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.