The aim of this study is to reflect on situational ethics in qualitative research and on a researcher's embodied response to ethical dilemmas. Four narratives are presented. They are excerpts from field notes taken during an observational study on Norwegian public health nursing practice. The stories capture situational ethical challenges the author experienced during her research. The author's reflections on feelings of uncertainty, discomfort and responsibility, and Levinas' philosophy help to illuminate the ethical challenges faced. The study shows that the researcher always participates, to some degree, and is never merely a spectator making solely rational choices. Ethical challenges in field research cannot always be solved, yet must be acknowledged. Feelings of vulnerability are embodied responses that remind us of the primacy of ethics. More so, it is the primacy of ethics that gives rise to feelings of vulnerability and embodied responses.
Health care is under constant change creating new and demanding tasks for public health nurses. The curriculum for public health nursing students is controlled by governmental directives that decide the structure and content of their education. This paper analyses manifest and latent discourses in the curriculum, in order to reveal underlying governmental principles for how public health nurses should promote health and prevent diseases.
A critical discourse analysis of the Norwegian public health nursing curriculum was conducted.
The study indicates i) 'a competing biomedical and social-scientific knowledge-discourse', with biomedical knowledge dominating the content of the curriculum; ii) 'a paternalistic meta-discourse', referring to an underlying paternalistic ideology despite a clear focus on user participation; and iii) 'a hegemonic individual discourse'. Even though the curriculum stipulates that public health nurses should work at both an individual and a societal level, there is very little population focus in the text.
Recent political documents concerning public health nursing focus more on health promotion, however, this is not sufficiently explicit in the curriculum. The lack of emphasis on social scientific knowledge, and the blurred empowerment and population perspective in the curriculum, can lead to less emphasis on health promotion work in public health nursing education and practice. The curriculum should be revised in order to meet the recent governmental expectations.
This paper is concerned with aspects of responsibility in Norwegian public health nursing. Public health nursing is an expansive profession with diffuse boundaries. The Norwegian public health nurse does not perform 'hands on' nursing, but focuses on the prevention of illness, injury, or disability, and the promotion of health. What is the essence of ethical responsibility in public health nursing? The aim of this article is to explore the phenomenon based on the ethics of responsibility as reflected upon by the philosopher Emanuel Levinas (1906-1995). From an ethical point of view, responsibility is about our duty towards the Other, a duty we have not always chosen, are prepared for, or can fully explain; but it is nevertheless a demand we have to live with. Interviews with five experienced Norwegian nurses provide the empirical base for reflection and interpretation. The nurses share stories from their practice. In interpreting the nurses' stories, the following themes emerge: personal responsibility; boundaries; temporality; worry, fear, and uncertainty; and a sense of satisfaction. As the themes are developed further, it becomes apparent that, despite their diversity, they are all interrelated aspects of ethical responsibility. Responsibility for the Other cannot be avoided, ignored, or transferred. The nurses' responsibility is personal and infinite. Levinasian ethics can help nurses understand the importance of accepting that being a responsive carer can involve not only contentment in the predictable, but also the fear, worry, and uncertainty of the unpredictable.
In today's health care, new health reforms focus on market values and demands of efficiency influence health workers' professional practice. Norwegian public health nurses work mainly with healthy populations, but the children, families and young people they meet can be in vulnerable and even dependent situations. Strategies in coping with ethically challenging encounters can be important for the identity of the profession.
The aim of the study was to illuminate public health nurses' experiences of being in ethically charged encounters and to reflect upon how these experiences can influence their professional identity.
A purposive sample of 23 Norwegian public health nurses with experience ranging from 0.5 to 25 years narrated about their work-related experiences. The interviews were interpreted with a phenomenological hermeneutic method inspired by the philosophy of Paul Ricoeur.
Four themes were identified: feeling responsible, being committed, feeling confident and feeling inadequate. These experiences were related to both work and private life and involved an emotional commitment to the well-being of children, young people and families.
