Contributor: Ellen E. Swanson, MA, RN, BSN, PHN, HNB-BC (Retired)

Recently I had a professional practice story published in the American Holistic Nurses Association journal, “Beginnings”. Several responses to the story motivated me to think about the potential use of professional practice stories in nursing education. I shared with a local nursing professor and the magazine editor the possibility of using professional practice stories to have students identify what nursing theories and ways of knowing they saw in a given story.

This prompted a literature review on the topic of storytelling in nursing. I also recalled that I had a section about storytelling in my graduate position paper of 1998. One of the references for that paper was “To a Dancing God” by Sam Keen (1970; 1990). I reviewed his quote: “A visceral theology majors in the sense of touch rather than the sense of hearing.” (p. 159). I immediately said to myself that if there can be visceral theology, there can be visceral Nursology!

And what would visceral Nursology look like? Definitions of visceral include “proceeding from the instinctive, bodily, or deep abdominal place rather than intellectual motivation.” This brought to mind two concepts: the felt sense and aesthetic knowing.

I first explored the concept of the felt sense in 2007, and continued to read more about it over time. One way I came to understand the felt sense is as an immediate precursor to intuitive insights.

The following statements about ‘felt sense’ are taken from two books which I found quite helpful. The first book is Focusing (1979) by Eugene T. Gendlin. The second book is Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma (1997) by Peter A. Levine. A more recent book, Your Body Knows the Answer: Using Your Felt Sense to Solve Problems, Effect Change & Liberate Creativity (2014) by David I. Rome teaches how to access the felt sense.

  1. The felt sense is a difficult concept to define with words, as language is a linear process and the felt sense is a non-linear experience. Consequently, dimensions of meaning are lost in the attempt to articulate this experience. (Levine p. 67)
  2. A felt sense is not a mental experience but a physical one. Physical. A bodily awareness of a situation or person or event. An internal aura that encompasses everything you feel and know about the given subject at a given time – encompasses it and communicates it to you all at once rather than detail by detail. (Gendlin p. 32)
  3. Perhaps the best way to describe the felt sense is to say that it is the experience of being in a living body that understands the nuances of its environment by way of its responses to that environment. (Levine p. 69)
  4. In many ways, the felt sense is like a stream moving through an ever-changing landscape…..once the setting has been interpreted and defined by the felt sense, we will blend into whatever conditions we find ourselves. This amazing sense encompasses both the content and climate of our internal and external environments. Like the stream, it shapes itself to fit those environments. (Levine p. 69-70)
  5. The felt sense can be influenced – even changed by our thoughts – yet it’s not a thought, it’s something we feel. (Levine p. 70)
  6. The felt sense is a medium through which we experience the fullness of sensation and knowledge about ourselves. (Levine p. 8)
  7. Nowadays the phrase, “trust your gut” is used commonly. The felt sense is the means through which you can learn to hear this instinctual voice. (Levine p. 72)
  8. The felt sense heightens our enjoyment of sensual experiences and can be a doorway to spiritual states. (Levine p. 72)
  9. One must go to that place where there are not words but only feeling. At first there may be nothing there until a felt sense forms. Then when it forms, it feels pregnant. The felt sense has in it a meaning you can feel, but usually it is not immediately open. Usually you will have to stay with a felt sense for some seconds until it opens. The forming, and then the opening of a felt sense, usually takes about thirty seconds, and it may take you three or four minutes, counting distractions, to give it the thirty seconds of attention it needs. When you look for a felt sense, you look in the place you know without words, in body-sensing. (Gendlin p. 86)

I was so relieved to see how I had practiced nursing for decades put into words. I couldn’t always explain how I knew the effective interventions that seemed to just ‘happen’. I didn’t feel free to explore this in the non-holistic based career roles the first 30 years of my career. My graduate work in the late 1990’s gave me freedom to explore more holistic ways of thinking and practicing, but still doing it all rather privately. Membership in the Minnesota Holistic Nurses Association also gave me colleagues with whom to share more holistically.

The next movement toward being more open about my practice came when I learned about Modeling and Role Modeling Theory in 2012, two years before my retirement! Perhaps if I had been more open to nursing theories earlier, I wouldn’t have felt like I needed to hide how I practiced all those years. Listening, presence, and putting myself in the shoes of the other were always three of my stronger interventions. To see a theory include this latter one was such a relief. And it was in studying Modeling and Role Modeling that I learned there were a variety of ways of knowing, and aesthetic knowing was one of them.

However, I did not understand aesthetic knowing as fully until the more recent Nursology posts. I experience sheer delight with this learning. I can finally acknowledge my way of practicing to my nursing community. Chinn & Kramer (2018 p. 142) define aesthetic knowing as “An intuitive sense that detects all that is going on and calls forth a response, and you act spontaneously to care for the person or family in the moment.” It involves sensations as opposed to intellectuality. Chinn & Kramer (2018) also say “Aesthetic knowing is what makes possible knowing what to do and how to be in the moment, instantly, without conscious deliberation.” In other words, I have to not only let my head get out of the way, but also not let my head talk me out of aesthetic knowing, in both my professional life and personal life.

And so it is for me, that aesthetic knowing is Visceral Nursology. I now have a theory, an organization, and a way of knowing that supports how I practice.


