Reflections on the 6th National Nursing Ethics Conference

by Guest Blogger Darcy Copeland

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Ethics of Caring ®– the 6th National Nursing Ethics Conference was held at the University of California, Los Angeles March 21-22.  The theme of this year’s conference was Vulnerability and Presence:  An invitation to explore the intersection of vulnerability and the power of presence.  The two days were packed with keynote, plenary, breakout sessions and case discussions.

Joan Liaschenko

Joan Liaschenko delivered the opening keynote session: “The Moral Work of Nursing, Vulnerability, and Moral Community.”  The moral work of nursing involves acting for patients, helping patients have a life, and advocacy and relationship with others is the vehicle for nursing, our instrument.  Attendees were challenged to transform our work environments into moral communities. We are all vulnerable to the actions of others.  Nursing has a very important role in healthcare and we must hold others accountable to take our concerns seriously because our part is just as important as any other.

Denise Dudzinski then led a discussion, “Tackling Moral Distress with the Moral Distress Map”.  Nurses are susceptible to moral distress in part because of our strong commitment to the wellbeing of others.  We have a heightened sense of moral responsibility – and in general, we have more responsibility in our work than we do authority.  Our moral responsibility coming into contact with powerlessness can result in moral distress.  A challenging situation an audience member experienced was used to walk through the steps of a moral map:  identifying emotions, sources, constraints, conflicting responsibilities, possible actions, and final action.

Amy Haddad

Amy Haddad, a Hastings Center Fellow, described the poetry of witness and confessional writing in her closing, “Can You Describe This? Bearing Witness to Vulnerability”.  In sharing some of her own poetry she illustrated what is means to bear witness to the suffering of others.  Powerful examples of vulnerability from the perspectives of patients and providers were read, and felt, through the medium of poetry.

Kathy Brown-Saltzman led a discussion with Marsha Fowler who described her love affair with the ANA Code of Ethics.  She shared her personal journey to her ethics and spirituality work in nursing and inspired us all to envision the Code of Ethics as a document capable of guiding us in virtually any situation in which we find ourselves.

Jay Baruch, an assistant professor of medicine and author, described caring for others as caring for their stories during “Can We Write a Better Story for Ourselves”.  He embodied the conference’s vulnerability theme by sharing excerpts from some of his own, unpublished stories.

Daniel Goldberg

Daniel Goldberg, a historian and public health ethicist, connected the dots between stigma and vulnerability with “Vulnerability, Ethics, and Nursing:  Considering Health Stigma”.  Stigmatization results in certain groups of people experiencing worse morbidity and mortality outcomes when compared to groups who are not stigmatized. It is antithetical to our professional values.  Despite these both being the case, stigmatization of patient groups by providers is common.  The complexity of this structural/social phenomenon was discussed.

In between these phenomenal presentations were two case based small group discussions and a variety of break-out sessions focused on moral distress, vulnerability, stigma, healthcare ethics consultation, and the power and uses of stories and poetry.

Thank you to all members of the planning committee for putting together a truly remarkable conference.

Reflections on Case Western Reserve “Nursing Theory: A 50 Year Perspective Past and Future”

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On March 21-22, 2019, about 120 nurse scholars gathered in Cleveland, Ohio to celebrate 50 years since the earliest nursing theory conferences were held at Case Western Reserve and the University of Colorado.  (see 1967, 1968 and 1969 details). I believe this vibrant conference will be recognized as another landmark event in the history of nursing, a time when we renewed our appreciation of our core nursology ideas, ideals, mission and purposes, a time when we envisioned new possibilities, and a time when we launched significant initiatives to bring our values into action. The many doctoral students who attended, and who presented their work, speak to the significance of this event for the future.

We will be posting many of the presentations on the Nursology.net page for this conference as soon as they become available!

Here are reflections from a few of our nursology.net management team members who were there!

Leslie Nicoll –
It was a great conference overall–I am glad I went and had the opportunity to present. It was wonderful being with “like minded” folks and having the chance to spend two days thinking about nursing theory, science, and knowledge. I haven’t done that for awhile and it was a good exercise for my brain!
Looking around the room, certainly we skewed older, but I was encouraged by the younger people–doctoral students–and their enthusiasm. I think we definitely need to think about how we “pass the baton” from us oldsters to those who will be carrying on this work. This did get mentioned in the closing discussion but I think we need to be explicit and supportive. As many noted, nursing theory can get pushed aside or taken out of nursing curricula and that is not a good thing, since it underpins all of what we think and do.
One other thought–I was struck by how much Cleveland has changed, and in a good way! I am a CWRU alum from the mid-1980s. Although I didn’t spend a lot of time on campus/in Cleveland since I was a long-distance, summer student, my impression at the time was that Cleveland was definitely a city that was experiencing a very rough patch in its history. It’s nice to see the positive changes–the city looks much more vibrant, is cleaner, and feels safer. I would enjoy going back for another conference and have more time to look around!
Dorothy Jones –

Comments from students and others attending the Theory Conference.

