Bringing nursing back to its roots

by Elizabeth Smith

Nurses, professors and retired health professionals gathered in Reykjavik, Iceland, last week for an event centered on improving health care through alternative means. 
The first International Integrative Nursing Symposium, co-chaired by the founder and director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing,
Mary Jo Kreitzer, focused on creating relationships between healthcare professionals worldwide to teach each other about different integrative nursing methods.  
The three-day event hosted about 250 people and centered around teaching their style of caregiving, which proponents call a more holistic approach focused on using therapeutic remedies — like massages and aroma therapies — before turning to invasive treatments and drugs.
Kreitzer first considered hosting an international convention when a contributor to an integrative nursing book she was working on in 2013 suggested it. 
The co-author, an Icelandic nurse, suggested Iceland as the location because it serves as a geographical midpoint between the United States and Europe, Kreitzer said.
She said over the past 10 to 15 years nursing has become more intensive and invasive and less focused on patients’ needs and entire wellbeing.
“We need to focus more on the art of nursing,” Kreitzer said. “Instead of resorting to drugs or 
technology, we should think of the 10 other things we can do to help someone before administering a drug.”
Kreitzer said many of the topics the symposium focused on stemmed from the six principles of integrative nursing, including building relationships, focusing on environments and the wellbeing of caregivers and their patients. 
Nursing associate professor Karen Monsen attended the event for the opportunity to collaborate with people in other countries on how to better administer nursing care.
Discussing health and nursing topics with professionals from around the world gave her insight into healthcare in places outside the U.S., she said.
While nurses in the U.S. use some unique technologies, many countries have made greater advancements in the field of integrative nursing, said School of Nursing Dean Connie Delaney.
Countries like Germany and Turkey are trying treatments based on cultural practices to heal patients, Krietzer said.
Those integrative treatments teach patients how to manage chronic illness on their own, she said.
“The more we become invested in this model of nursing, the more it becomes important to engage people from different places in the conversation,” said nursing clinical assistant professor Deborah Ringdahl, who attended the conference. 
She said although nurses aren’t always regarded as leaders in caregiving, she said she believes the sentiment could change with the growth of 
integrative technology.
The next symposium will take place at the University of Arizona in 2017.