses with essential content that focus on  role development with little grounding in philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of the discipline challenges knowledge development and compromises the visibility of nursing’s impact on care delivery. While the interdisciplinary / intra professional focus on contemporary issues is critical, the unique voice of nursing is essential to informing and reshaping responses to global health concerns. While the threats to advancing nursing science are apparent, there is also indications of a renewed interest in nursing’s identity and expansion of nursing knowledge. Increasing membership in nursing theory groups, attendance at nursing theory conferences and active progress by groups such as the AAN Expert Panel of Nursing Theory Guided Practice to link nursing’s knowledge and policy, offer signs of hope for the future. Nursology.net has been an important catalyst that has supported this renewed dedication to nursing knowledge. The site provides an essential platform for all nurses to share in our history, explore our future, and increase our awareness of new opportunities for nursing’s voice to influence issues of global concern. Thank you nursology.net!

Jane Flanagan
I think we are in a time that has raised our social consciousness and many nurses are questioning our role in power dynamics, sociopolitical movements, structural racism. They are asking are we going to be part of the problem or mobilize and act?  Foundational to our discipline is our ethics aimed at striving for the greater good, health and healing for all people. We can no longer tolerate an inequitable society or health care system that does not meet the needs of those we say we are committed to serve. Nursology.net  is a forum that created the space for us to have the dialogue, work through the sometimes awkward, sometimes obvious and at other times not so obvious issues. It is a safe place that allows all nurses to think, write share and activate. Our future is in not only finding our voice, but in leading the way. Nursology.net is the format and catalyst to accelerating our movement toward a universally experienced wellbecoming.

Jane Dickinson
I see nursing knowledge (and all five ways of knowing!) becoming more prominent in nursing education, research, and practice as we move further into the 21st century. Nursology.net is the preeminent source for nurse educators and leaders in research and practice to share their work, and to inspire newer nurses to take the next step in further developing and refining what we know and what we do.

Chloe Olivia Rose Littzen
I anticipate that nursing theory and philosophy, including our unique disciplinary perspective, will come to the forefront of importance in our nursing practice, research, education, and policy. Additionally, I believe that nursing theory and philosophy will be revealed to play a significant role in the well-being of our nurses and the healthcare environment. I believe Nursology.net will support nurses to be confident and grounded in their own unique disciplinary perspective, promote the use of nursing theory and philosophy in all settings, and provide a forum in which nurses can gather from across the globe to stay up-to-date on relevant issues and events in nursing.

Danny Willis
The future is in our hands and the website will continue to play a major role in orienting nurses and our PhD, DNP, Masters, and Baccalaureate students. Nurse leaders and educators in practice settings would benefit from having this website as a part of their orientation. Therefore, I see it as my responsibility to let every Chief Nursing Officer I meet with know about this resource and offer to speak to anyone in educational leadership roles in practice settings about the website. Faculty leaders must also be aware and able to speak to the substance of the discipline, which the website acts as a vehicle for. Nurse leaders will be called upon to champion ready access to the fundamentals of nursing depicted on the website and to further the ongoing evolution of disciplinary thought and communication. The future of the discipline can be bright as we nurses promote humanization, caring, healing, relationship, love for one another, diversity, belongingness, transitioning through living and dying, meaning in living and dying, and well-becoming. The future can be bright if we nurses promote openness, dialogue, healing transformative power with each other, critique, intellectual curiosity, community, and nursing ethics of our shared humanity and a deep commitment to the greater good for all of humankind and planet Earth in all its complexity and beauty. Onward nursologists! 

Sources for the opening quotes:

  1. Butterfield, P. G. (2017). Thinking Upstream: A 25-Year Retrospective and Conceptual Model Aimed at Reducing Health Inequities. ANS. Advances in Nursing Science, 40(1), 2–11. https://doi.org/10.1097/ANS.0000000000000161
  2. Newman, M. A., Smith, M. C., Dexheimer-Pharris, M., & Jones, D. A. (2008). The focus of the discipline revisited. ANS. Advances in Nursing Science, 31(1), E16–E27. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.ANS.0000311533.65941.f1