This was a conference to enjoy…it resonated with what I believe nursing knowledge brings to patients, families and communities and reinforces in me that ‘ this is the work I want to do to move the discipline forward”,

This work is my passion, meetings like this reinforces the fact that others think so to.

“The work done to promote the Nursology site as well as the amazing discussions at this meeting reflect a wealth of nursing knowledge yet to be explored and expanded”.

as one student described the meeting…”you are my hero’s … what I read about… what I believe and value.”

Hearing the voices of nursologists … reinforces my dedication to nursing knowledge development. “You must keep these meetings going”.

“It was wonderful, exciting and inspiring meeting”.

Jacqueline Fawcett –

The conference was filled with exceedingly stimulating papers and discussions by “stars” and “rising stars” of nursology.  My “take away” from Peggy Chinn’s keynote address is that we DO have a focus for the discipline of nursology, although the specific focus varies. This message propels us into the future, where ALL nursologists will clearly articulate the disciplinary focus of their choice and progress to much more explicit theory development, with the understanding that the research findings = theory and theory = evidence for practice.

Danny Willis –

The 50th Anniversary for Nursing Theory at Case Western Reserve University was an excellent conference bringing together the past, present, and future!! Powerful and relevant messages were delivered by all the presenters throughout the two days. However, in this blog, I will focus only on the opening panel presentation and keynote. One of the most inspiring overarching messages coming out of the conference was delivered in the keynote address by Dr. Peggy Chinn when she indicated that we in the discipline and profession of nursing (Nursology) do have a clear focus and identity that we are communicating widely to the world. She gave more than one example of how this is occurring. This and other messages about the central themes clarifying the discipline were timely and significant. Dr. Marlaine Smith clarified central themes of the discipline from an historical view/analysis of the literature on the focus of the discipline to identify human wholeness, health/healing/wellbeing, human-environment-health relationship, and caring.  Dr. Callista Roy promoted the central unifying focus statement of Willis, Grace, & Roy (2008) namely, facilitating humanization, meaning, choice, quality of life and healing in living and dying as the overarching goals for knowledge/theory development.  Dr. Joyce Fitzpatrick and Dr. Mary Jane Smith clarified the unitary transformative perspective of person-environment-health process; and Dr. Pamela Reed advanced a philosophical perspective (Intermodernism) for the development of scientific theory. The convergence of ideas was clarifying and powerful and still provided space for future developments. I walked away from the conference inspired to continue writing and researching and with a healthy hope for the future of nursing. It was a pleasure to interact with students from various programs and to see their lights shine when discussing the future of theory in the discipline! We must continue this work and have biennial events in which we bring together all the best of our thinkers to advance theory with all of its worth to humankind.

Margaret Dexheimer-Pharris –

Underneath the umbrella of Danny Willis’s overview of the keynotes, I would like to bring in a few highlights from just a few of the 66 stellar breakout sessions. Marry Antonelli cautioned that the “mismeasure” of the significance of nursing knowledge blurs the unique contribution nursing brings to interdisciplinary collaboration. Pamela Grace called for nursing faculty to steep themselves in nursing theory lest they be coopted; Grace proposed a definition of nursing science that resolves the question of whether nursing science is a basic or applied science (to be published in a forthcoming issue of Nursing Philosophy). Helen Erickson, Elizabeth Cunniff and colleagues, and Debra Hanna addressed various aspects of designing and delivering nursing curricula steeped in nursing theory. Leslie Nicoll awoke the audience at the end of the day with research findings on how often nurse scholars cite the work of other nurse scholars. We all left that presentation with a new sensitivity to and passion for uplifting the knowledge of the discipline. Finally, Brandon Brown from the University of Vermont gave a riveting presentation on “The Convergence of Indigenous Knowledge, Ecology, and Nursing Theory,” calling us to use an Indigenous lens to more fully envision nursing’s responsibility to all living beings, nature, and our entire environment. I came away from this conference with a renewed spirit and a sense of resurgence, convergence, and urgency. It is obvious that nurses and nursing students around the world are eager to articulate and embrace nursing knowledge—there is a resurgence. We are finding ways to come together to advance the knowledge of the discipline—there is a convergence. Finally, we are realizing that the earth and all her inhabitants need an expanded commitment of nurse caring—there is an urgency.

