Tribute to our Nurse Friends!

We welcome this guest post by Shannon Constantinides, MSN, NP-C, FNP, UCHealth Primary Care,  PhD Student, Florida Atlantic University.  Shannon also contributed the content on Jane Georges’ Theory of Emancipatory Compassion

Shannon Constantinides

In trying to explain to my husband (an osteopathic physician) why Nurses’ Week is an important week, I asked him, “Do you ever notice that I have my “friends” … but that I also have my “nurse friends?” He looked back at me, a bit quizzically, shrugged his shoulders and said, “yeah…? I guess so?” In a conversation a day or so later, he said, “Now that you’ve mentioned it, I guess I have heard you mention your Nurse Friends.” He then gave me a somewhat perplexed look and said, “I have friends who are physicians, but I don’t think I have Physician Friends. At least not in the way you talk about your Nurse Friends.” You’re right, my dear, you don’t.

From the inception of the profession, nurses have been working together, side by side in the figurative and literal “trenches.” Whereas our physician colleagues are trained to be the lone wolves, or as I’ve heard it described, “the captain of the ship,” nurses are from the onset of training, trained to work as part of a team.

This Nurses’ Week, I set an intention to celebrate and honor all my Nurse Friends. To me, Nurses’ Week is a reminder about the joy we find in work – not just the experiences that arise from patient care – but also joy we find from the relationships we’ve built with one another along the way.

In 2018, I had the honor and privilege to interview Dr. Jane Georges, Dean of the Hahn School of Nursing at the University of San Diego and the author of the Emancipatory Theory of Compassion. During the course of our conversation, we got onto the topic of finding joy in work and Nurse Friends. Until Dr. Georges pointed it out, I hadn’t given much thought to the concept of Nurse Friends. My mom, a 30-year NICU RN, had Nurse Friends. Dr. Georges’ mother was also a nurse who had Nurse Friends. “NurseFriends” was simply a word we’d always known, because we both grown up with the knowledge that there are two kinds of friends: your friends, and your NurseFriends.

In discussing ways in which we can recapture joy in work and joy in nursing, Dr. Georges circled back to the concept of NurseFriends and the deep connection nurses share with one another; the connection that allows us to find so much meaning in what we do. “I call it the nurse-nurse bond,” Dr. Georges said, “It’s knowing that we can’t do it alone, which is one of the most beautiful parts of nursing.” In recalling some of the most healing environments in which she’d worked, Dr. Georges commented on the presence of joy, respect, and connection with other nurses.

“We just had this crew,” I mentioned as I reminisced about a group night-shift NurseFriends I worked with during my tenure working in an emergency department. Dr. Georges agreed, “I think the idea of the nurse-nurse bond, or NurseFriends, is worth exploring… how do we build back that community where we’re not adversarial to each other?” I think that the answer lies within ourselves and within the community of our discipline: building up our NurseFriends to strengthen one another, to strengthen the profession, to strengthen ourselves, and ultimately, to strengthen the care we give our patients.

Two years ago, I had to tell a NurseFriend who’d become my primary care patient that I’d found lymphoma on her MRI. That was one of the worst days of my professional career. I remember sitting in my office, sick to my stomach. Delivering bad news to a patient is never easy; delivering bad news to a NurseFriend will break your heart.

This NurseFriend is doing great. Her cancer is in remission. She’s healthy. She’s now the clinical manager of my primary care office. I’m lucky: we caught her cancer early, got her great treatment, and I get to see her smiling face every day.

To all of my NurseFriends, thank you for sharing your light with me. You are my heros not just during Nurses’ Week, but every week!

Nursology’s Philosophical and Practical Knowledge: Unified and Interdependent

Guest Contributor: Martha Raile Alligood, RN, PhD, ANEF

A few months ago, Martha Alligood sent me (Jacquelyn Fawcett) this intriguing article: Rovelli, C. (2018). Physics needs philosophy, philosophy needs physics, Foundations of Physics, 48, 481-491. We decided to write a paper, which has evolved into this blog, about the relationship between philosophy and science in nursology. The specific purpose of this blog is to underscore the importance of the relationship between practical knowing and foundational (philosophical) knowing for advancement of nursology.

Alligood writes:

Rovelli (2018) wrote about the interrelationship of philosophy and science (physics). His discussion of practical and foundational knowing led me to think about nursology and the contemporary disciplinary shift to a practical focus from one that was dominated by general foundational philosophical questions. For example, nursological literature has evolved from a strong foundational philosophical knowledge development focus on nursology’s discipline-specific concepts, models, and theories to an equally strong practical focus on quality of practice and nursing education expansion in relation to practice, specifically, the development of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs.

Time has shown the value of such shifts in focus for a discipline. Advancement of a discipline calls for recognition and valuing of the complementary relationship between practical knowing and foundational knowing, as both are essential to the development of a professional discipline, such as nursology.

