Values and Ethics: Foundations of Nursology.net

There are sections of many websites that are seldom visited – the mission, goals, or “About” pages that set forth the purposes that shape the content, focus and direction of the site.  Nursology.net is no exception, other than the fact that many first-time visitors may be intrigued by the name of this site and might explore the “About” menu item to learn more!

We have recently added to our “About” page a section we believe to be central to this project – our “Values and Ethics.”  These statements of value are not just words – they are the principles that guide every decision and that shape the content of this site.  Notice that central to what we value is your involvement!  Nursology.net belongs to every member of our discipline, and we welcome you to respond to any part of this site, including our statement of values and ethics!  Here is what we have posted – let us know your thoughts and ideas!

Values and Ethics

The development and maintenance of this site are guided by the following values:

  • We take every step possible to assure accuracy of content on this site by
    • Assuring review of content by members of the management team prior to activation of pages and posts.
    • Securing review and approval from any nurses who are central to the content presented (e.g. authors, key nurses involved), if those individuals are available.
    • Inviting corrections and updates from viewers who have the best information available.
    • Welcoming feedback, discussion and critique from viewers where there are issues of controversy or different points of view.
  • We assure accountability and transparency of the content on this site by:
    • Showing the name or names of the contributors who have provided the information displayed on specific pages
    • Providing the dates when content was initially posted and revised.
    • Providing links or references to sources from which content is derived, or is quoted.
  • We welcome submissions of content for each section of the website and have provided submission forms tailored to each section.  These forms are found on main pages of each section.  In addition, we welcome:
  • We will respond promptly to all communications, including requests to correct, change or remove any content that violates our commitment to  be accountable and transparent in using content from other sources.

Confronting Cultural Noise Pollution

Much earlier in my career a group of colleagues and I conducted a survey published in the American Journal of Nursing that addressed friendship in nursing*.  We were motivated to confront the message that nurses are their own worst enemies, and not friends. The results of the survey affirmed that although the message persists, and sometimes accurately describes relationships and interactions, there is ample evidence that nurses are more often than not our own best supporters and friends. I call these kinds of repeated negative messages cultural noise pollution that obscure the realities of the more accurate and complete situation – messages that obscure what is real and what is possible.

We created Nursology.net with a  similar motivation to confront the often repeated message that nursing theory is irrelevant, not necessary, or too abstract to be useful in practice.  These messages obscure the realities of the vital importance of nursing knowledge in the context of systems that serve to address the healthcare needs of our time.  They interrupt serious consideration, discussion and thought concerning who we are as nurses, what we are really all about, and why we persist in our quest to improve our practice. Failing to recognize the value of our own discipline’s knowledge, we fall prey to serving the interests of others, and neglect our own interests.

My favorite pithy definition of theory is this – theory is a vision.  Theory provides a view of concrete realities that makes it possible to mentally construct all sorts of dimensions that are not obvious to our limited perception of a situation in the moment.  It provides ways to understand how a particular “thing” comes about, what it means, what might happen next,  how the trajectory of a situation might unfold, and how human actions might change that trajectory.   In the practice of nursing, this is precisely what we are all about – we take a close look at a situation that presents a health challenge, we set about to understand what is going on beneath the surface, we examine evidence related to the situation, and we chart a course of action that might move the situation in a way that would not otherwise be possible.  People in other healthcare disciplines are doing much the same thing, but we have a nursing lens through which we as nurses view the situation.  Our  lens determines what we deem to be important in the evolution of the situation, and shapes the sensibilities we bring to the actions we take.  Our lens derives from nursology – the knowledge of the discipline.

If you take even a brief tour of Nursology.net, you will soon see that nursing theories, models and philosophies represent a coherent message focused on visions of health and well-being in the face of complex, sometimes tragic,  health challenges. You will also find a vast diversity of lenses that give a particular focus on this central message.  Some of the lenses give us a vision that is a lofty “30-thousand foot altitude” view. Some of the lenses focus in more closely on particular aspects of health challenges. There is no “right or wrong,” “better or worse.” Each lens simply brings about a different vision. Just as a camera can bring a different tone, hue or filter to see a single image in different ways, our nursing theories open possibilities and alternatives that would never be possible if we did not have the various lenses through which to view the situations we encounter. Taken together, these theories, models, philosophies form an ever-expanding nursology. Our theories, models and philosophies open possibilities for practice that can make a huge difference in the lives of real people.

We have an amazing, vast and rich heritage of nursing knowledge – and we are nowhere near done with the task!  Our vision for Nursology.net is to document and honor the serious knowledge-work that has been accomplished in the past, draw on this foundation, and inspire new directions that are yet unimagined!  We hope nurses everywhere, regardless of how or where you practice as a nurse, will join us in this journey, and add your voice to help shape what is possible! And importantly, we invite you to join us in confronting the negative, self-destructive effects of various forms of cultural noise pollution that cloud our vision!

*Friendship Study references

Chinn, P. L., Wheeler, C. E., Roy, A., Berrey, E. R., & Madsen, C. (1988). Friends on friendship. The American journal of nursing, 88, 1094–1096.

Chinn, P. L., Wheeler, C. E., Roy, A., & Mathier, E. (1987). Just between friends: AJN friendship survey. The American journal of nursing, 87, 1456–1458.