Chinn, P.L. & Kramer, M.K. (2018). Knowledge Development in Nursing: Theory and Process. (10th Ed.). Elsevier. St. Louis, MO.

Erickson, H.L. (Ed). (2006). Modeling and Role-Modeling: A View from the Client’s World. Unicorns Unlimited. Cedar Park, TX.

Gendlin, E. T. (1979). Focusing. (2nd ed.) Bantam Books. NY.

Keen, S. (1970, 1990). To a Dancing God: Notes of a Spiritual Traveler. Harper Collins. San Francisco.

Levine, P.A. with Frederick, A. (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma. North Atlantic Books. Berkeley, CA.

Rome, D.I. (2014). Your Body Knows the Answer: Using Your Felt Sense to Solve Problems, Effect Change & Liberate Creativity. Shambhala. Boston & London.

About Ellen Swanson

Ellen Swanson

Ellen E. Swanson is retired from a 46 year nursing career that included ortho-rehab, mental health, OR, care management, consulting, and supervision. She also had a private practice in holistic nursing for 15 years, focusing on health and wellness teaching and counseling. She served on the leadership council for the Minnesota Holistic Nurses Association for ten years.
She enjoys writing that incorporates holistic concepts, whether through storytelling or her booklet about Alzheimer’s or her book about healing the hierarchy.

Guest Post: Decolonizing the Language of Nursology

Contributor: Daniel Suárez-Baquero
Scroll down for Spanish language version of this post


Nursing has been characterized by a colonial perspective in which the advancements and developments made in English are over those made in other languages. We forget as Dr. Ricardo Ayala states in his book Towards a Sociology of Nursing (2019): “Nursing is a social discipline.” Society frames the context of Nursing understanding and development. Moreover, Rodrigo, Cais, and Monforte-Royo (2017), in their article titled “The influence of Anglo-American theoretical models on the evolution of the nursing discipline in Spain,” highlight that those social implications of Nursing in Spain make almost impossible to transfer the conceptual development of nursing theories created and thought in English.

Original art by Daniel Daniel Suárez-Baquero and Nelson Martinez

As a Ph.D. candidate, I lived the experience of being judged as “being wrong” when I provide my assumptions about nursing, rather than receiving an open door for discussion. In Spanish, the discipline’s name is Enfermería from the Latin infirmus, with the Spanish suffix -eria (i.e., as a place in which ill people are treated). In contrast, the English word nursing comes from late Latin nutritia (referring to nourishing and nurture). The use of these words is also different by essence because Enfermería has uses only as a noun, and Nursing can be used as a noun, verb, and adjective.

The linguistic barriers between Romances and Anglo-Saxon languages make us see two different perspectives and words of Nursing. The major difference presented in both languages is mainly because of the absence of a verb to express the act of Nursing in Spanish (“Enfermeriar” [sloppy and nonexistent translation]), then nurse’s action was labeled as Cuidado. Cuidado is a word that encompasses the amalgamation of the act of nursing and the act of caring. The restriction of the world Enfermería as a noun makes Care/Caring (Cuidado) the essence of Nursing in Spanish. Therefore, authors such as Brito Brito, in his paper of 2016 “Cuidadología: Pensamientos sobre el nombre de nuestra disciplina,” proposes the name of the discipline as CUIDADOLOGÍA considering that the essence and the action of Enfemrería are Cuidado. Hence, the most logical way to name our discipline is Cuidadología (Careology) and not Nursology who limits it use only to English, recognizing that if it is true that not all nurses provide Caring, all the nurses care for others. Brito Brito (2016) states that Cuidadología means the science of Cuidado (Caring) and the science of knowledge.

It is important to highlight that “Spanish [nurses] did not differentiate between the concepts Care, Care for, and Caring, using these words with different nuances indistinctively and translating all equally into one‐word in Spanish, Cuidado” (Suárez-Baquero & Champion, 2020).

I provide an initial insight into this matter in the paper “Expanding the conceptualisation of the Art of Caring.” Further, I proposed the word NURSOLOGÍA in Spanish as a bridge between English and Spanish language in an in-press paper on ANS titled “Critical analysis of the nursing metaparadigm in Spanish-speaking countries: Is the nursing metaparadigm universal?” recognizing that the Latin root Nutritia represents also caring. “We propose to rather use the term Nursología as the Spanish equivalent for Nursology, as this term embraces the notion of nursing as the science of caring comprehensively.” (Suárez-Baquero & Walker). This proposal aims to build bridges between perspectives of Nursing instead of imposing and colonize minoritized nurses in the rest of the world as it used to happen in Nursing discipline.

I hope these thoughts provide a little more clarity about our discipline’s name and provide awareness about the importance of the linguistic congruency historically bypassed by English-speaking nurses. Moreover, I agree that this change can’t be made without the contributions of nurses globally in a multilingual framework.

