It’s Time We Raise Nursologists!

Report from the 2021 Virtual Nursing Theory Week

Contributors:
Christina Nyirati
Sharon Stout-Shaffer

At the time of the 2021 Virtual Nursing Theory Week, Christina Nyirati and Sharon Stour-Shaffer presented the baccalaureate curriculum they designed and now implement at Heritage University located on the Yakama Reservation in Washington State. This is the only session that was recorded during the conference; it represents the value of nursing knowledge in shaping the present and future of nursing as a discipline. The following is a brief description and a video of their presentation.

The first Heritage University BSN Program Outcome reads “The Graduate of the Heritage University BSN Program explains how nursing’s fundamental patterns of knowing –personal, aesthetic, ethical, empirical and emancipatory –contribute to understanding the complexity of nursing care in the treatment of human response”.

Carper’s (1978) Fundamental Patterns of Knowing in Nursing is the foundation of the BSN Program. Freshmen study discrete courses in each of Carper’s fundamental patterns: personal, aesthetic, ethical, and empirical knowing. The Personal Knowing course is founded on personal knowing as a precondition for nursing care. Students practice various methods of reflection to develop personal knowing in every moment of nursing care. The Aesthetics of Nursing course is grounded in assumptions from Nightingale’s theory of nursing arts and aesthetics as a fundamental pattern of knowing in nursing. An experiential course, based in the principles of performing arts, the focus is on the act of care; Students explore and apply dramatic arts foundational to holistic nursing care competencies. The Ethical Knowing course emphasizes the practice of ethical comportment in nursing care. The Empirical Knowing course students introduces students to fundamental theories, concepts, evidence, and competencies pertaining to generation of nursing knowledge.

Senior year features the community as the unit of nursing care, and is founded on Chinn and Kramer’s (2019) emancipatory knowing in nursing. The Policy, Power & Politics of Nursing course focuses on the professional nurse role in taking responsibility for shaping social policy. The two Community Oriented Nursing Inquiry and Practice and the Community Based Participatory Research courses center on principles of socially just reflective action to overcome health inequities.

Faculty developed rubrics to evaluate how students integrate the fundamental patterns of knowing nursing into clinical practice. Students complete reflective writing assignments during clinical practice each semester from sophomore through senior year.

About the contributors:

Christina Nyirati, RN, PhD

Christina Nyirati is Professor of Nursing at Heritage University on the Yakama Nation Reservation in Washington, where she serves as the founding Director of the BSN Program. Dr. Nyirati came to Heritage from Ohio University and The Ohio State University, where she directed the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Programs. She practiced more than 30 years as an FNP in primary care of vulnerable young families in Appalachian Ohio, and worked to reduce dire neonatal and maternal outcomes. Dr. Nyirati challenges FNP educators to consider nursing knowledge as the essential component of the FNP program as the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) evolves and becomes requisite for entry into advanced practice. Now at Heritage Dr. Nyirati prepares nurses in an innovative undergraduate curriculum faithful to the epistemic foundations of nursing. Two cohorts have graduated from the Heritage BSN Program. They openly proclaim and use their powerful nursing knowledge to correct inequities in their communities.

Sharon Stout-Shaffer, PhD, RN

Sharon Stout-Shaffer, PhD, RN, Professor Emerita, Capital University, Columbus, Ohio; Adjunct Faculty, Heritage University, Toppenish, Washington; Nursing Education Specialist, S4Netquest, Columbus, Ohio. Sharon has over 30 years of experience in educational administration and teaching in both hospital and academic settings. Her career has focused on developing education based on a nursing model that includes concepts of holism and healing.

Her Ph.D. in Nursing from The Ohio State University focused on the psychophysiology of stress and relaxation-based interventions to promote autonomic self-regulation and immune function in people living with HIV. She has attained certification in Psychosynthesis, Guided Imagery, and more recently, the Social Resilience Model; she has presented numerous papers on integrating holism into curricula as well as caregiver wellbeing and resilience including Adelaide, Australia, 2011; Reykjavik, Iceland, 2015; American Holistic Nurses Association Phoenix, 2016 & Niagara Falls, 2018.

During her tenure as Director, Post-Graduate Programs at Capital University, Sharon taught the graduate theory course and co-developed a theoretically grounded holistic healing course as the foundation for graduate study; the graduate program has been endorsed by the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Center. Since her retirement, she has co-developed and implemented numerous educational interventions designed to develop the Therapeutic Capacity of working nurses and nursing students. This work includes concepts of centering, compassion, managing suffering, the psychophysiology of resilience and essential contemplative practices to develop stress resilience, deal with moral distress and promote long-term wellness. She is currently teaching courses in Personal Knowing and Nursing Ethics for undergraduate nursing students at Heritage University. Her most recent publication is dedicated to holistic self-care and self-development. (Shields, D. & Stout-Shaffer, S. 2020). Self-Development: The foundation of holistic self-care. In Helming, M., Shields, D., Avino, K., & Rosa, W. Holistic nursing: A handbook for Practice (8th). Jones and Bartlett Learning, Burlington MA.)

