Self-Care as a Pedagogical Ontology in the Professional Care Practice of Others and with Others: A Hermeneutic Phenomenology of Self-Care in Nursing Education
Docherty-Skippen, Susan Maureen
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Healthcare practitioners work in reciprocally dynamic roles in which their health and well-being directly impact their professional competence. This interplay is often understated in ways that regulatory colleges influence training and education programs. In Ontario, for example, we see this in nursing. Although the College of Nurses of Ontario stipulates nursing professional competencies, it does not provide explicit performance expectations related to nursing self-care (i.e., the intentional way one takes care of one’s self). Accordingly, not all Ontario nursing education programs teach self-care. Different from research that deliberates nursing as a discipline or body of knowledge, this research examined how self-care is articulated, prioritized, taught, and assessed in nursing education. As such, the scholarly contribution it offers in the context of education is a pedagogy supporting self-care as a professional competency. Eight nursing faculty shared their lived experiences (through one-on-one interviews) surrounding the notion and phenomenon of self-care in nursing. Through a reiterative hermeneutic interchange that focused on whose voice is missing, an art-informed method that paralleled knowledge creation metaphorically according to the depth and breadth of “delving beneath the surface,” transformed participants spoken words into interpretive texts. Study conclusions suggest that self-care in nursing may be understood and taught through emotionally engaged self-reflection, not as a prescribed set of behaviours or individual task-based activities, but instead, as a pedagogical ontology in the professional care practice of others and with others. To foster successful self-care practice in nursing, educators should consider using arts-based methods to help learners enter and navigate spaces for emotionally engaged self-reflection. Given the urgent need for innovative and rigorous curriculum to support successful self-care practices as part of a healthcare practitioner’s professional role, this research is both timely and relevant.