Note: Portions of this post belong to the forthcoming article: Suárez-Baquero, D. F. M. & Walker, L. O. (in press for Volume 44:2). Critical analysis of the nursing metaparadigm in spanish-speaking countries: Is the nursing metaparadigm universal?. Advances in Nursing Science


La Enfermería ha sido caracterizada por una perspectiva colonial, en la que los adelantos y desarrollos hechos en inglés están por encima de aquellos hechos en otros idiomas. Nos olvidamos, como el Dr. Ricardo Ayala indica en su libro Towards a Sociology of Nursing (Hacia una sociología de la Enfermería) (2019) de que “La enfermería es una disciplina social”. Las sociedades enmarcan el entendimiento y desarrollo de la enfermería. Además, Rodrigo, Cais, and Monforte-Royo (2017), en su artículo titulado The influence of Anglo-American theoretical models on the evolution of the nursing discipline in Spain (La influencia de los modelos teóricos angloamericanos en la evolución de la disciplina enfermera en España) resaltan que las implicaciones sociales de la Enfermería en España hacen casi imposible transferir los desarrollos conceptuales de las teorías de Enfermería creadas y pensadas en inglés.

Original art by Daniel Daniel Suárez-Baquero and Nelson Martinez

Como candidato doctoral, he vivido la experiencia de ser juzgado como “errado” cuando comparto mis supuestos sobre la Enfermería en lugar de recibir una puerta abierta a la discusión. En español, el nombre de la disciplina es Enfermería, que proviene del latín infirmus, con el sufijo español -ería (es decir, un lugar en el que las personas enfermas son tratadas). En contraste, la palabra en inglés, Nursing, viene del latín tardío nutritia (referente a la alimentación y nutrición. Nurturing/Nurture se refiere al nutrir de forma física, moral, mental, espiritual, en todas las dimensiones del ser). El uso de estas palabras también es distinto en esencia porque Enfermería tiene usos únicamente como sustantivo,ñ mientras que Nursing puede ser usado como sustantivo, verbo y adjetivo.

Las barreras lingüísticas entre las lenguas romances y anglosajonas nos hacen ver dos perspectivas y mundos de Enfermería distintos. La mayor diferencia entre los dos idiomas es la ausencia de un verbo que exprese la acción de la Enfermería en español [“Enfermeriar” (traducción chapucera e inexistente)]; por esto, las acciones enfermeras fueron etiquetadas como Cuidado. Cuidado es una palabra que engloba la amalgama del acto de enfermería y el acto de cuidar con amor o cariño. La limitación de la palabra Enfermería como sustantivo hace del Cuidado (Care/Caring) la esencia de la Enfermería en español. Por lo tanto, autores como Brito Brito, en su artículo de 2016 “Cuidadología: Pensamientos sobre el nombre de nuestra disciplina”, propone el nombre de la disciplina como CUIDADOLOGÍA, considerando que la esencia y la acción de la enfermería es el Cuidado. En consecuencia, la forma más lógica de nombrar nuestra disciplina es Cuidadología (Careology) y no Nursology, que limita su uso sólo al inglés, reconociendo que si bien no todas las enfermeras y enfermeros proveen cuidado amoroso/cariñoso (Caring), todas las enfermeras y enfermeros asisten a otros con o sin el componente del Cuidado (sino la mera intervención enfermera). Brito Brito (2016) establece que Cuidadología significa la ciencia del Cuidado (Care/Caring) y la ciencia del conocimiento.

Es importante resaltar que “Las enfermeras que hablan español no diferencian entre los conceptos Care, Care for, y Caring, usando estas tres palabras con diferentes matices y significados indistintamente y traduciéndolas todas en una sola palabra en español, Cuidado” (Suárez-Baquero & Champion, 2020).

Aporto una primera visión de este asunto en el artículo Expanding the conceptualisation of the Art of Caring (Expandiendo la conceptualización del arte del Cuidar). Además, propongo la palabra NURSOLOGÍA en español como un Puente entre los idiomas inglés y español en un artículo en producción en ANS titulado Critical analysis of the nursing metaparadigm in Spanish-speaking countries: Is the nursing metaparadigm universal? (Análisis crítico del metaparadigma de Enfermería en países hispanos: ¿Es el metaparadigma de enfermería universal?, reconociendo que la raíz latina Nutritia representa también Cuidar. “Nosotros proponemos en vez el uso del término Nursología como el equivalente en español para Nursology, dado que este término abarca ampliamente la noción de la enfermería como la ciencia del cuidado” (Suárez-Baquero & Walker). Esta propuesta busca construir puentes entre las perspectivas de la Enfermería en vez de imponer y colonizar enfermeras y enfermeros minorizados en el resto del mundo, como suele suceder en la disciplina enfermera.

Espero que estos pensamientos provean un poco más de claridad acerca del nombre de nuestra disciplina, así como conciencia sobre la importancia de la congruencia lingüística históricamente obviada por las enfermeras angloparlantes. Además, concuerdo que este cambio no puede hacerse sin las contribuciones de las enfermeras y enfermeros del mundo en un marco multilingüístico.



Ayala, R. A. (2020). Towards a Sociology of Nursing. In Towards a Sociology of Nursing. Springer Singapore.

Brito Brito, P. R. (2017). Cuidadología: Pensamientos sobre el nombre de nuestra disciplina. Ene, 11(2).
Rodrigo, O., Caïs, J., & Monforte-Royo, C. (2017). The influence of Anglo-American theoretical models on the evolution of the nursing discipline in Spain. Nursing Inquiry, 24(3), e12175.

Suárez‐Baquero, D. F. M., & Champion, J. D. (2020). Expanding the conceptualisation of the Art of Caring. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences.