Overdue Reckoning on Racism in Nursing

Our Nursology.net community is committed to addressing the burning issue of racism, how this systemic condition has influenced the development of nursing knowledge, and how this situation can be changed (see our statement on racism in the sidebar for more information). The NurseManifest project has just announced a series of web discussions “Overdue Reckoning on Racism in Nursing” that will interest many nursologists! Starting on September 12th, and every week through October 10th! This initiative is in part an outgrowth of the 2018 Nursing Activism Think Tank and inspired by recent spotlights on the killing of Black Americans by police, and the inequitable devastation for people of color caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Racism in nursing has persisted far too long, sustained in large part by our collective failure to acknowledge the contributions and experiences of nurses of color. The intention of each session is to bring the voices of BILNOC (Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other Nurses Of Color) to the center, to explore from that center the persistence of racism in nursing, and to inspire/form actions to finally reckon with racism in nursing.

Lucinda Canty, Christina Nyirati and Peggy Chinn have teamed up to create the plan – you can see the details here; it is also easily accessed from the NurseManifest main menu!

In case you missed it – Nursing and Racism

There seems to have been a glitch in our June 16th post titled “Nursing and Racism: Are We Part of the Problem, Part of the Solution, or Perhaps Both?” So just in case you missed it, follow this link to view, and please add your thoughts and comments to this important challenge! https://nursology.net/2020/06/16/nursing-and-racism-are-we-part-of-the-problem-or-part-of-the-solution-perhaps-both/

Nursing and Racism: Are We Part of the Problem, Part of the Solution, or Perhaps Both?

One of the first “lessons” in my now-long-ago nursing education was “the nursing process.” This was in the early 1960s, almost a decade before anyone spoke of nursing theory, but the University of Hawaii (my alma mater) had modeled the curriculum on that of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) which was designed around the ideas of Dorothy Johnson. These ideas would ultimately become known as Dorothy Johnson’s Behavioral Systems Model (See also the history of the UCLA School of Nursing, pgs 43-48).

Of course this same problem-solving process is widely used in many walks of life, and many see it as a mere pragmatic outline for making good decisions and forming appropriate action – a necessary process but several degrees removed from developing foundational knowledge of the discipline. In reflecting on the situation in which we find ourselves today I fear that as a discipline we have not adequately faced the realities before us as a discipline and as a society – both as a problem, and as a health experience. As I wrote in my January 20th post titled “Decolonizing Nursing”

Despite the fact that race and racism so repeatedly rise to the surface with a clear intent to address this issue, there is typically little or no substantive discussion that begins to reach deep down into explanations or understanding of what is really going on (see https://nursology.net/2020/01/14/decolonizing-nursing/)

I know that I am not alone in recognizing this challenge, but I continue to wonder — when and how will this begin to change? This is not merely a “political” matter — it is a matter of life and death, of health and sickness. It is a pandemic of proportions far beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has been infecting our lives for decades. In recent weeks we have witnessed the public killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, of Ahmaud Arbery shot down while jogging in February, and Breonna Tayler, an EMT with plans of becoming a nurse, killed by police in her own home in March. Then just a few days before this post published, the killing in Atlanta of 27-year-old Rayshard Brookes, shot in the back several times by police after indicating that he was able and willing to walk home to his sister’s house.

These tragic murders in plain sight, coupled with widespread recognition of the over-proportioned number of Black and Brown people suffering from COVID-19 – give us a glimmer of opportunity to finally act. The calls for change are so pervasive and so sustained, that those of us ready and willing to make change have a real opportunity to do so. And so I return to my earliest nursing education and the foundational ideas that have been baked into my very fabric – the processes of active listening and observation that are vital to assessing and “diagnosing” a problem(1).

One of the notable signs that appears in all of the protests says “I see you, I hear you.” For me, this is a key to meeting the challenge before us. It starts with our interactions among our own colleagues. Throughout my nursing career I have seen many Black nurse colleagues come and go, and every single one of the nursing faculty I have served with have repeatedly decried how “difficult” it is to recruit and retain Black nurse faculty. Yet all too rarely have I witnessed concerted, deliberate efforts by the predominantly White(2) faculty to stop, step away from our privilege, seek the authentic stories of our Black colleagues, and actively hear (understand) their experience. Equally egregious is the fact that there are myriads of situations that, viewed through a lens of anti-racist awareness, could be instantly recognized as potentially harmful to a Black person, even dangerous. But over and over again we turn a blind eye, and fail to act. I have all too often been just as complicit in all of this as anyone else – we have all been caught up, and participate in a systemic web of injustice. And I suspect that this pattern is not unique to academics – that it runs deep in every setting where nursing is practiced.