Virtual Nursing Theory Week – A Landmark Success!

Q – How on earth can we have a dynamic theory conference with 70 breakout sessions – on Zoom?

A – We are nurses — we will find a way!

And find a way we did!

Thanks to the amazing leadership and expert organizing skills of Leslie Nicoll (Editor of CIN: Computers Informatics Nursing), we found a way! Every day from March 17th through March 23rd, 140 nurses tuned in to one or more of the sessions scheduled throughout the week. There were three general sessions – one on the first day of the conference, another on the 6th day, and the final on the last day to close the week. The remaining sessions were 30-minute long “breakout” sessions based on the abstracts that had been submitted for the 2020 conference that had to be canceled due to the COVID pandemic. The presenters and attendees ranged from students and early-career scholars – to well-established and well-known nurse theorists. You can browse the detail of all of the sessions here!

Even though we are over a year into “pandemic culture” when everything has gone virtual, the technical challenges of doing this were huge. After all, we are not instructional technology experts! But Leslie organized each and every detail of the conference, and discovered a wonderful technology expert to give support for all technology aspects of the conference – Ray Harwood of Goodclix. Ray was tuned in to every moment, always ready to step in and solve each technical challenge, but also engaged with us to help make each session run smoothly for each presenter and for all of us attending. Ray says on his website: “Frankly, it’s not what I do, it’s how I do it that counts” – and nothing could be more true!

To compensate for the disappointment of the canceled 2020 conference and taking advantage of the virtual capabilities, Leslie laid out a daily schedule with no overlap in the breakout sessions, so that speakers had a full 30 minutes for their breakout sessions, and attendees were able to attend every single one of the sessions! Of course, hardly anyone was able to do this – but for those of us who were present for every session (or almost all), every moment was interesting – and also inspiring!

Top left clockwise: Brandon Blaine Brown, Chloe Littzen-Brown, Jane Hopkins-Walsh, Claire Valderama-Wallace, Patrick McMurray – Panelists in the March 22nd general session addressing “The Focus of the Discipline Reimagined from an Emancipatory Lens.”

Here are a range of comments and responses from the evaluations:

This conference was the most enriching and enlightening conference that I had attended in a long time. This is a great contribution to the growth of the profession.

You did an excellent job and I was surprised and pleased by the breadth of the presenters and the depth of some of the discussions. I loved hearing what the other nursologists were doing and it gave me hope to see nursology being supported and growing!

Holding it on zoom and for an entire week was just too much. We are already zoom fatigued and while you had no option, I think the conference would have been manageable if shorter duration. Our lives at our home offices don’t stop for virtual conferences; if we were on site, we could focus better and not worry about home duties. All conferences are experiencing this, I realize. Thank you for all your good work. 

In person conference would be better. If it is virtual, should be condensed, not so spread out, I appreciate your efforts. I know this zoom presentations are all new for everyone

It would be nice to have a remote option for next year

Ray was very supportive. The richness of this conference was incredible!

Structured well, solid content, great dialogue

This is just a busy time for me. The planning and program for this were excellent. I’ve heard from many how much they enjoyed this. I’m glad I have guidebook to look up what I missed. Really excellent work on this. I do like that it was on zoom. I am finding organizational memberships and conferences to be costly so I like this zoom as an option.

Let us think about a virtual nursing theory week every other year and an in person conference the other alternate year. I would not want to lose what we had with this VNTW by always having in person conferences. Or perhaps we can have a virtual component to in person conferences, so that colleagues who cannot travel can still participate.

I did not expect to enjoy the conference as much as I did. I learned so much. Not only about theory, also about who I am and ways that I could use nursing theory to informed nursing education and clinical practice. I liked not having to choose between two or more workshops.

I have loved the zoom format. I am surprised at the depth of connections with my colleagues through this format.

Awesomeness! Inspiring! Hope for the Future of Nursology!

If the next conference is offered in a hybrid format, I will definitely attend. I hope that it is and I highly encourage this conference to remain in some form of virtual format. This material is critical to the future of nursing as a discipline. 

So now — we trust the we will be able to gather in person at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing! We will post information here on Nursology.net, and on the Nursology Nursing Theory website – so stay tuned and join us in Memphis!

Unity in Our Diversity: the KING Collaborative Conference and Nursology

         Last month, on November 14th and 15th, nurses from all over the world gathered to discuss nursing theory and the future of nursing at a landmark conference at George Washington University in Washington D.C. Hosted by the King International Nursing Group, the theme of the conference was “Nursing theories: Moving forward through collaboration, application and innovation.” Present at the conference included members of various scholarly groups in nursing such as the International Consortium of Parse Scholars, Leininger Culture Care, the Neuman Systems Model Trustees Group, Orem International Society, Roy Adaptation Association, Society for the Advancement of Modeling and Role Modeling, Society of Rogerian Scholars, the Transcultural Nursing Society, the University of Connecticut School of Nursing, the Watson Caring Science Institute, and the Nursing Theory Collective.

