Pragmatic Children’s Nursing: Beware sacred cow crossing!

The history of nursing is one of people, like me I guess, who write about how they think nursing “should be” and then others either ignore or push the concepts up on to a pedestal. This might not be all that surprising. Nursing deals with the very stuff of life and death. It confronts us as nurses and the people we try to help with our own mortality and our frailties. So that it elicits passionate and morally stringent views is perhaps to be expected. Throw in there the emotive aspects of “our” children and the future of “our” humanity (as children are the next generation) and it is easy to see why the debate becomes hot, conflicted and occasionally downright offensive.

I am keen that Pragmatic Children’s Nursing charts a course that avoids the high seas of controversy and the doldrums of irrelevance. To do so I think requires us as a community of nurses, children and carers to build a craft able to take on the sea (to stretch the metaphor a bit further). We should test the sea worthiness of the vessel by research. Before we set out on a dangerous sea crossing we ought to test Pragmatic Children’s Nursing out in shallow waters. If it sinks it sinks that’s Ok at least we tried, and we could paddle ashore back to the boat workshop (promise to stop stretching this metaphor soon). Only by testing out the concepts in the water can we know if this is a theory that can help us or not.

Some experience children’s nurses say to me when I describe the theory. “ We do that already”. Which is great! The theory was designed using children’s nursing literature and on many years of practice, and of teaching, so that it reflects practice is wonderful. However, we cannot rely on this initial response. We must empirically test what is a theory designed not from direct empirical research but from an a prior exploration of the issues. To return to my stretched ocean ship metaphor. Just because the ship does well close to shore does not mean it will survive in the ocean! We should also consider Brunel’s iron ships which when first spied by sailors and passengers were seen as dangerous and impossible, but now traverse the world supplying us all with goods we take for granted. Pragmatic Children’s Nursing might seem to be a familiar friend or a strange new design,  but until we test it out we can’t know it is going to serve as a useful ship!


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