Nursing Science Quarterly, 15:3, July 2002
Jacqueline Fawcett, Contributing Editor
The Nurse Theorists:
21st-Century Updates—Jean Watson
Jacqueline Fawcett, RN; PhD; FAAN
Professor, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts–Boston This edited transcript of an interview with Jean Watson presents Watson’s recent thoughts about the current state of the discipline of nursing and the emergence of new perspectives; the contributions of her theory of human caring; and her other work on the advancement of the discipline of nursing, complementary and alternative therapies, nursing research, and nursing education.
Jean Watson had planned to write a book about an integrated curriculum for a baccalaureate curriculum in nursing. Instead, she developed a novel structure for basic nursing processes, which was published in the book Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring (Watson, 1979). The work presented in that book solved some of Watson’s conceptual and empirical problems about nursing and formed the foundation
for the science and art of human caring. Many years later,
Watson (1997) explained that her 1979 book was published
before there was any formal movement in nursing related to
nursing theory per se. It emerged from my quest to bring new meaning and dignity to the world of nursing and patient
care—care that seemed too limited in its scope at the time, largely defined by medicine’s paradigm and traditional biomedical science models. I felt a dissonance between nursing’s paradigm (yet to be defined as such) of caring-healing and
health, and medicine’s paradigm of diagnosis and treatment, and concentration on disease and pathology. (p. 49)
The theory of human caring evolved as Watson went on to
solve other conceptual problems, as well as philosophic problems about nursing. The theory, which was initially published in Watson’s (1985) book Nursing: Human Science and Human Care: A Theory of Nursing, focuses on the human component of caring and the moment-to-moment encounters between the one who is caring and the one who is being cared for, especially the caring activities performed by nurses as they interact with others. In 1996, Watson commented that the theory has continued to evolve “until this moment in history” (p. 141).
I first interviewed Jean Watson in February l989 in Denver,
Colorado. That interview is part of The Nurse Theorists: PorEditor’s Note: Any comments about this dialogue should be addressed to the Editor for possible inclusion in Letters to the Editor. For other information, contact Jacqueline Fawcett, RN, PhD,
FAAN, P.O. Box 1156, Waldoboro, ME 04572; phone: (207) 8327398; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Nursing Science Quarterly, Vol. 15 No. 3, July 2002, 214-219 © 2002 Sage Publications
traits of Excellence series of videotapes and compact disks
(Watson, 1989). This column presents the edited transcript of a telephone interview I conducted with Jean Watson on
March 13, 2000. Dr. Watson contributed additional comments to the transcript during the final editing in February 2002.
On the Discipline of Nursing
JF: What do you think about the current state of the discipline of nursing?
JW: I think the discipline of nursing has to be rethought. We need to clarify what we mean by discipline. Although the
disciplinary focus has become more distinct within the last
two decades through the maturing of nursing theory, further clarification is required. In terms of the nursing profession being informed by the discipline, I think we have a long way to go. I think, too, that we are still in the process of clarifying what is the nature of the disciplinary matrix of nursing science. For example, is caring knowledge a part
of the matrix of nursing knowledge?
At a deeper level, the term discipline also conveys a
sense of personal discipline, that is, the ontological and
spiritual development of nurses themselves, the...