Nurse's Watch: Conversations on contemporary nursing,
nursing education, leadership, spirituality and blogging.
~Start date February 2010~

Friday, October 28, 2011

Reflecting on Nursing History

Focus on nursing history and the art of reflection
In the future leadership will be an even more important aspect of nursing education. Feldman and Greenberg (2005) have included several chapters, which demonstrate creative ways to tie this information into nursing classes. Many of these ideas are creative and relevant.
One chapter captured my attention due to its emphasis on nursing history. Lewenson (2005) uses nursing history to illustrate nursing leadership. This is a great way to integrate nursing history, ethics and leadership into any class. Many nursing leaders were revolutionary individuals who bravely stepped outside of the social expectations of their time. Holmes (2008) states, “ It is the vehicle for understanding and appreciating the human situation as it has developed and evolved over time, and without it we can not claim to understand our culture, institutions or practices…” (p.104).This teaching technique engages students with inspiring stories and shows what is possible with passion, persistence and creativity.
Lewenson (2005) recounts the value of our history by quoting Lynaugh (1996) noting this is “our cultural DNA” (p.103). Further, she reflects that Christy (1969a, 1969b, 1969c, 1969d, 1970a, 1970b, 1975) wrote a series about historical nursing leaders; she has used these to inspire students to see what these nurses had to overcome to achieve their goals (Lewenson, 2005). Lewenson (2005) cautions against students using “present-mindedness” however, when interpreting these leaders actions; “present-mindedness” occurs when one judges historical information using a contemporary perspective (p.108). This can be remedied by having the students include information regarding the historical environment at the time. In 1917 the National League for Nursing Education (NLNE) suggested nursing history be added to the nursing curriculum to generate enthusiasm in nursing’s history and in the occupation, as well as, to create an appreciation for the obstacles, which had been overcome; these issues and objectives are still relevant today (Lewenson, 2005).
Lewenson (2005) notes that serendipitously nursing students noted many of the issues related to nursing have not changed, shortages, recruitment difficulties, and entry into practice debates. Further, Kearney (2010) suggests that nurses reconnect with their past to continue to fuel their passion for their daily work.
I feel that the study of history is vital for nurses. Lewenson (2005) indicated the ways which she has integrated history into the classroom, however, I feel that she has just scratched the surface of what can be done with this medium. One suggestion that could be added to this strategy would be to add present day leaders into the class through visiting lecturers, contemporary journal or news articles. While history is important visualizing current events and efforts for improvement at the local and state level can also inspire. I know that I would love to hear of contemporary educators and leaders ideas and visions for the future. Dossey (2010) states that Florence Nightingale would not want us to focus too heavily on the past but look forward to the future; thus we should look back with pride but forward with vision and anticipation.
Another very vital chapter in Feldman and Greenberg’s book was chapter nine. Morgan, Johnson, and Garrison (2005) report on the importance of the use of reflection in teaching nursing leadership. This is such an important concept for teaching, however it particularly applies to leadership. Morgan et al. note that Schon (1982) emphasizes that reflection enhances nursing skills by allowing the student to relive an experience, think about it, evaluate it, and learn from it. This reflective process promotes learning in the cognitive domain, as well as, the affective domain (Morgan et al., 2005). Consequently, reflection promotes prioritization, clarification and understanding of individual nursing practice (Morgan et al., 2005).
Reflection encourages self-appraisal, fosters critical thinking, encourages values clarification and cultivates communication (Morgan, Johnson, & Garrison, 2005). Reflection also helps students recognize patterns, form relationships, generate hypotheses, provide explanations, and draw conclusions (Morgan et al., 2005). Occasionally, students have a tendency to concentrate only on the problems, which occurred during the experience, while this is appropriate, they should be encouraged to name at least one thing that went well (Morgan et al., 2005). Langley and Brown (2010) note that most researchers value the use of reflection and feel this medium provides nurses with numerous opportunities for growth; trust between teacher and student is vital, however. I love this particular type of exploratory writing and feel that the author’s description and usage is appropriate.
While reflection is a beneficial device for students, one could argue that the addition of a rubric would provide parameters to guide the student’s thoughts and measure outcomes. In this same vein asking students to back up their insights and opinions with references from current sources will ensure optimal growth and educated conclusions. Reflection without guidance and educational expectations offers little opportunity for measurable outcomes and the development of critical thinking.
In conclusion, Dossey (2010) emphasizes that nurses must “communicate to a wider audience. This means learning to write clearly and powerfully, not only for our colleagues but also for patients, consumers, and other health care professionals, about how we as nurses integrate caring and healing” (p.223). Practicing the art of reflection can help develop the skill of writing with insight and passion. This will be particularly important as the nursing profession heads into the future.


Dossey, B. M. (2010). Florence Nightingale's vision for health and healing. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 28(4), 221-224. doi:10.1177/0898010110383111
Holmes, C. A. (2008). Historical enquiry and understanding our past. Contemporary Nurse, 30(2), 101-105.
Kearney, G. (2010). We must not forget what we once knew: An exemplar for helping nurses reconnect with their history and rediscover their passion for nursing. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 28(4), 260-262. doi:10.1177/0898010110376322
Langley, M. E., & Brown, S. T. (2010). Perceptions of the use of reflective learning journals in online graduate nursing education. Nursing Education Perspectives, 31(1), 12-17.
Lewenson, S. B. (2005). Chapter 8: Using nursing history to educate for leadership. In H. R. Feldman & M. J. Greenberg (Eds.), Educating nurses for leadership (pp. 101-109). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Morgan, D. A., Johnson, J. G., & Garrison, D. R. (2005). Chapter 9: Reflective journaling: Bridging the theory-practice gap. In H. R. Feldman & M. J. Greenberg (Eds.), Educating nurses for leadership (pp. 110-118). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a very well-informed and knowledgeable. It has amazing information. Thanks for telling the world about the history or nursing. Thanks a ton.

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