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Posts tagged ‘Danny G. Willis’

Realizing the focus of the discipline of nursing

The final featured article for this important issue of ANS (Vol 42:1) relates the perspective of doctoral students who share the experience of discovering the vital importance of nursing’s underlying perspective as an underpinning for practice.  The title of the article is “Realizing the Focus of the Discipline: Facilitating Humanization in PhD Education A Student Exemplar Integrating Nature and Health” by Tara M. Tehan, MSN, MBA, RN; Amanda E. Cornine, MSN, RN; Rita K. Amoah, BEd, BSN, RN; Thin Zar Aung, BSN, RN; Danny G. Willis, DNS, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN; Pamela J. Grace, PhD, RN, FAAN; Callista Roy, PhD, RN, FAAN; Kathleen A. Averka, BA; Donna J. Perry, PhD, RN. The four doctoral student authors of this article shared this description of their experience:

Our article, “Realizing the Focus of the Discipline: Facilitating Humanization in PhD Education” began as an assignment in our nursing theory class. When Dr. Perry asked our cohort of four to “apply a nursing theoretical lens to nature and health” never in our wildest dreams could we anticipate that the assignment would lead to this article. Each of us was still learning what it meant to be a doctoral student, all while balancing careers and families.

Dr. Perry encouraged us from the onset to be creative and to consider untraditional products for this assignment. This license to think beyond the boundaries of papers and presentations spurred reflection and thought from the beginning and allowed us the opportunity to integrate the various roles we lived. In hindsight a children’s book seemed an obvious choice. Our classmate, Rita, recently reflected on what this assignment meant to her as a mother:

 Being in a graduate school as a wife and a mother of three young children is very challenging and stressful in all possible senses – physically, emotionally, and psychologically. The guilt of not being there for my children and countless occasions of delegating parent conferences and my kids’ games and performances to my husband become overwhelming sometimes. Studies evince a significant negative relationship between work-family conflict and life satisfaction, work satisfaction, and family satisfaction. As interpersonal support from family increases, perceived stress in graduate education decreases as noted by Iniki (2018).

This scholarly work undertaken with my colleagues that yielded this publication brought the assertions above into reality for me as a beneficiary with my first-grade daughter as the supporting agent to mitigate stress. The choice of including my child in this project was pricelessly meaningful to both of us. I remember how my daughter’s eyes widened with gleam and excitement the day I invited her to help my classmates and me do a project. Her anthem to siblings and friends through the week was, “I’m helping my mom and friends in their school project!” My personal interpretation of those words of hers is, “My mom’s schooling is not depriving me of her after all; I could still have fun with her even when she’s doing schoolwork!” To this day, Yiedie and I still reminisce on our experience on the trip to take pictures for this project. The lovely memories of the day are etched in our hearts.

As we worked together creating the book, we realized how transformative this assignment had been. By applying nursing theory in general, and the unifying focus specifically, we came to understand nursing theory and knowledge not as a static framework but as a reciprocal guide that is generated from experience and in turn guides practice. More importantly, we experienced humanization and improved quality of life. It is quite possible the renewal that came from this assignment carried us through the remainder of the year!

We hope this article spurs faculty and students to consider ways to apply nursing theory in a way that is meaningful to them.  We truly believe that theory guided practice comes from knowing and embracing theory in a practical and personally relevant way. Finally, we applied the principles of the unifying focus to public health. In the future we plan to further disseminate the  book to encourage children to enjoy the wonders of nature.  We hope that nurses in all role groups and settings can consider how they can apply the concepts of humanization, meaning, choice, quality of life and health to their practices; for it is through these concepts that we differentiate our practice from those of other health disciplines.

Thin Zar Aung, BSN, RN
Rita K. Amoah, BSN, RN
Amanda E. Cornine, MSN, RN
Tara M. Tehan, MSN, MBA, RN


Iniki, F. 2018),”My Life’s in Shambles: Examining Interpersonal Relationships as a Moderating Factor in Reducing Post-Graduate Stress” (Electronic Theses & Dissertations Collection for Atlanta University & Clark Atlanta University. 131.