Further, there is the all-too often deflection of the problem by the insistence that the “problem” is not unique to Black people – that all lives matter. Of course all lives matter and Black people are not the only ones who suffer injustice and discrimination. But this sentiment turns the lens away from the specific voices, experiences, and challenges faced Black people. We can listen to all people – but until we listen to, and sincerely seek to understand, Black people and recognize the experiences of trauma and harm that Black people uniquely suffer, and how we participate, we will not be able to truly understand the problem.

It is undeniable that the prejudice and hate toward Black Americans, and people of African descent in many other countries is profound and amplified by the historical trauma of slavery and in the United States, the fall-out of the civil war fought to end slavery in the United States. I hear many White nurses in my circle expressing true outrage about this situation and we are all sincere in our desire to see it change, yet the problem persists. Until we White nurses face the reality of our privilege and the injustices that flow from this, until we learn ways to step away from our privilege and engage in serious anti-racism work, until we create spaces in which we can authentically engage with our Black colleagues to understand the problem, the injustices in our own house will remain.

We can all shift in the direction of being part of the solution. There are signals that point us in the direction of actions we can all take – particularly those of us who are White – to seize this moment, start to address the scourge of racism in our own house, and make real change. The circumstance of the COVID-19 shift to virtual reality offers ample opportunities for all of us to engage in antiracism work! Here are a few examples that I can personally recommend – if you start searching, you will find many many others!

  • Nurse Caroline Ortiz organized a “platica” (Spanish for discussion) held on March 9th over Zoom. Caroline recorded the session, which you can access here: https://vimeo.com/397047962. You can organize similar discussions – we are all now expert Zoom organizers!
  • African-American activist Nanette Massey holds a weekly discussion with White people from all walks of life to discuss the ideas in Robin DiAngelo’s book “White Fragility: Why It Is So Hard for White People to Talk About Race.” I have participated in many of these informative, interesting and affirming Sunday discussions. Learn more here.
  • The “Everyday Feminism” website has pages and pages of content on ethnicity and racism – https://everydayfeminism.com/tag/race-ethnicity/. Just browsing titles is a rich experience! Their 2014 post of 10 Simple Ways White People Can Step Up to Fight Everyday Racism is precisely relevant today!
  • Invest 1.5 hours into Everyday Feminism’s founder, Sandra Kim’s excellent session on “Why Healing from Internalized Whiteness is a Missing Link in White People’s Anti-Racism Work.” White nurses can benefit especially, but knowing that White people are facing this challenge, and how this can happen, can be helpful for everyone.
  • Practice generosity of spirit toward your nursing colleagues – each of us are being challenged in this moment to examine our own attitudes, actions and words. Many of us are just starting on this journey. This demands kindness and understanding toward one another as we work together, often in uncomfortable situations, to make meaningful change. Let us call forth the best we can be, and support one another with compassion and understanding when we mis-step.
  • Consider how application of many tenets of our own nursing theories can be activated in the quest to address racism. Consider Peplau’s approach to meaningful interpersonal relationships, the very important insights from Margaret Newman “Health as Expanded Consciousness,” and any one of several theories of caring such as Watson’s Theory of Human Caring, or Boykin and Schoenhofer’s Theory of Nursing as Caring, While these and other nursing theories were not created specifically to address racism and social injustice, we certainly can draw on their wisdom to bring nursing perspectives to the center in our anti-racism work.
  • Follow the opportunities provided by the Nursology Theory Collective to join discussions focused on creating equity in nursing
  • Find, read and cite nursing literature authored by nurses of color. Learn the names of these authors, and seek out their work. If you teach, make sure you include this literature in your syllabi(3).
  • Explore the work of scholars in other disciplines who are also committed to anti-racism work. The “Scholarly Kitchen” blog posts regularly on matters of racism and discrimination – see their June 15, 2020 post titled Educating Ourselves: Ten Quotes from Researchers Exploring Issues Around Race
  • Make your own video, as a nurse, speaking to these issues and how your values, ideas, nursing perspectives inform your actions to fight racism! Post it on YouTube or Vimeo .. and then share it with us – we can consider posting on Nursology.net or another nursing website. See this wonderful video (below) by de-cluttering expert Mel Robertson for inspiration!
Notes
  1. Ultimately the concept of active listening formed a basis for the essential processes of “critical reflection” and “conflict transformation” in my heuristic theory of Peace and Power.
  2. See this excellent article from the Center for the Study of Social Policy on the capitalization of the terms “Black” and “White,” which I consulted in refining this post: Nguyễn, A. T., & Pendleton, M. (2020, March 23). Recognizing Race in Language: Why We Capitalize “Black” and “White” | Center for the Study of Social Policy. Center for the Study of Social Policy. https://cssp.org/2020/03/recognizing-race-in-language-why-we-capitalize-black-and-white/
  3. See Kagan, P. N., Smith, M. C., & Chinn, P. L. (Eds.). (2014). Philosophies and Practices of Emancipatory Nursing: Social Justice as Praxis. Routledge. This collection includes many of the leading authors, including many nurse scholars of color, whose work focuses on social justice.