About Daniel Suárez-Baquero

Mr. Suárez Baquero received his BSN and MSN in Maternal/Perinatal Nursing Care from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. He is currently completing a Nursing Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. His research and practice concern women/maternal/perinatal health, risk reduction for urban/rural ethnic minority women, and nursing theory.

Nursing is a Discipline–Donaldson and Crowley Notable Work

Notable Works

The first time that I understood that nursing – what we now call nursology (Fawcett, 2018; Fawcett et al., 2015) – is a discipline was in 1978 when I read the just published Donaldson and Crowley’s now classic journal article, “The discipline of nursing.” My pride in what we are has always been great, so realizing that we are members of a discipline increased my pride from great to greater. I should note that at the time of publication of the Donaldson and Crowley (1978) paper, I did not know about Moore’s 1968 paper, “Nursing: A scientific discipline?” which certainly was due to my admittedly sloppy scholarship!

Sue Donaldson

As I continued to think about nursology as a discipline, I realized I needed to determine the accepted definition of the word. I found that the term, discipline, comes from the Latin disciplina, meaning a branch of instruction or learning (Stein, 1966). Disciplines are distinguished by the subject matter of interest to its members (Schwab, 1962; Walton & Kuethe, 1963). Disciplines are a way of organizing knowledge; they have utility as administrative structures for education.

Donaldson and Crowley’s (1978) article is especially important for their telling us what we are all about. They pointed out, “At least since the time of Nightingale, there has been a remarkable consistency in the recurrent themes that [nursologist] scholars use to explain what they conceive to be the essence of the core of [nursology].” (p. 113). They identified the three general themes listed below. So influential were these themes to me that they became the first version of the relational propositions for my version of our disciplinary metaparadigm (Fawcett, 1984).

*Concern with principles and laws that govern the life processes, well –being, and optimum functions of human beings—sick or well

*Concern with the patterning of human behavior in interaction with the environment in critical life situations

*Concern with the processes by which positive changes in health status are affected. (Donaldson & Crowley, 1978, p 113)

Donaldson and Crowley (1978) identified two types of disciplines– academic and professional. They maintained that nurses (nursologists) are members of a professional discipline and, as such, nursologists have a social mandate to not only develop and disseminate knowledge, but also to use the knowledge in service to human beings. Members of academic disciplines, in contrast, develop and disseminate knowledge but do not have a social mandate to use the knowledge in service to anyone or anything.

Donaldson and Crowley’s (1978) claim that we are members of a professional discipline led me to search for a definition of a profession. I found that the term, profession, refers to a vocation requiring knowledge of some branch of learning (Stein, 1966). Obviously, the emphasis in the definitions of both discipline and profession is knowledge.

As can be seen in the diagram below, which was inspired by Donaldson and Crowley’s (1978) ideas about a professional discipline, I envision the components of the professional discipline of nursology to be science and the profession. For nursology, science encompasses eight types of knowledge—empirical, aesthetic, ethical, personal knowing, sociopolitical, emancipatory, spiritual, and unknowing, too (Carper, 1978; Chinn & Kramer, 2018; Munhall, 1993; White, 1995; Willis & Leone-Sheehan, 2019). Discovery and dissemination of knowledge is accomplished by means of the conduct and publication of the results of scholarly inquiry, including basic, applied, and clinical research (Donaldson & Crowley, 1978), as well as translational research (Wendler et al., 2013). Utilization of knowledge is accomplished by means of implementing the results of translational research into clinical practice activities as well as into educational programs and administration of nursology services.

The double-headed arrows in the diagram indicate that there is a reciprocal relation between science and the profession; between discovery and dissemination of knowledge and utilization of that knowledge; and between scholarly inquiry and practice. Ultimately, the results of utilization of disciplinary knowledge in practice are used to advance the scholarly inquiry that is required for further discovery and dissemination of knowledge.

Moore (1968) and Donaldson and Crowley (1978) indicated that scholarly inquiry guides practice. Thus, the starting point for the reciprocal relation between scholarly inquiry and practice always is scholarly inquiry. Some nursologists may disagree, maintaining that ideas for scholarly inquiry arise from problems encountered in practice. However, Donaldson and Crowley (1978) maintained that “the discipline of [nursology] should be governing clinical practice rather than being defined by it” (p. 118). They went on to explain,

Of necessity, clinical practice focuses on the individual in the here and now who has a problem requiring relevant and appropriate actions. The discipline, in contrast, embodies a knowledge base relevant to all realms of professional practice and which links the past, present and future. Its scope goes far beyond that required for current clinical practice. If the discipline were so narrowly defined, professional [nursology] could be limited to functioning in the realm of disaster relief rather than serving as a force in the promotion of world health. (p 118)

The major impact of Donaldson and Crowley’s (1978) artice is that understanding and recognizing that nursologists are members of a discipline provides the rationale for our place in the academy of higher education among other widely and long-recognized disciplines. Moreover and perhaps most important, are Donaldson and Crowley” (1978) closing words:

For the continued growth, significance, and utility of the discipline of [nursology], researchers must place their research within the context of the discipline. Theories must also be viewed in terms of the basic structural conceptualizations of the discipline [i.e., our nursology conceptual models]. The responsibility for revising and clarifying the structural conceptions, the very framework, of the discipline of [nursology] rests with [nursologist] researchers. This means lessening our preoccupation with the process of [nursology practice] and pedagogy and placing emphasis on content as substance. (p. 120).

