August 8, 2020

Model and Process in Nursing Orientation, Part 3

I began this series on model and process in nursing orientation to begin a dialogue on this important aspect of nursing life.  Two weeks ago, I compared nursing orientation experiences I have had. Last week, I introduced some common elements of the process of nursing orientation.  What do these experiences and elements of process have to do with the notion of model in nursing orientation?

By model, I mean the basic organization of the nursing community into which new staff are inducted, as reflected in the processes utilized in orientation.  In other words, model is neither structure nor process, but more like a combination of the two plus some governing ideals.  Model encompasses the nature of the basic elements of the nursing community in relation to each other, how they relate to each other, and the medium in which those relationships develop.

Obviously, nursing communities are dynamic systems.  Beyond the lives of the individuals involved, there is the ongoing life of the nursing community, or for simplicity, the nursing unit.  Nurses are people.  Just as societies are comprised of people entwined in a complex network of relationships to each other and to their environment, individual nursing staff are connected to each other in typically human ways.  So human nature underlies nursing community just as it does human society in general.

Enter: anthropology.  In short, anthropology is the study of human nature and human behavior and society.  Long before there was a social science of anthropology, people have thought deeply about their nature as human beings.  Many fields of human endeavor have been considered in the light of anthropology, including nursing.  In fact, there is even an organization devoted to the exploration of nursing and anthropology.  The Council on Nursing and Anthropology has existed for about 30 years and meets in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology.

Each of the elements of process in nursing orientation that I mentioned last week could be discussed at length in a series of its own.  Actually, I would love to do that.  As this blog develops, I hope to attract more people to discussion of these issues and other great ideas that relate to nursing. This week, I’ll simply address with a few comments the element of orientation that underlies my current experience in nursing: induction.

As I understand it, induction assumes an existing system within an environment. It also assumes a point of entry into that system from the outside. In terms of nursing community, this arrangement is reflected in the incorporation of new members into the existing nursing unit. This generally takes place through the process known as orientation.

As I noted last week, the issue of induction is akin to the timeless question of the nature and meaning of education. For an existing community to survive the influx of new members, there must be something to which new members conform or to which they are socialized. The complex nature of human life precludes the establishment of a homogeneous human community. Because of this, there is a virtually no possibility that new community members will successfully adopt the way of life of the community.

Thus, we humans have no choice but to approximate each other’s ways with enough common features to foster the cohesiveness we need to survive. If this is true, then the induction that is nursing orientation may be viewed as a means of bringing previously distant individuals into a stable close proximity with a network of individuals who share important common factors. (Remember the definition of community I mentioned?)

This in itself raises important questions about the meaning of nursing as a human endeavor. Answering these questions calls for deeper consideration of nursing as well as more voices in the conversation. Will you join me?

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