Partnership Nursing: Recovering Lost Threads of the Nursing Story

By Potter, Teddie M. | Creative Nursing, April 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Partnership Nursing: Recovering Lost Threads of the Nursing Story


Potter, Teddie M., Creative Nursing


Nursing has been challenged to claim full partnership with other health care providers. To reach this goal nurse educators must ensure that curriculum and textbooks provide appropriate content on the nature and use of power, how to collaborate, and how to develop partnerships.

The landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health ( Institute of Medicine, 2010), calls nurses to be full partners in redesigning health care in the United States. The World Health Organization (2010) has determined that interprofessional collaboration offers the best approach to dealing with the global shortage of 4.3 million health workers (p. 12). Likewise, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN, 2008) considers interprofessional communication and collaboration to be essential content for baccalaureate education of professional nurses. Nursing faculty must therefore carefully review curriculum content, intentionally assign readings, and critically analyze textbooks to make sure that partnership and collaboration are adequately addressed.

Nursing fundamentals textbooks cover foundational knowledge such as the nursing process, basic nursing skills, and nursing assessments. They are frequently one of the first required nursing textbooks; therefore, they initiate the socialization of new nurses. This study critically analyzed nursing fundamentals textbooks for content about partnership and collaboration and for ideological messages about the relationship between nurses and other health professionals. Nursing history content received focused attention because this material initiates the students' socialization process with images and stories about nursing identity.

Social theorist, author, and macrohistorian Riane Eisler's (1987) cultural transformation theory offered a theoretical template for analyzing texts for partnership content. Critical analysis revealed limited partnership and collaboration content in the nursing fundamentals textbooks. In addition, the history content supported themes of domination and neglected the narrative of nursing's rich partnership tradition.

A new story is needed if nurses are to be full partners with other health professionals. This study explored the autobiographical writings of historic nurse exemplars, discovering lost threads of the nursing story that may empower nurses and guide collaborative nursing practice today.

PROBLEM STATEMENT

In 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was signed into law. Although many agree that the law still requires extensive work, it offers an initial step toward reining in health care costs that make the current health care system in the United States unsustainable.

Nurses are the largest group of health care workers in the United States (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009), and the public trusts nurses more than any other profession (Gallup Poll, 2009; Jones, 2005). Therefore, nurses are positioned to play a significant role in future models of health care. In fact, the Institute of Medicine (2010) calls for nurses to be full partners with other health professionals in the redesign of health care in the United States.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (2010) recently funded a survey of significant stakeholders in health care. The report of the findings includes the statement:

From reducing medical errors to enhancing the quality of care, from promoting wellness to improving efficiency and reducing costs, an overwhelming majority of opinion leaders say that nurses should have more influence in our health care system. But these opinion leaders-including insurance, corporate, health services, government and industry thought leaders as well as university faculty-see significant barriers to nurses' participating fully as leaders in health care. (p. x)

The chief barrier identified in the report was that nurses are not perceived to be important decision makers compared to physicians. …

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