International Association for Human Caring Conference 2012: Part II

On the second day of the conference, the key note speaker was Dr. Sigridur Halldorsdottir. My knowledge of Dr. Halldorsdottir’s work was that it is based in caring, but I found myself truly appreciative of the amazing work she has done to define what caring is. Her Speech was entitled,  Caring or Uncaring: What nursing is and what it is not- Revisited. Those of you familiar with Florence Nightingale’s work will recognize the idea of “what nursing is and is not”.

Sigridur provided us with a model that stated that love is the essence of caring. Caring is supported by the nurse’s courage, wisdom, authenticity, generosity of heart, and self knowledge. Patients can sense when caring is genuine and hospitals need to value caring to support nurses in their work.

Dr. Halldorsdottir also listed 9 competencies for caring. The competencies include caring in the sense of the existential, real caring, the ability to educate, ethical approaches, cultural competence, interpersonal communication, education, empowerment, and self development.The idea of being able to align caring with specific competencies demonstrates the advances we are making in developing a caring science of nursing. The downside which cannot be ignored is that if a caring nurse is placed in an uncaring environment, she will most likely leave that environment. This could be part of the body of evidence as to why so many nurses leave the profession.

It is difficult to capture here the essence of Dr. Halldorsdottir’s caring presence as she presented these ideas; she threaded some healing pictures from her homeland of Iceland throughout the presentation, but I was honored to be able to experience her heartfelt wisdom.

4 thoughts on “International Association for Human Caring Conference 2012: Part II

  1. Carey, It sounds like you gleaned some substantial and exciting information and experience from the Caring Conference and are preparing it all for upcoming lectures~ what I find truly sad is that we actually have to plot Caring out in some scientific algorithm to PROVE that it is worlthy and has a value…in order to measure the heck out of it~ minimizing it down to something to be measured instead of felt. (though I understand why, in light of how we gain acceptance and credit for what we do as nurses)
    I also agree with your statement that, “The downside which cannot be ignored is that if a caring nurse is placed in an uncaring environment, she will most likely leave that environment. This could be part of the body of evidence as to why so many nurses leave the profession.”
    I look forward to more of your thoughts and experiences from the conference.
    God Bless,


  2. Thank you Bobbi. You are right that there is the issue of having to legitamize and measure caring in order to fit it into the larger “evidence based” paradigm. Interestingly, people in the whole wide world seem to recognize the feeling amd experience of love as legitmate and real, and yet in the clinical world, caring (which stems from love) and understanding our inter-connectedness seem to be wholly under-valued.

    I would clarify as well that in Icelnad they use these caring competencies to evaluate students’ clinical conpetence! To me that is pretty exciting as it creates a way to support students in learning about caring, enacting caring, and experiencing caring versus uncaring ways to be as a nurse. When we move the lens toward caring as the primary clinical competence, we can begin to value and support the heart of nursing practice, versus just simply stating that we are caring.

    Does that sort of make sense? ;}

    As far as how to apply it, I may consider using these competencies in the clinical portion of community health in the future.

    In Peace,


    • Yes your comments make total sense. What type of curriculum does Iceland use in their nursing programs? They must have a holistic focus if they are evaluating caring as a clinical competence…hence providing ways their students can show caring in situations and teaching caring philosophies…I love that.
      I see this as a wonderful thing!! I think implementing the caring competencies into all of the programs would be fabulous! but of course change is slow so yes do it in the community health course.



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