Practical knowledge is–or should be–based on the results of scientific research. However, if science is essential to move the discipline ahead, then philosophy ensures that we move in the right direction. But, “a broader understanding of the interdependence of practical and philosophical matters in professional nursing is needed” (Bruce, Rietze, & Lim, 2014, p. 65). Drawing from Einstein’s discussions of the influence of philosophies and philosophers on his work, Rovelli (2018) noted, “Scientists do not do anything unless they first get permission from philosophy” (p. 484).

Rovelli’s (2018) claim of an interdependent relationship between physics and philosophy for his discipline also is relevant for nursology. That is, contemporary growth and development of nursology requires an explicit interdependent relationship between foundational knowing and practical knowing. Indeed, the re-emergence of nursology as the name for our discipline after its initial introduction in the 1970s (Fawcett, 2018) is evidence of a contemporary need for terminology at a level of abstraction to incorporate all of the discipline’s knowing–both philosophically foundational and scientifically practical.

Within nursing history there are examples of practical knowing leading to foundational knowing, such as research about the impact of patient positioning that has led to foundational knowledge, but it seems that foundational knowing has the capacity to affect practical knowing in a more powerful manner. An excellent example is the clarification of the disciplinary boundaries of nursological knowledge pertaining to human beings, environment, health, and nursing goals and processes (Fawcett, 1984; Fawcett & DeSanto-Madeya, 2013). This metaparadigmatic clarification led to expansion of nursological knowledge, practice, research, education, administration, and perhaps most importantly, a clearer understanding of the theoretical knowledge that existed at that time.  Explaining the relationship of the various models or theoretical works provided clarity and understanding to move nursological knowledge development to a new level.

Ironically, recognizing the structure within which the various conceptual and theoretical frameworks fit may be seen as both practical and philosophical. Some of the very early National League for Nursing (NLN) faculty-curriculum development work that contributed to that understanding was very practical (O’Leary, 1975; Torres & Yura, 1975). Knowledge and understanding leads to future knowledge and understanding. Thus, foundational knowing and practical knowing collectively is nursological knowing that builds on all previous knowing. That is, there is no dichotomy between philosophical and practical knowing; instead, their complementary unified interrelationship may feature one or the other at periods of growth and change in nursology. Clearly, we want to ”counter those who would discard the discipline’s theoretical traditions as irrelevant or counterproductive, we need to [position] this new generation of critical scholarship to champion the intellectually exciting and complex philosophical challenge within which nursing has been engaged throughout its ideational history” (Thorne, 2014, p. 86).

Fawcett writes:

We know from Kuhn’s (1971) classic treatise on scientific revolutions that disciplinary perspectives change over time, typically as the result of scientists’ inability to continue to find support for a previous version of the disciplinary perspective. Sometimes, the revolution is in methodological shifts and sometimes it is in philosophical paradigm shifts. An example of a methodological shift is our contemporary acceptance of mixed methods research instead of the assertion—lasting into the early 2000s–that qualitative and quantitative methods are philosophically separate and, therefore, cannot ever be combined. An example of a philosophical paradigm shift is the growing recognition and acceptance of conceptual models and theories that reflect the simultaneity world view instead of those conceptual models and theories that reflect the totality world view (Parse, 1987).

The growing interest in nursology as the name for our discipline may be the beginning of major methodological and paradigm shifts from the contemporary emphasis on practical knowledge to a fuller understanding of the vital interrelationship of foundational and practical knowledge. These shifts are evident in that acceptance of nursology as the proper name for our discipline indicate that the foundational knowledge of our discipline guides the way we view our science and our practice—always within the context of an explicit nursological conceptual model and/or theory—rather than leaving the knowledge aspect of our science and our practice to the claim of being “atheoretical” (Fawcett, 2019). As Popper (1965) pointed out, everyone has a “horizon of expectations” (p. 47), such as a conceptual model or theory that guides research and practice, and as McCrae’s (2012) noted, “the legitimacy of any profession is built on its ability to generate and apply theory” (p. 222).

Finally, as Donaldson and Crowley (1978) so wisely told us,

A key point . . . is that the discipline should be governing clinical practice rather than being defined by it. Of necessity, clinical practice focuses on the individual in the here and now who has a problem requiring relevant and appropriate action. 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 nursing 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)

References

Bruce, A., Rietze, L., & Lim, A. (2014). Understanding philosophy in a nurse’s world: What, where, and why? Nursing and Health, 2(3), 65-71.

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

Fawcett, J. (1984). The metaparadigm of nursing: Present status and future refinements. Image: The Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 16, 84 87.