Hidden Risks of Physical Distancing and Social Isolation

The single most important and essential step being taken worldwide to contain the spread of the COVID19 crisis is what is widely known as “social distancing.” But in fact this is physical distancing that heightens the risk of social isolation, conflict and stress. This necessary physical distancing is only tolerable for the most introverted of introverts, leaving the rest of the population in a state of periodic unrest at best, and deep distress at worst.  We are then faced with not only the possibility of disease/illness caused by the novel corona virus – we are faced with the dis-ease of daily living.  When the environment to which someone is compelled to retreat is a relatively safe haven that provides nurturing and encourages creative solutions to the inevitable frustrations and stress, the outcome will probably be okay at least – perhaps even resulting in some new and healthier patterns of daily living!  But the reality is that for far too many, the environment of “home” is a place of emotional tension, sometimes even emotional and/or physical danger.  For those who are “essential” workers – like many nurses – the workplace where they are now compelled to spend a considerable amount of time is one where their own physical well-being is at risk, and the culture may be also less than nurturing or pleasant – even abusive.  Even the best of circumstances can easily erupt into harmful conflict and emotional tension at a moment’s notice, ignited by the stress and tension of the uncertainties and dangers that we all face in this pandemic.

Now more than ever the world needs nursing – the practice of caring for others informed by the knowledge and the wisdom passed along in the theories and philosophies of nursology.  To me the unifying unique characteristic that is so vital as we face the COVID19 pandemic is the holistic nature of nursing theory and practice.  There are many insights that any of us can tap into in any of our theories – now documented on this website and accessible through the site’s galleries.

My theory and practice of “Peace and Power” is among those that directly address the challenges of social and emotional conflict and distress – distress that also compromises physical well-being.  The theory was developed as an approach to group process that shifts away from the power-over (often damaging) approaches that dominate group interactions, and toward an approach that nurtures all, that respects each person’s humanity, and that deals with conflict in ways that nurture growth and healing – not harm and hurt.  The “group” can  be as small as two people!  Shifting to this approach is not easy and it is especially hard to start learning in a context already stressed by the current pandemic – but it can be done!  The specific theoretical concept and practice is “conflict transformation.”  This abstract concept is possible to translate directly into practice – into the realities of every-day life – starting with awareness of the potential for unrest during this challenging time, and the commitment to  start practicing even with the smallest tension!   Here are a few practical ideas for using this approach where you live and work now.

