By Dean CARMELITA C. DIVINAGRACIA
MUCH ATTENTION HAS BEEN PLACED ON THE nursing education landscape in recent years. We have taken steps to introduce greater diversity and flexibility into the system to give our students more choices, and to allow them to progress according to their individual abilities. As we reposition and reorient our schools to meet the demands of the future, we must provide our students with the core knowledge and skills that will be relevant in the future. We must instill in them the physical, emotional and mental attributes that will position them to take advantage of the new opportunities arising in an increasingly globalized world.
At the core of a successful educational framework for nursing students are the values that define a nurse's character. Knowledge and skills must, of course, be anchored by the cardinal value of caring- for a caring attitude shapes a nurse's beliefs, attitudes and actions. Caring is central to our approach in nurturing 21st-century competencies in our young nurses. In a globalized world, amidst an onslaught of competing images and ideas, it is easy for our new nurses to lose a sense of who they are and what they stand for. Our nursing students require sound guidance, not only in the pursuit of academic excellence, but also in adhering to the basic moral and social values and principles that define a true nurse.
In the age of the Internet, our roles as teachers and mentors have also changed. We are no longer the sole purveyor of information, though some core knowledge of nursing remains vital. Rather, the role of an educator has shifted towards that of a facilitator who passes on ways of learning, guides her students across the often-overwhelming terrain of the information super-highway, and cultivates in her students an open yet discriminating mind towards multiple versions of facts. Yet, despite these changes, the central mission of teaching nurses remains constant-to develop every nursing student to his or her fullest potential and to care for the welfare and well-being of every one of them, that they may in turn learn how to care and practice what they learn. An education in caring remains at the very heart of educating a nurse.
Teachers, not textbooks or exams or syllabuses, are ultimately what makes nursing education succeed. And the teachers who make a difference in their students' lives are those who demonstrate care and concern for their students as individuals, who help them up when they fall, and give them the confidence that they need to beat seemingly insurmountable odds. The best teachers are also the most caring teachers. Caring teachers help their students develop the right values and attitudes through personal interactions. Their students look up to them as role models-they take their cue from them in terms of beliefs, values and hopes. They are the ones who are able to identify and harness the innate abilities of each of their students; who never give up on even the most recalcitrant; who enable and empower them.
I am doubly proud and fortunate to have had a personal encounter with a renowned international nursing theorist whose work deals on Theory of Human Caring: Dr. Jean Margaret Watson, who came all the way from the United States upon the invitation of the UERMMMCI College of Nursing and the Association of Deans of Philippine Colleges of Nursing (ADPCN), of which I am the President. The UERM CON and ADPCN worked in tandem to bring to the Philippines for the first time a great, caring woman.
The whole idea started when Professor Ma. Luisa T. Uayan, President of the UERMNAA and the College Secretary of the College of Nursing, Dr. Wilhelmina Z. Atos, made an out-of-the-box plan of inviting this nursing theorist who has charted her name in the nursing global world. Dr. Jean Watson can be described as a person larger that life itself. Her aura exudes that of a real Florence Nightingale' warm, compassionate, kind, gentle and loving. In nursing, both in the undergraduate and graduate programs, her Human Caring theory and related works are talked about, adopted as a model in nursing practice, education and research.
Her theory of Human Caring Model revolves around the 10 Carative behaviors, which have been changed after a careful review and empirical studies into the Caritas Process. These include: Humanistic-Altruistic Values-Practice of Loving-Kindness and Equanimity with Self and Others, Enabling Faith and Hope, Being Present Authentically, Sensitivity to Self-Others, Ongoing Spiritual Development, Developing Authentic Trusting Caring Relationships, Allowing Expression of Positive-Negative Feelings: Listening to Another's Story, Creating Problem-Solving Caring Process, Relational Teaching-Learning/Inner Subjective Meaning, Creating Healing Environment-Being/Becoming the Caritas Field, Assistance with Basic Needs-Sacred Acts, and Open to Existential-Spiritual Unknowns: Allows for Mystery and Miracle.
Dr. Jean Watson is the Founder of the international non-profit Watson Caring Science Institute in 2007 in Denver, Colorado, with the mission to restore the profound nature of caring-healing in today's health care systems and to retain its most precious resource, caring professional nurses and transdiciplinary care team members. She has written and published researches and books related to caring; some of these are Nursing Human Science and Human Care: A Theory of Nursing and Toward a Caring Curriculum: A New Pedagogy for Nursing.
The Human Caring encounter with Dr. Jean Watson-together with various deans, faculty members, students, nursing service administrators and staffers, as well as nursing leaders of different organizations all over the Philippines-took place in the historic Manila Hotel, and at UE and UERM Theaters on significant dates from December 13 to 16, 2010. This four-day personal encounter is a treasured experience for a lifetime.
I would like to remember her, the proponent of the Model of Human Caring Theory, with these words of wisdom of hers: "We are the light in institutional darkness, and in this model we get to return to the light of our humanity."
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