A NURSING THEORY REVIVAL!
The year 2019 was a banner year for nursing theory and nursing knowledge development! After several decades of being focused on the development of empirical nursing research, and advances in the development of methods for research, many nurse scholars came to recognize that in this process, the importance of theory and fundamental ideals and values of our discipline had slipped into the background. This drift away from nursing theory was evident in the trend toward eliminating courses and curriculum content focused on nursing theories, and along with this trend a tendency to allow other perspectives to dominate, particularly perspectives derived from a medical model. The fact is that there is nothing inherently “wrong” with medical model perspectives per se, and certainly nurses require a great deal of knowledge and understanding related to medical diagnosis and treatment. But when nursing is dominated by medical concerns, we tend to lose sight of the underlying values that give rise to our most valuable contributions to health care.
The growing concern that nursing values were slipping into the background grew from recognition that health care systems were becoming increasingly bereft of a significant concern for people in need—someone who understands their particular situation and can help navigate through their experience. In a word—someone who cares!
As this concern grew, groups of nurse leaders established the Nursology.net Web site (https://nursology.net/) and organized 2 landmark conferences that, in turn, gave rise to the establishment of an annual nursing theory conference—to be held in the spring every year! The March 2019 Case Western Reserve nursing theory conference focused on celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first known nursing theory conferences in 1968-1970. The 2019 conference featured presentations by a number of seasoned scholars and doctoral students, discussing the evolution of their theory-related work with an eye toward the future evolution of nursing theory (see https://nursology.net/history/past-nursology-events/a-50-year-perspective-cleveland-oh-march-21-22-2019/). As an outcome of this conference, a group of doctoral students from schools all over the United States organized a Nursology Theory Collective; this group is dedicated to the future of nursing firmly grounded in nursing's most fundamental ideals and values (see https://nursology.net/category/nursology-theory-collective/).
Then in November, the King International Nursing Group (K.I.N.G) hosted a collaborative conference sponsored by 11 other nursing theory–related societies and associations (see https://nursology.net/history/past-nursology-events/king-conference-washington-dc-area-november-14-16-2019/).
The mission of the Annual Nursing Theory Conference team is as follows:
... to provide a global forum where all nurses can gather to nurture and critique nursing theory, thereby expanding nursing's unique disciplinary knowledge for practice, research, education, and policy. Recognizing that the ultimate purpose of nursing is the improvement of the health and well-being of all people, situated in the wholeness of their system context, we commit to supporting a place for active and equitable theoretical discourse. We value, support, and encourage the diversity of theoretical perspectives in nursing to enhance our unique knowledge base. Grounding us firmly in these tenets, we acknowledge the powerful link between philosophy, theory, research, and social change. (https://nursingtheoryconference.com/about/)
The Second Annual Nursing Theory conference is happening just as this issue of Advances in Nursing Science is published—March 20-21, 2020! I invite you to follow the ongoing development of this annual event and participate as you are able!
—Peggy L. Chinn, PhD, RN, FAAN