Marian Turkel –

Peggy thank you for your profound commitment to Nursology and the Nursology website. Danny thank you for starting the Nursology discussion thread. Your thoughts are prolific and visionary and will advance the future of Nursology . For me the conference was intellectually stimulating and the presentations from the Nursologists  in attendance will continue to advance disciplinary specific Nursology knowledge. Being at the conference affirmed for me the importance of advancing nursing theory in education, practice and research and sharing the Nursology website more intentionally with students and colleagues. I am proud to call my self a Nursologist.

Jane Flanagan –
As Danny and Jacqui said, this was a wonderful conference during which many ideas were shared and great conversations were had. It was stimulating and I feel honored to have been a part of it. My takeaway in addition to what has already been said is that nursing theory is alive and well! As we individually and collectively move our work forward, grounded in nursing theory, this will become clear to all those who now wander not yet fully knowing of nursology!
See more photos here

Opening session speakers (L to R) Joyce Fitzpatrick, Peggy Chinn, Mary Jane Smith, Marlaine Smith, Callista Roy, Pamela Reed

Opening panel: Pamela Reed speaking. Seated: Joyce Fitzpatrick, Mary Jane Smith, Marlaine Smith, Callista Roy

Mary Antonelli breakout session.

Rosemary Eustace breakout session

PhD student Beth Cunniff with Peggy Chinn

Dorothy Jones presenting, Jane Flanagan seated.

Nursology cookies contributed by Christina Nyirati (prepared by Christina’s daughter)

Jane Flanagan, Pam Grace, Dorothy (Dotty) Jones, Danny Willis, Cathy Cuchetti, Sister Callista Roy, Mary Antonelli, Jane Hopkins Walsh ~~Boston College past and present

L-R Jane Hopkins-Walsh, Brandon Brown, Peggy Chinn, Jessica Dillard-Wright, Christina Nyirati

Celebrating 30 years! The Society of Rogerian Scholars

On October 5-7, the Society of Rogerian Scholars had its 30th Anniversary conference

Dorothy Larkin

at New York University hosted by Dean Eileen Sullivan Marx with sponsorship from the University of Connecticut. And what an energizing conference it was!  Arlene Farren and the conference planners mapped out an amazing program. Dorothy Larkin opened the conference discussing ideas around holistic nursing and unitary caring science. She also led a panel discussion on the work of New York’s College of New Rochelle School of Nursing and how they infuse of Unitary Science in the Bachelor of Nursing Program.  Friday evening, we were fortunate to be the guests of Dr. Marx at a beautiful reception

John Phillips

overlooking the East River.

On Saturday, keynote speaker John Phillips discussed unitariology and nursology, providing us each with a deeper understanding of what it means to be unitary

transcendent beings on our journey as nurses. There were so many wonderful talks in the ensuing sessions. A panel discussion on power theories from Drs. Elizabeth Barrett, Peggy Chinn and E. Carol Polifroni moderated by Dr. Amy Moore with commentary from Dr. Jacqui Fawcett illuminated the idea of power as freedom and the unique role of nurses as “being the light twinkling in the darkness of health care”.

Standing L-R Jacqueline Fawcett, Carol Polifroni, Peggy Chinn. Seated Amy Kenefick Moore, Elizabeth Barrett

We heard from three new Rogerian Scholars, all students who presented their work in

Mary Antonelli

an interactive poster session to a packed room. Dr. Mary Antonelli, the 2017 Martha E, Rogers Scholars’ Fund recipient, presented her profound work on older adult couples living with chronic illness.  We all recognized the uniqueness of this nursing theory guided study, the results of which will inform caregiving in new ways.  We tearfully listened and with fond memories reminisced and as Anna Biley, Fran’s described her most personal journey of grief and healing through a Caring Science lens. What a gift she was to us.

In other sessions, the attendees agreed they do

Dorothy Jones

not want to hear the phrase “I am just a nurse.”  This sentiment was affirmed in Dr. Dorothy Jones’s work on the professional practice scale that illuminated the sacred space nurses share with their patients.  Closing speaker Howard Butcher provided a stunningly beautiful visual interpretation of unitary science through the lens of Cape Cod beaches. A fun silent auction once again this year raised over $1,000 to support future Rogerian Scholars.

Next year we will be joining other nursing theory groups in Washington D.C. on November 14-15, 2019 at the KING Conference.  See the listing of

Howard Butcher

conferences  on our “Future Events”  main menu, and the “Abstracts Due” section of the sidebar to submit an abstract for several of these conferences. At the KING conference next year,  each theory group will be allotted time for an annual business meeting. I hope to see you all there!