Willis DG, Grace PK, Roy, C. A central unifying focus for the discipline: facilitating humanization, meaning, choice, quality of life, and healing in living and dying. ANS Advances in Nursing Science. 2008; 31 (1) :E28-E40. Doi:10.1097/01.ANS.000311534.0459.d9

Spiritual Knowing

Danny G. Willis

The current featured article from the current issue of ANS is titled “Spiritual Knowing Another Pattern of Knowing in the Discipline” by Danny G. Willis, DNS, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN; Danielle M. Leone-Sheehan, MS, RN. In this article, the authors call for “stunning clarity” about the focus of the discipline. We are featuring this article during the time that a large number of nursing scholars will be gathered at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio, USA) toe.  examine the focus of the discipline, and chart the course forward in the development of nursing knowledge.  This article, and the other articles in this issue of ANS focusing on this topic, will be available on the ANS website at no cost for the next few weeks.  Dr. Willis sent this background about the work on which this article is based:

When Danielle Leone-Sheehan and I wrote this paper, it came from our collaborative engagement in living nursing theory and caring. Our experiences as n: urses and human beings compelled us to write about that which was special to us within the unitary field. As nurses grounded in nursing disciplinary knowledge and deeply appreciative of the view of life’s unfoldment afforded from within nursing’s unitary-transformative paradigm, we felt it important to explicate spiritual knowing as another pattern of knowing in nursing.  In a sense, we wanted to act as ‘illuminators of spiritual knowing’ drawing upon wisdom deep within ourselves that reflected our experiences as healers and teachers oriented towards all that is good, wholesome, and healing in being human. In our collective experiences across multiple dimensions of our lives as private citizens as well as in our nursing research, clinical nursing experiences, and teaching-learning-mentoring work with students, we’ve experienced the value of being the recipient of and holding-for-others this expanded spiritual consciousness  of compassion, peace, patience, kindness, and gentleness. We’ve known the power of spiritual knowing when discerning meaning or finding strength within difficult situations. We’ve felt compelled to claim and lift up that which is spiritual and central in the work of healing, caring, and humanization in its fullest sense.

This journey into the land of spiritual knowing has been inspiring. We look forward to the evolution of our expanded unitary spiritual knowing as the years unfold ahead. As we were planning this paper, our common insight was that spiritual knowing is real; yet, spiritual knowing has not been named, lifted up, privileged, and talked about within the wide world of nursing. This insight energized us to change this unfortunate reality. We named spiritual knowing as a unitary-transformative pattern of knowing the world. And, as we often reflect, once you’ve experienced spiritual knowing there’s nothing quite like it. There is a feeling of  alignment with a universal world of goodness without boundaries. Spiritual knowing is pan-dimensional and healing. It uplifts one’s consciousness into a more expansive unitary thought model than is possible without it. Spiritual knowing is important to human wellbeing such that nurses need to engage in further research/study about this pattern of knowing particularly with relevance to how nursing and caring grounded in spiritual consciousness influences nursing-sensitive caring outcomes and human wellbeing.

We wrote this paper to strongly advocate for spiritual knowing and to  intentionally focus our work as caring healers on spiritual qualities that uplift humankind. It has been our experience that human beings typically do well with lovingkindness, compassion, forgiveness, peacefulness, and experiencing self-other and living-dying within a larger framework of meaning and purpose. We are pleased that we have named and claimed spiritual knowing as a pattern of knowing for the discipline and profession of nursing on behalf of those we serve. We hope other nurses will find our writings valuable contributions to the ongoing evolution of nursing. Opening and Welcoming All – Come walk with us on this inspiring and expanding unitary-transformative journey.

A Humanizing Model for Nursing Social Justice Action

The latest featured article from the current issue of ANS is titled “Exercising Nursing Essential and Effective Freedom in Behalf of Social Justice: A Humanizing Model” by Donna J. Perry, PhD, RN; Danny G. Willis, DNS, RN, PMHCNS-BC; Kenneth S. Peterson, PhD, FNP-BC; and Pamela J. Grace, PhD, RN, FAAN. Using powerful personal narratives, the authors provide examples of ways they have broken through barriers, to exercise effective freedom and take specific social justice action within nursing.  Dr. Perry provided this description of their work:

It is increasingly clear that health is dependent upon multiple underlying social factors including environmental conditions, economic status, access to education, employment and a peaceful and participatory society.  These conditions are distributed unequally within our global community.  In this paper we discuss the nursing mandate to act for social justice and the constraints that prevent nursing from realizing this goal.   We argue that nursing has been impeded in addressing underlying socio-political issues that impact health because nursing has historically been positioned within an institutionalized medical paradigm.  We propose a model of nursing essential and effective freedom based on the philosophy of Bernard Lonergan as a framework for addressing barriers to nursing action for social justice.  And we share our personal challenges and strategies for addressing social justice as nurses working in various settings.


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