October 31, 2020

Looking for a Deep Pluralism in Nursing

As long as there have been people, there have been disagreements as to the nature of reality. Each of us takes in a particular view of what is, and we tend to act accordingly. We may even call others to act according to our pictures of reality. One might say such diversity is woven into the fabric of society, but does it rise to the level of pluralism? Can it exist on a thoroughgoing level in nursing as well?

The idea of pluralism isn’t new in nursing scholarship, although I suspect most nurses have never even considered it. What do I mean by pluralism? According to Merriam-Webster, pluralism is “a state of society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, or social groups maintain and develop their traditional culture or special interest within the confines of a common civilization.”

This definition seems comprehensive, but I’d like to point out that there’s a bit more detail in the company’s definition in Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, published in 1967. That definition is identical to the one just stated, except that the groups in question “maintain an autonomous participation in and development of their traditional culture.” That may be an important distinction.

Taking a cue from the 1967 definition, I’m looking for a state of the profession of nursing in which members of diverse groups–including ethnic, racial, religious, social, and gender groups–maintain autonomy in their participation in and development of their own cultures and special interests within the larger profession.

Members of diverse groups within nursing are bound to agree on some issues and disagree on others that face the profession. In fact, each individual is in reality a member of multiple groups simultaneously. For example, each of us can be described along ethnic, racial, religious, social, and gender lines.

I’m a man in nursing with a blended racial background. I have a specific religious association and a variety of social connections and experiences. Sometimes, I wonder whether or not there is such a thing as a safe haven within nursing for any individual. After all, none of us can help but be capable of categorization.

Ultimately I’m looking for answers to the following questions, among others:

  1. Are there limits to diversity in the profession of nursing?
  2. What are those limits?
  3. Can those limits, if they exist, be modified?
  4. What conditions foster pluralism in nursing?
  5. What barriers to pluralism exist in nursing?

I look forward to exploring these issues with others here on Morning Vitals? Do you have any thoughts or immediate reactions related to these questions? Please add them in the comments section.

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