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. http://digitalcommons.auctr.edu/cauetds/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