When you are directly involved in a stressful interaction:
  • If you can, acknowledge the situation as soon as you even suspect that this might escalate.  Do not try to “fix” the conflict, simply acknowledge that it is happening, and ask for others to take time to reflect and find a new direction.  If it is now already escalated, step in to share (briefly) your sense of what is happening, and to ask everyone to take time to breathe and reflect on what is happening. This may be a few minutes, or a few hours – maybe a couple of days.
  • During this time, take deep breaths every few minutes to calm and center your spirit.  Focus on your own body/mind/spirit feelings and your own hopes for how this situation will unfold. Recognize and take into account the stress of the situation around you – in this case the pandemic and the real-life stress everyone is experiencing.
  • Shift to a place of inner calm, where you move away from blame and toward understanding of the situation as a whole.
  • Clarify the underlying values that you believe everyone in the situation shares.
  • Prepare your own “critical reflection” that you will share with the others involved.  This reflection consists of these elements:
    • I feel … focus on your own feelings without blaming others
    • When (or about) … describe factually what happened when your feelings came to the surface.
    • I want, I offer .. describe what you envision happening next to move away from or resolve (transform) the conflict, even if it seems impossible to happen.
    • Because … name the value, goals or ideals that you share with the others who are involved.
  • Take a deep breath, and return to the situation ready share your reflection and invite the others to also move away from conflict toward peaceful and health-promoting interactions. Listen carefully to what everyone shares, and join with them in finding a path forward.  The path might still be rocky along the way, but you will now have a foundation from which you can build.  Keep the process of transforming conflict alive and well as you navigate troubled waters.
When you observe a stressful, potentially harmful interaction:
  • Acknowledge what you are observing, even if it is not immediately clear that something harmful is happening.
  • Offer to serve as a mediator or facilitator, bringing awareness of the situation to light, and encouraging a move away from harm and toward understanding
  • If others are open, share the “Peace and Power” process of conflict transformation as an approach to deal with the situation.

A Dozen and One Ways to Love Our Discipline!

Later this week February 14th, is Valentine’s Day – the internationally recognized holiday that variously inspires young children to try their hand at making an original card expressing at least admiration for other children, and compels adults to exchange gifts symbolizing their adoration of one another.  Putting aside the commercialization of a day with deep roots in Roman religious festival traditions, I would like to consider ways in which we as nursologists can express, in our actions and deeds, our fundamental respect – and yes, our love, for the discipline to which we have committed our professional lives, and for many, our personal lives as well.

So in the spirit of the best traditions of Valentine’s day – here are a dozen and one ways to love our discipline!

  1. Express appreciation every day to a nurse who has made, or makes a difference in your life.
  2. Form a small support or interest group with a few nurse colleagues to work on a persistent challenge you are facing; include early-career nurses who are so vulnerable to these challenges.
  3. Recognize ways in which racism and other forms of discrimination are expressed in everyday ways in your work environment, acknowledge your part, and explore ways to resist and transform these situations.
  4. Practice the fine art of “active listening” whenever you encounter a nurse colleague whose point of view differs from your own, explore common ground and build bridges of understanding.
  5. Reach out to a nurse who is hurting, discouraged, or fearful for any reason;  listen to their story, and pledge to continue to listen.
  6. Settle on your own clear and succinct explanation of what nursing is all about; express this to at least two other people every day, and notice their responses to refine your message.
  7. Read one article every month, or two books a year, to learn about nursing history and the nurses who made significant contributions to our discipline.
  8. Practice one or more self-nurturing activity every day, such as physical activity (walking, yoga, tai chi), meditation, play and laughter, saying “no” as a complete sentence!
  9. Resolve to speak the truth of nursology to power at every possible opportunity.
  10. Use every avenue possible to communicate with the public – with your local community leaders, the media, and politicians.
  11. Love and care for the earth and its animal creatures as you would your most cherished patient; take at least 3 opportunities each day to teach others to love and care for the earth and for animals.
  12. Join at least one nursing organization and work to create needed changes in our discipline and in healthcare.  AND
  13. Follow Nursology.net, share the site far and wide, and participate in sharing ideas to shape the future of nursing/nursology.
Thank you to the following nursologists who have contributed to this list!
Chloe Olivia Rose Littzen
Jane Hopkins Walsh
Jess Dillard-Wright
Brandon Blaine Brown
Savina Schoenofer
Marlaine Smith
Vanessa Shields-Haas
Christina Nyirati

Decolonizing Nursing

Series: Notable Works
See Recording of March 9th Platica, hosted by Caroline Ortiz