The above collage depicts different moments during the panel presentation at the King Collaborative Conference. On the bottom from left to right is Jacqueline Fawcett, Callista Roy, and Marlaine Smith.

         On the first day of the conference, a representative member of each of these scholarly groups presented on the nursing theory central to their organization. Each oriented their discussion toward the future of nursing as a discipline. Awareness of our habitual silos slowly emerged as each of these scholars presented, revealing our tendencies as nurse theorists – nursologists – to work in isolation. These voices were put into dialogue in a panel, convened to discuss the future of nursing theory and the discipline as we know it. From this discussion, panelists and attendees alike unanimously agreed that the future of the discipline required that we identify common ground and work collaboratively from our shared values grounded in nursing while recognizing and honoring our differences. The panel discussion concluded with a call to find unity in our diversity and recognize the strengths inherent in divergent perspectives. 

The Nursology Theory Collective at their first in-person meeting on November 15th, 2019.

      The next day, the Nursing Theory Collective had their first in-person meeting. In light of the pivotal discussion that had occurred on the previous day, representatives from different scholarly groups were in attendance to participate. One of the main agenda items for the first in-person meeting was revisiting the adoption of the term “nursology” in the group’s name, mission, vision, and values, in place of the term nursing. Achieving consensus through lively discussion on the politics and peculiarities of the term, the Collective ultimately determined that “nursology” was best suited for navigating the future of the discipline. As such, the Nursing Theory Collective has now been renamed the Nursology Theory Collective. It is our hope with this adoption that we can become more inclusive for all scholars and practitioners alike, breaking down walls towards a unified future for the discipline.

         Inspired by our shared space and time at the King Conference, looking towards the future, the Nursology Theory Collective intends to continue to advocate for the future of our discipline through practice, research, education, and policy. We hope to foster an inclusive home for nursologists from all perspectives. We ask you, as important voices in our discipline, what issues are most important to you? Though you may not attend our meetings, we value diversity, discourse, and dissensus. We want to hear from you about the future you envision for nursing. What are the theory, practice, education, policy issues you see as critical to our future? We want to hear from you, and we invite you to our next meeting on Monday, December 16th from 1:00 – 2:30 PM MST. If you wish to participate, please contact us via email at nursingtheorycollective@gmail.com

Please continue the conversation from the King Conference below in the comments, we look forward to hearing from you!

With gratitude,
The Nursology Theory Collective 

The Nursology Theory Collective at their first in-person meeting on November 15th, 2019.

Making Nursing Theory Real!

In March, 2019, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH hosted the conference: “Nursing Theory: A 50 Year Perspective, Past and Future”.  One theme that emerged from the lively dialogue at the conference was that nursing theory should be introduced and integrated in all pre-licensure programs. At the same time, participants noted that many pre-licensure educators lack knowledge and skills for teaching nursing theory.

Energized by the March theory conference, several nurse educators from Northeast Ohio joined together to offer a workshop on the basics of teaching nursing theory. The workshop, Making it Real: Connecting Nursing Theory to Nursing Education, was co-sponsored by Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), Ursuline College, and Lorain County Community College. There was no registration fee, parking was free, light refreshments were provided, and 2 contact hours of CE were awarded.

Patricia Sharpnack speaking at Nursing Theory: Making It Real

We scheduled the workshop to precede a Northeast Ohio League for Nursing (NEOLN) dinner meeting and program at the same location. The event was publicized through emails to directors of pre-licensure programs and, in the spirit of collaboration, the theory group and NEOLN each publicized the other’s event.

The program was coordinated by Dr. Mary Quinn-Griffin (CWRU). The planners kept the workshop to two hours so participants could see that they did not need extensive,highly theoretical content to begin incorporating theory in their class, lab, or clinical teaching. During the first hour, Drs. Joyce Fitzpatrick and Deborah Lindell (CWRU), and Dr. Patricia Sharpnack (Ursuline College) presented content on the disciplinary perspective, nuts and bolts of theories, core concepts of nursing, and strategies for integrating nursing theory in pre-licensure education. During the second hour, the participants worked in small groups to identify, and report out on, ways they could integrate nursing theory in their teaching.

Participants engaged in a group activity

We were delighted by the response to our workshop! In two days, we filled the 35 seats and had a waiting list! So, we repeated this program in November. Evaluations were highly positive and participants suggested topics for future programs, such as in-depth discussion and application of specific theories. We look forward to Making It Real, Phase II.

Please contact Debbie Lindell for more information about our theory workshop.