Content as substance was, of course, the reason for creation of


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

Chinn, P. L., & Kramer, M. K. (2018). Knowledge development in nursing: Theory and process (10th ed.). Elsevier Mosby.

Donaldson, S. K., & Crowley, D. M. (1978). The discipline of nursing. Nursing Outlook, 26(2), 113-120

Fawcett, J. (1984). The metaparadigm of nursing: Present status and future refinements. Image: The Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 16(3), 84 87.Fawcett, J. (2018, September 24). Our Name: Why Nursology? Why .net?

Fawcett, J., Aronowitz, T., AbuFannouneh, A., Al Usta, M., Fraley, H. E., Howlett, M. S. L, Mtengezo, J. T., Muchira, J. M., Nava, A., Thapa, S., & Zhang, Y. (2015). Thoughts about the name of our discipline. Nursing Science Quarterly, 28(4), 330-333. doi: 10.1177/0894318415599224

Moore, M. A. (1968) Nursing: a scientific discipline? Nursing Forum, 7(4), 340-348. (Reprinted Nursing Forum, 1993, 28(1), 28-31.)

Munhall PL. (1993). “Unknowing”: toward another pattern of knowing in nursing. Nursing Outlook, 41(3), 125–128.
Schwab, J. (1962). The concept of the structure of a discipline. Educational Record, 43(July), 197-204.

Stein, J. (Ed.). (1966). The Random House dictionary of the English language (Unabridged ed.). Random House.

Walton, J., & Kuethe, J. L. (Eds.). (1963). The discipline of education. University of Wisconsin Press.

Wendler, M. C., Kirkbride, G., Wade, K., & Ferrell, L. (2013). Translational research: A concept analysis. Research & Theory for Nursing Practice, 27(3), 214–232. DOI: 10.1891/1541-6577.27.3.214

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

Willis, D. G., & Leone-Sheehan, D. M. (2019). Spiritual knowing; Another pattern of knowing in the discipline. Advances in Nursing Science, 42(1), 58-68. doi: 10.1097/ANS.0000000000000236

Guest post: The privilege of agency: The political shortcomings of nursing theory

Contributor: Mike Taylor

The four metaparadigm concepts of nursing knowledge have been human beings, environment, health and nursing process; with the state of the person at the center of the definition and achievement of health goals. The idea that an individual has the wherewithal, not only in name but also but also in action, to determine what health means for them as an individual and is able to work to accomplish those same goals is the concept of agency. Among nursing’s most referenced conceptual models and theories — Orem, Parse, Newman and Roy — keep the focus of nursing’s work on the individual before us, and much less of a consideration is on the environment the person inhabits. Newman (1979) for example states that the goal of nursing “is to assist people to utilize the power that is within them as they evolve toward higher levels of consciousness” (p. 67)  The concept of individual agency is central even in theories about the praxis of nursing such as Watson’s theory of human caring where the nurse/patient dyad “is influenced by the caring consciousness and intentionality of the nurse as she or he enters into the life space … of another person. It implies a focus on the uniqueness of self and other…” (


Agency is not something that is naturally given to a person but emerges from the process of human development. That process is frequently affected  by poor schools, environmental pollution, and the other mediators of institutional racism and poverty. The chances of an individual reaching full agency, meaning the ability to identify and actualize individual health goals,  in adulthood are much more likely when those limiting factors are not present due to privilege. Even when an individual is able to overcome early life challenges, the social environment where agency can be exercised, there are limits on who can participate based on class, race, and gender. These limitations on the exercise of agency extend to persons who either want to or are actively practicing the profession of nursing. Even when a person can overcome the intersecting influence of race, poverty and gender to become a nurse; the same barriers remain in the practice environment often limiting choice of practice arena and opportunities for advancement to leadership roles.

Nursing theory is right to place individual agency at the center of the health improvement process, but it does not address the uneven distribution of that agency and the effect that has on health. Agency is only possible where it is allowed and when individuals in disadvantaged communities  do not have the inability to develop or exercise agency, the disparities in health outcomes we see today are the result. For nursing theory to meet these health challenges it must develop beyond a focus on individual agency to an emphasis on the social and environmental conditions that limit health improvement which means challenging institutional racism and poverty among others.

To develop the concept of agency in nursing and challenge existing social barriers, I believe that it would be instructive to align the development and exercise of agency with concepts of intersectionality. An important question might be can any correlation be found between the intersectionality and the degree of effective agency as reflected in an individual’s agency and the available social environments where that agency can be exercised. My anticipation is that it would be an inverse correlation with effective agency decreasing as the number of overlapping disadvantages increase. 


Newman, M., (1979). Theory development in nursing. F.A. Davis. 

Caring Science & Human Caring Theory, Transpersonal Caring and the Caring Moment Defined

About William (Mike) Taylor

Mike Taylor is an independent nursing theorist specializing in the application of complexity science to health and compassion. His Unified Theory of Meaning Emergence takes a major stride in connecting the mathematics of complexity with self-transcendence and compassion. He has spoken at international, national and regional conferences on complexity in nursing, health, and business. He is a member of the board of the Plexus Institute where he is the lead designer of the Commons Project, a web based platform for rapid social evolution in climate change.