As the year 2020 starts to unfold, along with escalating tensions world-wide related to power imbalances, inequities, and injustices, I am drawn to consider how our own endeavors related to the development of nursing knowledge intersect with these very large tensions that so directly shape the health of people worldwide.  I will not even attempt to present you with a “laundry list” of ways in which we could begin to tackle these issues as nursologists – the list alone would greatly exceed the boundaries of a reasonable blog post. Instead, I have decided to focus on one critical topic that repeatedly rises to the surface in many nursing discourses – the topic of racism.  Despite the fact that race and racism so repeatedly rise to the surface with a clear intent to address this issue, there is typically little or no substantive discussion that begins to reach deep down into explanations or understanding of what is really going on. Our efforts to  address the issues are sincere and well-intended but more often than not, end up being superficial “remedies” – often remedies that themselves have clear and undeniable racist dimensions. Seldom, if ever, is there a recognition or discussion of the ways in which nursing perspectives sustain the structures of racism. 

The nursing literature, over the past decade, has provided our discipline with a number of notable sources addressing race and racism, most prominently from an emancipatory, critical theory perspective (see Kagan et al., 2014).  But one notable work in particular is well worth our focus – titled “Toward decolonizing nursing: the colonization of nursing and strategies for increasing the counter-narrative” authored by Canadian and South African  authors Elizabeth McGibbon, Fhumulani M Mulaudzi, Paula Didham, Sylvia Bartond and Ann Sochane (McGibbon et al., 2014)

 The authors draw on Canadian experience, where culturally, there is very active, visible and dedicated progress toward truth and reconciliation addressing the injustices imposed by European settlers on native Indigenous peoples (see for example the excellent webinar on “Racism and Privilege in the Everyday”).  The United States in general is far behind Canada, South Africa and other colonized nations in openly and systematically embedding awareness of these injustices in public discourse. Unlike other colonized countries, the US has not yet established practices and programs that attempt to address the significant injustices that have seriously harmed those who have been historically disadvantaged, as well as the effects of these colonizing systems and practices on those who have inherited white settler privilege.  The truth is that each situation in which there is disadvantage for some and advantage for others has specific and unique characteristics, but the common threads that run through all such situations, particularly where race and skin color are concerned are significant. McGibbon and her colleagues have provided a cogent explanation that specifically addresses the realm of nursing theory, and ways in which colonization inhabits much of our nursing theorizing. This is not to say that certain nursing theories should be banned from our lexicon because of their colonized and colonizing characteristics.  Rather, examining nursing perspectives from this standpoint is a key that can begin to shift nursing into spaces, actions and ways of theorizing that hold potential to resist the harmful dynamics of colonization, specifically the dynamics of racism.

As Dr. McGibbon reiterated to me in a recent personal communication:

Colonization is a term that refers to the Eurocentric project of empire building that was motivated by the intent to “civilize” the rest of the world.

“Decolonization” is the process of exposing, resisting and transforming the continuing presence and influence of colonial practices and thought.

The project of colonization historically involved indiscriminate destruction of the ways of life, the cultural values, ways of being, spiritual traditions – the whole experience of people who were not European (read not white skinned) – in other words, people of dark skin.  In their article, McGibbon and colleagues provided a detailed and clear explanation of the nature of colonization, as well as the contributions of postcolonial scholars, particularly those of indigenous backgrounds, who have taken bold steps to reveal the devastation and painful struggle, as well as the courage and skills of survival for those who have been, and still are harmed by colonial practices and thought. 

Most significantly, McGibbon and colleagues provided several still-relevant clues where we can focus our attention in the quest to decolonize nursing.  The first challenge is raising awareness of ways in which colonization, and its racist underpinnings persist in nursing thought. They stated: 

Nursing has developed within all of the . . .  contexts of colonization, including the intersections of racism and sexism that inform the colonial project. Embedded beliefs and assumptions provide a foundation for the colonizing of intellectual development in nursing. Similarly, racism and white privilege play a central role in the continued colonization of the profession.” (p. 183)

First, they addressed the persistent belief that we have now moved beyond the “old” days when the white settlers arrived to inhabit, uninvited, the lands of indigenous people.  The same belief persists in the United States where we sustain the notion that we are beyond the slavery of African people that ended decades ago. Since those “days” are in the long-ago past, we tend to sustain the notion that we are now all equal – that we all inhabit the “same” world and that the cultural [read dominant white culture] norms are true for all.  We recognize that there are disparities, and acknowledge some of the disadvantages experienced by people of color, but fail to recognize, or acknowledge that white privilege remains as powerful a dynamic as it ever was. The languages of “diversity” and “multiculturalism” actually sustain this dynamic; when examined closely these perspectives in nursing treat cultures of color as “other” – as interesting curiosities.  Culture is seen as characteristics of any practices that are not white.  Notice that there are rare, if any discussions of white dietary practices, rituals, family relationships, religious practices. “White” experience is typically seen as diverse and individualized, as the “norm” against which other practices are judged or compared, whereas the experience of the “other,” of “people of color” are seen as essentialized markers of difference, with the “white” norms as the point of reference.

