2. Teaching the Ethics of Caring: Using Nursing History to Integrate Race Consciousness into Professional Values
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15 2 Teaching the Ethics of Caring: Using Nursing History to Integrate Race Consciousness into Professional Values Melissa Garno and Carole Bennett On a university campus, a nursing professor is leading a discussion of professional ethics with a class of undergraduate nursing students. In another town, a similar nursing class is exploring nursing history in relation to the evolution of professional ethical standards in place today. The learning outcome for both educational activities is the same: to promote student integration of nursing’s ethical standards into their professional identity and value system. However, the two strategies being used to achieve that outcome are vastly different. The class exploring nursing history is using professional narrative and critical analysis of past events to make connections to the present and future. This critical study of history helps students internalize their learning and further develop their professional identity. Nursing is universally defined as a caring profession. Nursing programs include the development of caring professional values within their learning outcomes. Using nursing history to help students achieve these outcomes is a purposeful and effective teaching and learning strategy. Through exploring nursing’s past, especially in relation to race and social injustice, students begin to define their beliefs toward patient care and develop an identity of who they are going to be as future nurses. The social injustices of the past illustrate how nurses have been pioneers in caring for patients from all walks of life, even in the era of the segregated South. Studying the path of nursing education in the southern United States over the last two centuries provides a foundation for students to understand the social climate and events that have shaped the profession. 16 | Garno and Bennett This chapter provides support for the study of history, or historiography, as a scholarly teaching method. Presented here are three stories from regional nursing history that have been used in the classroom, along with student reactions and outcomes of the teaching strategy as recorded by the authors. The chapter illustrates how historiography helps students gain awareness of their own beliefs, critically challenge the stories they have heard, and explore how they can integrate this learning into their roles as professional nurses. Why Study History in Nursing? Some educators have questioned the merit of performing historical scholarship. The relative scarcity of professional organizations, publications, and courses devoted to nursing history suggests that scholars do not place a high priority on history in professional education (Holme, 2015). But history does matter. For nearly a century, professional organizations and educators have endorsed including history in nursing curricula for two compelling reasons: to develop critical thinking skills and to provide students with a sense of identity (Holme, 2015; Madsen, 2008; Lewenson, 2004; American Association for the History of Nursing [AAHN], 2001; Lait, 2000; American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 1999; Woolley, 1997; Lynaugh, 1996; Kalisch & Kalisch, 1976; Committee on Education of the National League of Nursing Education [NLN], 1917). The American Association for the History of Nursing explains that history not only promotes the development of critical thinking skills but also contributes to professional identity. As students uncover the roots of their professional past and question historical events, they develop a socially “contextual perspective” and “enlightenment” (AAHN, 2001, p. 1). Students develop a sense of pride in nursing as they learn about its history, and they develop an appreciation of the past through scholarly inquiry. As students engage with the stories through scholarly activities, history becomes more understood, more meaningful, and more foundational in developing one’s professional values. From a broad perspective, the study of history is grounded in the fact that we have a historical consciousness and a concept of past, present, and future. If we lose our history, we “suffer the loss of our memories, we lose our past and a part of ourselves” (Woolley, 1997, p. 4). Including history in professional education provides an avenue to develop essential critical thinking skills that nurses are expected to use in their practice . An academic study of history does not provide answers as much as it raises more questions. As Fairman and D’Antonio (2013) note, a study of the past “exposes historical tensions reflected in modern policy debates” (p. 346). Exploring the history of their chosen profession helps students understand how the past has shaped the present. It can be further argued that the study of history is relevant in the health professions in a sociopolitical context. Health care is as much influenced by politics and...


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