Practice and Research Speak: The Words We Use to Describe Ourselves and Others

In March 2020, I posted a blog about the meaning of words used to describe the extent to wish a person’s (patient or client) behavior does not comply with, adhere to, or is concordant with what has been prescribed by nursologists or physicians. In December 2020, I posted a blog about the meaning of words researchers use in their research reports, such as allow, respondents, and informants. In these blogs, I pointed to the power differential that is implied in the use of these words. In the first blog, I asked why do we use compliance, adherence, and even concordance instead of a term that more accurately reflects relationship-based care; and in the second blog, why do we use allow rather than invite, and why do we use respondent or informant rather than people.

The purpose of this blog is to discuss the words we use to describe ourselves and others in the context of healthcare. Collectively, we tend to refer to ourselves (nursologists) as healthcare providers, using the same term for physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, and others who “provide” healthcare “services.” We refer to others (patients, clients, people) as recipients of these services.

Copyright 2021 Jacqueline Fawcett

I have used these terms in my publications for many years. Now, as I become more sensitive to the connotative meaning of words, I must question how my use of these words – provider, recipient – conveys a huge power differential, a clear instance of power-over (Chinn & Falk-Rafael, 2015;, and power-as-control (Barrett, 2010;

In the compliance etc. blog, I referred to co-created narrative, and a comment from a reader of that blog replied that a co-created narrative is one “in which the healthcare consultant and the person consulting with him/her engage in dialogue around the recommendations offered, within an environment of mutual respect and honesty, arriving at a mutually agreed upon plan led by the person seeking input” (

I thank that reader very much for her comment. Healthcare consultant instead of healthcare provider is a better term, as it at least implies peace as power (Chinn & Falk-Rafael, 2015) and power-as-freedom (Barrett 2010) perspectives, as does person who is consulting instead of recipient. I shall do my best to use these words in all future publications until the potential awkwardness or unfamiliarity with these words evolves to the familiar, conveying the dignity and mutual respect of the encounter. (Note that I wrote “do my best” rather than “try,” as I am committed to removing “try” from my vocabulary, for as Yoda tells us: DO OR DO NOT; THERE IS NO TRY.) .

Yoda Says: Do or do not. There is no try.
Yoda in Fawcett’s Art, Antiques, and Toy Museum in Waldoboro. Maine
Photo by Jacqueline Fawcett

I very much look forward to comments from readers of this blog–what are your thoughts about words that convey different types of power? Do you have suggestions for other words to convey who we are and who others are?


Barrett, E. (2010). Power as knowing participation in change: What’s new and what’s next. Nursing Science Quarterly, 23(1), 47-54.doi: 10.1177/089431840935379

Chinn, P. L., & Falk-Rafael, A. R. (2015). Peace and power: a theory of emancipatory group process. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 47(1), 62–69.

Power in Nursing

Power has been a concern to all living beings – humans and animals – since the beginning of time. Nursologists have been sensitive to power issues at least since Florence Nightingale’s time. It is likely, however, that power has different meanings for different people, including those who hold positions associated with power and those who regard themselves as subjected to power and may think they are powerless.

Very specific meanings of power are evident in a nursology theory developed by Elizabeth Barrett and a nursology theory developed by Peggy Chinn. Elizabeth Barrett developed the theory of power as knowing participation in change. This theory focuses on power-as-freedom, which contrasts with power-as-control. Barrett (2010) explained that power-as-freedom comes from and is associated with participating knowingly in life changes.

Peggy Chinn developed the theory of peace and power. This theory focuses on peace-power, which contrasts with power-over. Chinn (2018) explained, “This theory provides a framework for individuals and groups to shape their actions and interactions to promote health and well being for the group and for each individual, using processes based on values of cooperation and inclusion of all points of view in making decisions and in addressing conflicts.

My interpretation of these theories is that both emphasize power as a beneficial attribute that enables the individual or group to thrive and evolve, as opposed to power as a detrimental attribute that often prevents others from thriving and evolving. But what, I wondered, are meanings of power held by other nursologists?

St. Mary’s College Campus (from

Therefore, I invited graduate students at St. Mary’s College School of Nursing in Kurume, Japan, where I am a visiting professor, to share their meanings of power. I asked the students to respond to two questions:

  • How do you define power?
  • How does power affect what you think and do as a nursologist

The students’ responses are given here. I am indebted to Eric Fortin, who is a faculty member at St. Mary’s College School of Nursing, for translating the students’ responses from Japanese to English. (See notes below for more information about St. Mary’s College School of Nursing)

How do you define power?

Yukari Shitaki wrote: Power is generally defined as authority, motive power, energy, and so on. In nursing, I think that there are many things that are demonstrated through relationships among people, such as manpower, empowerment, and power augmentation, which improve technical skills and abilities. In addition, I think that the way people, whether individuals, groups, or society at large, perceive that power changes according to the situation at any particular time. Therefore, for me, power is defined as the force in the fellowship among people that produces synergistic effects and is further demonstrated through the interactions among them.