“Florence” as metaphor and reality

Nursology.net was officially launched on September 18,  2018, just as hurricane-turned-tropical storm “Florence” raged through the U.S. southeast!  The name of this storm, and the timing of our launch, seemed more than a simple coincidence, considering the significance of this name in nursing history, and for the new beginnings that each “Florence” catalyzed for the global community.

Consider:

Florence Nightingale – 1820-1910 

  • Vision of nurses as agents of societal and individual reform
  • Coupled care with political activism directed at laws and social conditions contributing to ill health – used the results of statistical analyses to convince politicians and military leaders and others about what people needed for high-quality wellness.
  • Laid foundation for professional nursing by establishing world’s first secular school for nurses at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London

 

Florence Wald – 1917-2008 

  • Dean of Yale University School of Nursing 1958-1968
  • Opened the first hospice in the United States in 1971.
  • Initiated training for inmates in Connecticut to become hospice volunteers for dying inmates, an approach that became a model for prisons worldwide.

 

 

Florence Downs – 1925-2005 

  • Director of Post Graduate and Research Programs, New York University 1972-1977
  • Associate Dean and Director of Graduate Studies, University of Pennsylvania 1977-1993
  • Served as Chairperson for more than 100 doctoral dissertation committees
  • Editor, Nursing Research 1979-1997. As the first academic editor of Nursing Research, Dr. Downs changed the editorial policies of the journal from publication of “one shot studies” and infrequent publication of the same researcher’s work to the new policies that enhanced the publication of programs of research by the same researcher or team of researchers
  • “Florence Downs, a well-recognized nursing leader, educator, editor, and Scholar helped shape nursing as an intellectual discipline and wrote extensively about the importance of links between research and practice” In Memoriam: Florence Downs. Nursing Research, 54, 373. .
  • The Florence S. Downs PhD Program in Nursing Research and Theory Development at New York University Rory Myers College of Nursing is named for Florence Downs

Each of these pre-eminent nurses who bore the name “Florence” emerged from circumstances in which they recognized that something significant needed to change – the status-quo was not sufficient. Their actions and the direction they set for the future were based on the premise that Nightingale put forward – it is the things that people do that cause illness and disease.  Like a hurricane, human actions can chart a new course, can change the lives and life-ways of so many people.

Nursology.net, is based on the belief that nursing itself holds the power to change the direction of healthcare, and to set a course toward health – for thriving in the face of hardship, and for peace in the midst of turbulent times.

Peggy L. Chinn, RN, PhD, FAAN and Jacqueline Fawcett, RN; PhD; ScD(hon); FAAN; ANEF

References for Information on Florence Downs:

Fairman J, & Mahon MM. (2001). Oral history of Florence Downs: the early years. Nursing Research, 50, 322–328.
In Memoriam: Florence Downs. Nursing Research, 54, 373.
Vessey J, & Gennaro S. (2005). The gardener: Florence Downs, August 20, 1925-September 8, 2005. Nursing Research, 54, 374–375.

Nursing theory groups: why join, my story

I serve as the president of the Society of Rogerian Scholars (SRS). I was encouraged years ago to attend the annual conference by my now colleague, but former mentor, Dottie Jones. My timing was not great for my first conference – it was the one following the death of Martha Rogers. In some ways, I felt like I was a spy at a wake, and in reality, I was. Being Irish, for whom wakes are a sport, I am comfortable in this sort of setting so being an outsider did not deter me. I watched as members who had not seen each other in months or perhaps years, hug one another, cry and laugh as they shared memories of Martha. People seemed intrigued by my being there, yet only welcomed my presence. I knew from stories I had heard before the conference that Martha was special. It was a gift to bear witness to the event and see how she influenced so many.

Once the conference kicked off and I heard the papers being presented, I was hooked. Where had these nurses been all my life? I listened to the research, practice and education presentations that focused on Martha Rogers’ Science of Unitary Human Beings (SUHB) and knew I was home – well not exactly because NYU was not my home – but home in the sense of connecting with nurses with whom I could relate. With apologies to James Joyce – Yes! A person is so much more than their disease! Yes! We need new ways of knowing, discovery and measuring outcomes beyond the empirical sciences! Yes! There is room for art, music, literature, mystery, science fiction and spirituality in nursing!

I came back from the conference knowing I would return annually. I am now a nurse educator and when I integrate my thinking about SUHB into the classroom, it resonates with my students as it had with me. I also practice as a NP in a psychiatric facility and I find that incorporating what John Phillips calls wellbecoming into my practice changes the focus from trying to fix the problem to one that maximizes personal resolve and opportunities for self-care. My research on older persons with chronic conditions is framed by SUHB and infused with Newman’s Health as Expanding Consciousness and Barrett’s Knowing Participation in Change. I see the difference nurses make when they practice from a nursing theory guided perspective.

I cannot imagine ever not being a member of SRS.  Being part of such a welcoming group of colleagues provides me with the energy, language and thinking to test out my ideas and bring them back to my academic and practice settings. It gives me the permission to be the nurse I choose to be. If you like a nursing theory or just wonder what a nursing theory group is all about, I encourage you to join one.  It might be one of the best things you do for your career and for yourself.