Another characteristic that reflects the effects of Euro-centric thought, and that persists as a pervasive characteristic in nursing thought, is the emphasis on empirics, and the presumption of “objectivity” in part because it is removed from the vicissitudes, the contamination, of everyday experience.  The gold standard of “evidence” presumes a certain “objectivity” that is apolitical and assumed to be universal to all human experience. The result is discourse that is largely grounded in white privilege, and its concurrent erasure of the experience of those with dark skin. When “race” is taken as a demographic variable, it tends to be treated, as in real life, as “different” and something other than what is presumed to be the “norm.” As McGibbon and colleagues pointed out, even when race and racism are brought into a conversation, the dominant impulse in relation to the nursing theoretical frameworks is to hide such dynamics in the larger metaparadigm concept of “environment.” 

Nursing’s search to become a credible science reflects this same dynamic of white privilege and unquestioned valuing of positivist values.  The focus of much of nursing’s theorizing is on the individual as a person with uninhibited free will, one who can care for oneself (with ample resources assumed to be available), with only a passing nod in the direction of the family and community (critical and central concerns for those who are not privileged).  The positivist assumption of the whole as the sum of the parts is reflected in just about all undergraduate nursing curricula, in the focus of our textbooks, and organization of hospitals, medical (and nursing) specialties – divided into children (under the medicalized label of pediatrics), various adult conditions (many of which have been transposed into major profit centers), mental health (again medicalized as “psychiatric”) etc.  To the extent that “family and community” is addressed, these vital, central dimensions of human experience are treated as separate and different from the individualized organizing concepts.

These dimensions of awareness are critical, but importantly, McGibbon and her colleagues devoted a significant focus on what this means for our current situation, and the future development of nursing knowledge.  They outline examples of everyday racism and the ways in which nurses of white privilege sustain racist practices, even when we wish not to do so and believe we do not. But as they correctly noted:

These experiences of ongoing racism form the fabric of everyday life for racialized nurses and are largely invisible for the perpetrators, be they in the individual, face-to-face realm, or at the level of governance and policy-making. (page 185)

They pointed to three significant steps that all nurses, and particularly white nurses and white nurse scholars, can take to begin to participate in the effort to decolonize nursing. These are  

  • Understanding racism and white privilege, and creating counternarratives that dismantle colonized thinking, in particular biomedical hegemony and other colonizing ideologies;
  • Committing to action based on social justice and human rights; and 
  • Sustaining attention to the structural determinants of health.

I would add one additional “goal” that deserves our particular attention as nursologist – the potential to completely re-vamp the organizing concepts and constructs of our discipline based on the insights from the three decolonizing projects that McGibbon and her colleagues outline.

The persistent question that always surfaces in these kinds of discussions (particularly among white people) is “What can I, as only one individual, do?”* In my view, the most important and fundamental step is to learn about and take to heart the ways in which our own actions and perspectives sustain racism in our everyday practices. For those of us who inherited white privilege, we have a particular responsibility to dedicate ourselves to our own self-awareness and commitment to change.  I have provided below a list of various resources that I have found invaluable in my own journey. Once we begin to explore our own experience, and understand the dynamics of colonization, we will begin to see a huge shift that will have great power in the direction of decolonizing nursing. 

Sources cited:

Kagan, P. N., Smith, M. C., & Chinn, P. L. (Eds.). (2014). Philosophies and Practices of Emancipatory Nursing: Social Justice as Praxis. Routledge.

McGibbon, E., Mulaudzi, F. M., Didham, P., Barton, S., & Sochan, A. (2014). Toward decolonizing nursing: the colonization of nursing and strategies for increasing the counter-narrative. Nursing Inquiry, 21(3), 179–191. https://doi.org/10.1111/nin.12042

Resources for self-awareness

Recommended reading, especially for white people, but also for people of color to gain understanding of the ways in which white privilege is sustained.