Kiyoko Tanaka wrote: We as nursologists work to maintain and promote human health, prevent health problems, create an environment that promotes health, and share and resolve issues related to the destruction of the natural environment and the deterioration of the social environment. In contrast, nursology is caring and has the power to realize and maintain a peaceful human society by fulfilling its role

Yoko Hashimoto wrote: In Japan, some nurses work in the government as licensed nurses and are involved in devising national policies. Many other nurses are involved with patients and local residents in hospitals and communities. Nurses see problems and other issues in their daily practice. Therefore, as nurses, we are working to improve the quality of nursing to solve these issues. I believe that nurses consider motivation and the ability to improve the quality of nursing to be power

Risa Fujimoto wrote: I think that nursologists’ power can be defined as action. As nursologists, everything should be done for the patient. It is very important to possess the ability to do something useful for people and to act on and realize what we want to do, including even little things. I also think that studying at graduate school may be the first step that will lead to having the power of a nursologist.

Saki Higashi wrote: The power of a nursologist for me is defined as the ability to constantly grow from the soul and to spread that around to others. I categorize power into three aspects. The first is the core, the second is influences absorbed from one’s surroundings, and the third is action. The core is latent and spiritual and includes one’s thoughts on nursing. The aspect of power that is absorbed from one’s surroundings is the power that can exert influence and that can be taken in from all external stimuli such as patients and other staff through one’s experiences of being a nursologist. Action is the aspect of power that derives from what has been cultivated up to now, including from the first and second aspects, and it works by giving back what has been absorbed from others through one’s practice and by diffusing one’s own power to those around us. Power is not always constant, but fluctuates; and power, although being influenced by others, also gives of itself and continues to grow.

How does power affect what you think and do as a nursologist?

Yukari Shitaki wrote: The reason I wanted to raise the level of my expertise was that I strongly believe in the importance of education. In my work environment as a perinatal nursologist, I encounter situations in which induced abortions are easily requested due to undesired, unexpected, or young pregnancies. One of the reasons for this involves the issue of sex education. I have thought about what I could do to change the consciousness of the women in these cases by inculcating in them the value of life and the desire to protect its dignity. It is difficult to face such a problem through one individual’s power alone, so it is necessary to first acquire the ability to judge the essence of one’s role as a professional and to think about what kind of method is possible to implement an action from an educational perspective. I also think it is possible to augment an individual’s power by utilizing the power of a larger group through fellowship with its members, and thereby be better able to put necessary actions into practice.

Kiyoko Tanaka wrote: As a pediatric nurse, I realize that the family is very important in child development. If families cannot fully understand children with developmental disabilities and cannot understand the characteristics of their own children, it will not be possible to support those children, and it will be difficult to expand their possibilities with adequate developmental support. It will also be difficult to improve their future health in connection with possible secondary disabilities. The risk of ruining a healthy life can also develop. Conversely, with regard to the mental health of parents, especially mothers, of children with developmental disabilities, feelings of difficulty in raising these c)hildren have led to depression and reduced self-esteem. Based on this situation, we, as nursologists have the power of specialized knowledge to offer counseling, guidance, and a positive nursing environment for children with developmental disabilities and their families in cooperation with related organizations such as prefectures, municipalities, hospitals, and schools. We can also provide information about services available for children with developmental disabilities and their families so that they can maintain, promote, recover from, and prevent illness. In addition, we believe that such support will promote the health of caregivers, promote a better understanding of children with developmental disabilities, and lead to their healthy development.

Yoko Hashimoto wrote: Japan has had a background of advanced medical care catering to the needs of an aging society having an increasingly long lifespan, and medical care is moving from the hospital to the home. However, there are few nurses who are practicing in the field of home nursing, so evidence in this field is weak and, therefore, has failed to lead to policies. In the future, it will be necessary to conduct research and establish evidence for issues arising from daily practice to provide high-quality nursing in response to social changes. It is difficult to act alone, so it is necessary to become involved with others and to work together. Through the power of nurses, nursing practice will be better visualized, which will hopefully allow it to occupy a more important position among government circles, thus leading to improved nursing and medical care.

Risa Fujimoto wrote: For nursologists, power is the ability to help people by being useful to them. In my clinical experience, I often wondered whether I could really help others or if there was something more I could do for them. Therefore, I decided to undertake graduate study with the goal of improving my knowledge level and nursologists’ practice skills. As a rehabilitation nurse, I want to become a nursologist with a wide range of knowledge and be involved in primary through tertiary stroke prevention. We can only become useful to people by taking action and practicing what we know. However, to take action, we cannot act entirely alone; we need the knowledge and skills of other nursologists. Personally, if I obtain enough knowledge in graduate school, I am confident that I will have to play a role in creating an opportunity for many nursologists to understand the value of nursology. So, I think that that would be one of my responsibilities as a nursologist. As a practitioner, I will keep in my heart and mind what I believe to be useful for people and will work to obtain knowledge and skills so that I can better perform the actions of a nursologist.

Saki Higashi wrote: Power influences my activities as a nursologist. In the future, by incorporating my experiences and various influences from the external environment and applying them to my nursology activities, I am confident that I will not only grow as a nursologist, but also expand my influence to people, regions, countries, and the world at large.


Barrett, E. (2010). Power as knowing participation in change: What’s new and what’s next. Nursing Science Quarterly, 23(1), 47-54. doi:10.1177/0894318409353797 

Chinn, P. L. (2018, August 23). Peace & Power. Retrieved from

Chinn, P. L., & Falk-Rafael, A. R. (2015). Peace and power: A theory of emancipatory group process. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 47, 62–69.

More about St. Mary”s College School of Nursing on

Who IS the First?

