Defining the “what” and “how” of nursing | UCI News


Philosophy has been a part of nursing at least since the time of Florence Nightingale. Working independently or in teams, nurses take care of the sick, injured, disabled and dying; promote the health of individuals, families and communities; and are leaders in health care management, research, policy development and patient advocacy. Of all the healthcare professionals who take care of patients, the nurse is the constant in their care. It is precisely this uniqueness that makes a standard definition of nursing nearly impossible.

“In nursing, you can’t be sure what’s going to happen in 10 minutes, let alone the end of your shift,” says Miriam Bender, associate professor of nursing at UCI. “We have a problem, literally, in accepting the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of our practice. “

To help address this issue, she established the UCI Nursing Philosophy Center in 2019. It provides a forum for discourse, discussion and scholarship on an ever-changing profession. It is the first such university center in the United States and Bender is its founding director.

“The idea of ​​philosophy and nursing is because we manage the present moment, we manage the difference, we manage the unique – and this is something that traditional knowledge structures and processes do not. don’t really match, ”she said. “We deal with unstable patients, hospital systems with inadequate or different resources, so we do things in this complexity, reliably and consistently. What we have noticed is that the philosophy provides us with a context to talk about our ‘what’ and ‘how’ of nursing in a way that is more flexible and allows a bit more freedom than the established generation framework. knowledge. “

Speech, discussion and scholarship

The Zoom Lectures and Reading Groups hosted by the Center for Nursing Philosophy encompass a wide range of topics, from Jainism to racism, and have garnered great interest and participation from colleagues in the United States and around the world. An annual scholarship supporting promising nursing graduate students and new nursing faculty members continues the development and dissemination of the Nursing Philosophy Scholarship.

The first CNP scholar, Zahra Sharifiheris, UCI graduate nursing student, carried out a comprehensive assessment of the concept of philosophy of nursing in the existing literature. She presented her findings at the 2020 International Philosophy of Nursing Society virtual conference.

“Nursing has suffered from the lack of an agreed-upon source of knowledge, so it has often borrowed ideas and sources of knowledge from other relevant fields, such as medical humanities or philosophy,” says Sharifiheris. “The problem exists because nursing has a unique perspective on the health of patients. We don’t just look at what we can test and observe, and then apply a specific framework and rule. One standard does not work because people have different backgrounds and cultures. We need flexibility to create new, reliable nursing knowledge.

This year’s CNP Fellow is Jess Dillard-Wright, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Augusta University in Georgia. The goal of his scholarship is radical ethics. “The goal is to find answers to questions that offer a different version of what a nurse looks like, other than the traditional ‘lady with the lamp’. I really love getting in touch with people outside the field and coming up with ways to assess how nursing fits in society so that we think about health and wellness in terms of community, rather than so narrowly focused on the individual, ”she says.

Bringing philosophy into the real world

Josh Dolin is a graduate student in philosophy at the UCI School of Humanities. He and Bender – along with idea author Mark Risjord, professor of philosophy at Emory University – are currently developing a pilot course for graduate nursing students and junior nursing professors interested in the field. intersection of philosophy and nursing scholarship.

“Philosophers argue cautiously and seek conceptual clarity. They have technical tools, mostly logic and a number of concepts and distinctions, that can shed light on just about any problem, ”says Dolin. “Some philosophers are interested in applying their technical tools to questions regarding public affairs and professional roles, which I have always wanted to do. I’m always looking for opportunities to bring philosophy to the real world, so to speak, and thought that getting involved with the UCI Center for Nursing Philosophy was one of those opportunities. .

Bender believes that the philosophy provides the flexible framework that allows nurses to solve problems and find solutions that traditional approaches do not. “Often we use a more philosophical and dialectical discourse,” she says. “For example, the COVID pandemic is a dynamic, fast-paced situation. Conventional research methods take too long to generate the knowledge for action, and by the time you have, the world has changed and things are different. Welcome to nursing.

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