DiAngelo, R. (2018). White fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism. Beacon Press.

Two part blog posted on The Scholarly Kitchen relating the everyday experiences of people of color in the white-dominated publishing industry, 

On Being Excluded: Testimonies by People of Color in Scholarly Publishing (Part 1).

On Being Excluded: Testimonies by People of Color in Scholarly Publishing, Part II

 “Everyday Feminism” webinars (available for a modest fee)

Beyond Diversity: How to Build a Truly Anti-Racist Organization

So… You Have White Guilt. What Now?

Please also see the webinar series recommended to me by Dr. McGibbon – produced by the Indigenous Cultural Safety Collaborative Learning Series (ICS)

* Addendum 2020-02-01: I have been asked to also address ways nurses of color can address issues of racism.  First, I fundamentally believe that it is unacceptable to expect that our colleagues of color have any responsibility here.  Addressing this issue from the standpoint of someone who is racialized is exhausting, frustrating and disheartening – the effort and energy required to deal with the effects of everyday racism is more than many can bear.  And, as a white person, it is presumptuous of me to assume that my suggestions will have merit.  Understanding this, here are a few ideas that I have picked up from listening to women of color who are engaged in this work:

  • When you see an opportunity to speak your truth, find allies who will hear your words and feel your experience.
  • Develop spaces where you are nurtured, where you are truly “at home” – where you can relax, be yourself, and speak your truth.  This is likely to be a context in which there are no white people (yet) – but having this space will nurture your confidence to search for other allies.
  • Find others who are actively involved in anti-racism work in your community. These colleagues will help you develop a clear and unwavering dedication, and the strength, to face the challenges of everyday experience.

2nd Annual Nursing Theory Conference March 20-21, 2020!

The year of 2019 brought a surge of interest in the development of nursing knowledge – theories, models and philosophies that define our discipline and provide direction for the vital service nurses provide worldwide!  Two major 2019 conferences – Case Western Reserve in March, and the KING collaborative conference last week in DC – inspired the establishment of a structure for an annual nursing theory conference!  The 2020 conference will again be at Case Western Reserve University, March 20-21! And plans are already underway for spring conferences in 2021 and for 2022 – the locations and dates for these conferences will be announced very soon.

As noted on the conference website,

The purpose of the Annual Nursing Theory Conference is to provide a global forum where all nurses can gather to nurture and critique nursing theory thereby expanding nursing’s unique disciplinary knowledge for practice, research, education, and policy. Recognizing that the ultimate purpose of nursing is the improvement of the health and wellbeing of all people, situated in the wholeness of their system context, we commit to supporting a place for active and equitable theoretical discourse. We value, support, and encourage the diversity of theoretical perspectives in nursing to enhance our unique knowledge base. Grounding us firmly in these tenets, we acknowledge the powerful link between philosophy, theory, research, and social change.

The theme for the 2020 conference is “Evolution from the Scientist Nurse to Nursologist: Values and Vicissitudes.”  This theme was inspired by  the ideas published  in Nursing Research in 1970  by Rosemary Ellis titled “Values and Vicissitudes of the Scientist Nurse.”  The program will open by reflecting on how Ellis’s early ideas contributed to where we are today, and the choices we now face as we shape a vision for the future development of nursing knowledge.  The major portion of the program will feature breakout sessions based on participant abstracts, where nursology scholars can present their current work in a context of rich discussion that challenges and inspires our movement forward!  Toward the conclusion of the conference, there will be time for theory-specific groups to gather and discuss matters related to their particular work, giving conference participants an opportunity to connect with others who are working from a specific theoretical framework.

The 2020 conference will firmly establish an ongoing context for nurturing the ideas and frameworks that shape our discipline – building on the values of the past and shaping the vicissitudes of the future! Explore the conference website today, and plan to be there!

Registration now open!
  • Early Bird registration ends February 15, 2020
  • Regular registration ends March 15, 2020
  • There is no on-site registration!
Abstract Submissions now being accepted!
  • Abstract due date: December 15, 2019
  • Notification date: January 15, 2020