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Vantage point – the concept of 'self'

Nurse researcher Ada ter Maten urges a rethink of the concepts related to 'self' to ensure they have value and meaning.
Sense of self

As nurses we are familiar with the concept of self-care as defined by Orem (2001) and Henderson and Nite (1978) people have a need to care for themselves.

But when a disease or disability limits a persons independence, nurses could support the person to regain some control over their situation.

Today, new concepts are sprouting up in our nursing profession. These are: self-management (of patients with chronic illnesses), self-directed learning (of motivated students) and even self-directed work (of a team).

These new concepts urge us to rethink todays emphasis on self. Nursing, education and professional work starts with asking yourself: who is my patient? Who is my student? What has to be done?

We need to answer these questions so that we can coach patients, students and co-workers effectively.

Support focus

Coaches then have to combine these

...

As nurses we are familiar with the concept of ‘self-care’ as defined by Orem (2001) and Henderson and Nite (1978) – people have a need to care for themselves.

Sense of self
Picture: iStock

But when a disease or disability limits a person’s independence, nurses could support the person to regain some control over their situation.

Today, new concepts are sprouting up in our nursing profession. These are: self-management (of patients with chronic illnesses), self-directed learning (of motivated students) and even self-directed work (of a team). 

These new concepts urge us to rethink today’s emphasis on ‘self’. Nursing, education and professional work starts with asking yourself: who is my patient? Who is my student? What has to be done?

We need to answer these questions so that we can coach patients, students and co-workers effectively.

Support focus

Coaches then have to combine these answers with insights into their patients’, students’ and co-workers’ needs and priorities in life, study or work. Only then, can we focus our support to enable these individuals to live their lives well despite their illness.

We, as nurses, have to stay focused on asking ‘what are your needs’ instead of ‘do it yourself’, or even ‘do it by yourself’. The latter reflects a loneliness that does not fit well with nursing in practice, nursing education or nursing management.

Let’s start to rethink the concepts related to ‘self’ before they become empty and meaningless; the way we talk can change the way we think and also the way we work.

By doing so we will be able to understand how we can coach our patients, our students and our co-workers according to their needs.  And then, we can do it together. 

References

Henderson V, Nite G (1978) Principles and Practice of Nursing. Macmillan, New York NY.

Orem DE (2001) Nursing Concepts of Practice. Mosby, Maryland MO.

Staa AL, ter Maten-Speksnijder AJ, Mies L (2017) Self-management support for nurses. Houten: Bohn, Staffleu & van Loghum. Manuscript in preparation.


About the author

Ada ter MatenAda ter Maten is a nurse researcher at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands and a member of the Nursing Management editorial board

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