Fawcett, J. (2018, September 24). Our name: Why nursology? Why .net? Retrieved from https://nursology.net/2018/09/24/our-name-why-nursology-why-net/

Fawcett, J. (2019, January 22). The impossibility of thinking “atheoretically.” Retrieved from https://nursology.net/2019/01/22/the-impossibility-of-thinking-atheoretically/

Fawcett, J., & DeSanto-Madeya, S. (2013). Contemporary nursing knowledge: Analysis and evaluation of nursing models and theories (3rd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis.

Kuhn, T. (1971). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

McCrae, N. (2012). Whither nursing models? The value of nursing theory in the context of evidence-based practice and multidisciplinary healthcare. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 68, 222–229. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05821.x

O’Leary, H. J. (1975). Changes in community nursing service that affect baccalaureate nursing programs. In Faculty-curriculum development, Part V. The changing role of the professional nurse: Implications for nursing education. New York, NY: National League for Nursing, Pub. No. 15-1574.

Parse, R. R. (1987). Nursing science: Major paradigms, theories, and critiques. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders.

Popper, K. R. (1965). Conjectures and refutations: The growth of scientific knowledge. New York, NY: Harper and Row.

Rovelli, C. (2018). Physics needs philosophy, philosophy needs physics, Foundations of Physics, 48, 481-491.

Thorne, S. (2014). Nursing as social justice: A case for emancipatory disciplinary theorizing. In P. N, Kagan, M. C. Smith, & P. L. Chinn (Eds.), Philosophies and practices of emancipatory nursing (pp.79-90). New York, NY: Routledge.

Torres, G., & Yura, H. (1975). The conceptual framework as part of the curriculum process. In Faculty-curriculum development Part III: Conceptual framework-Its meaning and function. New York, NY: National League for Nursing, Pub. No. 15-1558.

Moral ecology in nursing

by Darcy Copeland, RN, PhD*

Darcy Copeland

I have the good fortune to have two professional roles that compliment one another beautifully. As a hospital based nurse scientist I have focused my research on workforce issues including workplace violence, professional quality of life, moral distress, and the spiritual/emotional elements of providing care. I am a member of the ethics committee and participate in educational and consultation activities. I am also an associate professor of nursing and teach master’s, PhD and DNP level nursing theory courses. My days are literally sometimes spent filling the “theory-practice” gap on both sides of that gap.

One “gap”, maybe dissonance is more accurate, I notice is how messy ethical decision making is in practice compared to how clean it seems in academia. Nursing students spend time learning about the ANA Code of Ethics, written specifically to be both aspirational and normative. The nine provisions articulate values, duties, and ideals that are foundational to our discipline. Most students probably also learn principles of bioethics and research ethics and at least have a cursory understanding of these when entering clinical practice. Nursologists have debated whether or not we should develop our own ethical framework or adopt an existing framework. Personally, I oppose both of those ideas and would advocate for a pluralistic approach to addressing ethical issues in practice.

There is no debating that nurses are moral agents who must make decisions and be held accountable for their actions. Those decisions, however, occur in complex, dynamic (I’ll say messy) environments involving multiple stakeholders whose perspectives often conflict with one another. In the grand scheme of things nurses receive very little formal education related to ethics. In my experience, it is rare for a practicing nurse to justify an ethical decision by articulating anything from the code of ethics or principles of bioethics. The first thing I hear is most often something like, “it felt like the right thing to do.” This response alone would lead me to believe that the decision was based on the person’s individual moral awareness or personal value system. With more dialogue, however, it becomes clear that the nurse’s own moral compass is the starting point for ethical decision-making, not the end point. Nurses may justify their actions because it is what the patient wanted, because people have the right to make their own decisions, because it was the best way to use available resources, because it is wrong to with-hold information, because that is our policy, etc. Any and all of these are acceptable justifications to act in one way instead of another. Each of these justifications can be traced back to an ethical framework, but not the ethical framework of nursing.

It was from these experiences in teaching and applying ethics that I developed a model of moral ecology in nursing (see below). It is based on the social ecological model in which behavior is contextualized and understood as occurring within a web of complex social systems in which the individual is placed. It was developed from the perspective of American nursing, but could be modified to include the ICN code of ethics and eastern philosophy for example. I plan to use this model in my own teaching as a way to introduce students to the messiness of ethical decision making in practice.

An ecological model of ethics in nursing. © 2019 Darcy Copeland

 

Copeland, D. (in press). Moral ecology in nursing: A pluralistic approach. Sage Open Nursing DOI: 10.1177/2377960819833899

  • Darcy Copeland is an associate professor of nursing at the University of Northern Colorado and a nurse scientist at St Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, CO. She has undergraduate degrees in nursing and psychology from the University of Northern Colorado, a master’s degree in forensic nursing from Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts, a PhD in nursing from UCLA, and is pursuing a master’s degree in health humanities and ethics at the University of Colorado. Her clinical background is in mental health and forensic nursing; her research interests involve the psychosocial work environment including issues of workplace violence, moral distress, professional quality of life, and the spiritual effects of caregiving.