An emancipatory study of contemporary nursing practice

Barbara Bennett Jacobs, University of Connecticut School of Nursing
Joyce S. Fontana, University of Connecticut School of Nursing
Maryanne Hidalgo Kehoe, University of Connecticut School of Nursing
Colette Matarese, University of Connecticut School of Nursing
Peggy L. Chinn, University of Connecticut School of Nursing

Document Type Article


Changes in health care facilities have created the necessity for individual nurses to change, eg, change jobs, pursue additional education, become independent entrepreneurs. There is a shortage of nurses that places stress on those who remain to care for an increasing number of persons with too few resources. The purposes of this study were to explore nurses' perceptions of the circumstances of their work lives and to describe the processes by which they can create change in these circumstances. The methodology was an emancipatory design combining tenets of critical inquiry and feminist research. The method used was a dialectical process of reflection and action (praxis). Three diverse groups of nurses met weekly over 6-10 weeks. Using the group process method, each group reflected on, discussed, and analyzed the phenomenon of practicing nursing today. The outcome of an emancipatory study is reflected in the power of the process. The group interaction increased awareness, promoted reflection on the status quo, and energized the groups to derive possible solutions to changing that status quo. It is not the solutions themselves that are as relevant as is the obvious cogency of the process to achieve individual and group emancipation. Six codifications reflected the themes that emerged and 5 processes for exploring untested feasibilities for change were identified. The participants perceived themselves more as subjects in their history than objects to be manipulated, capable of transforming a rather dismal situation of nursing practice into one that was critical, creative, and freer from constraints. The implication of this study is that nurses are encouraged to adopt and adapt this process of group interaction because of its demonstrated credibility to empower and validate the role that nurses have to derive and implement solutions to change their unsatisfactory status quo.