What is Real Nursing and Who Are Real Nurses? Perspectives from Japan

Hope in Nursing

Contributors: Barbara MacDonald
and Jane K. Dickinson

Barbara and Jane worked together as student/faculty in the online MS in Diabetes Education and Management program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Hope was a common thread throughout Barbara’s work in the program, and the conversation continues:

JKD: How did you get interested in hope?

BJM: My introduction to the concept of hope in health care was through a book recommendation: The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness by Jerome Groopman. In the context of nursing, I have always believed in health equity and striving for the best possible care for all people. To achieve this, hope is the underlying and fundamental driver. To keep keeping on, to advocate, to fight for the best possibilities, one must believe in and have hope for a better future. As nurses, and fellow humans on a journey together, we have the ability and responsibility to identify and foster hope in ourselves and others in need, in our care and as we are able.

JKD: Where do you see hope in nursing? Where is it lacking?

BJM: Hope is everywhere in nursing. Nurses work with the fundamental belief that we will and can make things better. We continue to get up and go to make things better everywhere at all times. We use a process of critical thinking and decision-making to create that better future for people. Hope is the foundation of this process. We are continually thinking about and creating ways to make things better for the people we are fortunate enough to encounter and for whom we provide care. Hope is woven into the fabric of nursing, and yet, ironically, it is not necessarily identifiable, quantifiable, or systematically measured or fostered as an essential component of care. Hope is fostered through strengths-based, rather than deficit-based, models and systems in health care, and we have work to do to achieve that. What if we began with identifying what is going well and what is working, particularly in non-acute care? What if we had an assessment where we asked how hopeful someone is about their health, and what gives them the greatest hope?

JKD: How does hope have an impact on health outcomes?

BJM: I believe that hope is a pilot light in each of us that is always there, even in the darkest times. If hope is identified and fostered, there is the potential for people to rise up and have the will and energy to move toward a desired future. This is true for both the person receiving care and the nurse. Hope is sustained through incremental progression toward the goal and desired future. When people experience success associated with their efforts, they are inspired, empowered and more hopeful about their future. Success and movement toward results, such as blood glucose levels in the goal range, create energy for continuing the momentum toward the desired future. When hope is fostered, health outcomes are positively influenced and people tend to feel more empowered in their self-management and self-advocacy.

JKD: What connections exist between hope and nursing knowledge?

BJM: It is likely that there is an element of hope in all nursing theories, whether named as such or otherwise. Gottlieb’s philosophy of strengths-based nursing is an approach that embodies hope along with empowerment and self-efficacy and their relationships with achieving desired outcomes (Gottlieb, 2014). As inherent as hope is in all aspects of nursing, it is both surprising and disappointing that there is not a formalized mechanism for identifying and fostering hope to systematically advance health outcomes. While hope is specifically mentioned in the works of Weidenbach, Travelbee, and Kolcaba, almost every nursing theory and theoretical/conceptual model appears to be addressing hope in some way.

JKD: What else would you like to tell us about hope and nursing?

BJM: When I asked a leading mental health specialist about scales to measure hope in diabetes self-management, much like the tools used for assessment of depression and diabetes distress, he replied that to his knowledge there are none. Pausing to think about why that is, I wonder if the effort has been placed on what hope is rather than assuming that it is, and strategizing to identify and foster hope. What if we assume that hope exists within everyone, and find ways to foster it in conjunction with evidence-informed best practice to ensure movement toward the desired future? One thing that stuck in my head in the conversation with the mental health specialist was what he said about assessments in general, such as a depression instrument: “whatever you are looking for, you will find.” If we are looking for depression through use of a depression scale, we will find it. So let’s create a measure to find hope and then foster it.

Even in our current reality, I believe that hope is abundant. We pin our hopes on our everyday approaches, and in the potential of the future. There is hope in science for understanding the coronavirus and immunity to it. There is hope in understanding more about how we need to become informed and examine our thoughts and actions about addressing inadequacies and achieving health equity for all. There is hope for humanity to come together to make a better future, and in this nurses and nursing leadership play a fundamental role. By being hopeful we can find a way to optimize nursing practice in the interest of the public. There is hope as we strive for this optimization in this International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Could there be a more significant challenge and call to action for nurses than what we are currently facing in 2020? I am hopeful that nurses can come together, rise to the challenge, and be the change we are looking for. Let’s be hopeful and lead a path which inspires hope in others as we create a great movement toward health equity.


Gottlieb, L.N. (2014). Strengths-Based Nursing. American Journal of Nursing,  114(8), 24-32. doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000453039.70629.e2

About the contributors

Barbara J. MacDonald, RN, BSN, MS-DEDM CDE is a diabetes consultant and co-founder of IDEA | Inspiring Diabetes Empowerment Associates, as well as practice advisor for Saskatchewan’s nursing regulatory body. She is a 2017 graduate of the Master of Science, Diabetes Education and Management, Teachers College Columbia University and is completely hopeful about our collective power to shift the health care experience and outcomes for all, particularly those who are most overlooked.


Jane K. Dickinson, RN, PhD, CDCES is a blogger and is the Program Director and Faculty for the solely online and asynchronous Master of Science in Diabetes Education and Management at Teachers College Columbia University. Jane’s research, publications, and speaking focus on the language in diabetes and the need to impart hope through our messages to and about people living with diabetes.