On the basis of the findings, it can be estimated that PHNs are committed to their work, and defending children's rights is a strong driving force. Responsibility for service users is a deciding factor that can overshadow institutional demands. It seems as if value conflicts mobilised courage which is essential in maintaining moral strength. This is in turn important for a strong professional identity and can have positive implications for the quality of public health nursing work.
A changing healthcare system affects the professional identity of nursing groups. Public health nursing has experienced challenges in balancing the paternalistic expert ideology and the empowerment participation ideology. A strong professional identity can legitimate nursing, and possibly influence the quality of nursing work. Narrations from practice can illuminate the nurses' theoretical and practical knowledge and help illustrate their collective professional identity.
To illuminate the meaning of public health nursing knowledge and professional identity in a continuously changing public health nursing practice.
A qualitative interview study with a purposeful sample of 23 Norwegian public health nurses was carried out. Data were analysed using phenomenological hermeneutics, a descriptive method inspired by Ricoeur's philosophy of interpretation.
Three themes emerged (i) Being a generalist: emphasising the need for generalised knowledge and using clinical judgement, (ii) Being one who empowers: focusing on resources and coping strategies, (iii) Being occupied with individual problem solving: focusing on?individuals with special needs, using standardised techniques and protocols, and lacking specialised knowledge.
Interpretation of the nurses' stories illuminated their need for generalised evidence-based knowledge, but also the importance of using sound clinical judgement in a diverse complex practice, where service users need encouragement, support and expert advice. Time pressures can limit the nurses' involvement. Many had an individual problem-focus more than a primary prevention focus, in contrast to governmental regulations stating that Norwegian public health nurses should focus on health promotion and primary prevention. Public health nurses have a broad generalised knowledge of their special target group giving them a 'specialist generalist' role. Clarification of this role, in relation to jurisdictional borders, can create a strong identity at a time when healthcare policy promotes economic values, professional neutrality and increased collaboration.
The objective of this study was to describe and analyze municipal decision-maker's views on public health nursing and to reflect upon and discuss the relevance of those views to the future of public health nursing in Norway.
This explorative qualitative study using face-to-face interviews is part of a larger project, comprising 5 studies, that explores perceptions of public health nursing.
A purposeful sample of 11 municipal decision-makers was selected for interview during 2006-2007 to reflect variation in community size and perspective.
Thematic content analysis of the transcribed interviews revealed 4 content categories: contribution, collaboration, challenges, and visibility. The decision-makers expressed satisfaction with the public health nursing services, showed concern about lack of visibility and clear boundaries, and some expressed irritation over lacking collaboration. The interviewees elaborated on their past experiences as the public health nurses coworkers, leaders, collaborators, and service users.
The respondents recognized public health nursing's contribution to public health but they lack sufficient knowledge of its content and tend to take services at local health clinics for granted. Dialogue between nurses and decision-makers is necessary in order to ensure updated evaluation and continued development of public health nursing services.
The first courses for public health nurses in Norway were held in the 1920s-1930s. In 1957, the Act regulating public health nursing was passed. Norwegian public health nurses have a primary role in promoting health and preventing illnesses. Their role has changed with a changing society. This article shows some of the challenges the nurses have faced. It focuses on collaboration, tasks, leadership and authority/status.
The study's intentions are exploratory. It looks into how the nurses experience their changing role.
A single case with an embedded design is the method chosen; the case is 'Changes in the role of the Norwegian public health nurse during the period 1984-2005'. Document analysis and interviews are sources of evidence.
The findings show that public health nurses' visibility seems to be an important issue. There are some divergences between relevant literature on the nurses' professional status and the views of the nurses in the study. Several other public health professionals have lost tasks and formal positions of authority.
The nurses interviewed still feel that they are a respected and trusted profession despite being less visible. A recent study among parents who frequent local clinics confirms their important role. Can the nurses' lack of visibility have undesired outcomes? A profession that is unassuming, not visible and that fights silent battles may have problems being heard when it tries to promote issues concerning family health. Further studies are indicated.