It’s Canadian Nursing Week and York has two great reasons to celebrate

It’s Canadian Nursing Week across the country and York has two reasons to celebrate – York nursing Professor Mary Fox has been awarded the Dorothy M. Pringle Award for Excellence in Research and a book co-edited by York nursing Professor Nancy Johnston, was named Book of the Year in the field of nursing research. Canadian Nursing Week runs from May 12 to 18.

Right: Mary Fox

Fox received the Dorothy M. Pringle Award on April 30 from the Sigma Theta Tau International, Lambda Pi-At-Large Chapter, School of Nursing, Ryerson University and Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto – an honour society of nursing. The award was presented by Dorothy Pringle, a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. Fox, who completed a CIHR Health Professional training fellowship at U of T before joining York, was honoured for her contribution and leadership to the nursing profession, particularly in the area of research with older adults. Her research involves examining the reasons for and the effects of bed rest and how it can lead to functional decline in older adults.

"I am honoured to be recognized by my peers and to receive such a prestigious award," says Fox. "The ultimate goal of my program of research is to develop and evaluate the efficacy of a multi-component intervention aimed at preventing the onset of bed rest dependency in older adults with Complex Chronic Disease." Fox hopes to identify the organizational structures and care processes restricting mobility, as well as develop and evaluate strategies to address the factors restricting mobility.

She is particularly interested in symptom management strategies for older adults with Complex Chronic Disease, a condition in which an individual has multiple chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and neurological disorders. Together, the illnesses and their treatments can impact negatively on each other to produce symptoms that tax individual and caregiver management strategies, and may foster bed rest dependency. Fox received $48,000 in CIHR funding in 2007 to revise several self-report scales measuring symptoms so that older adults can understand them.

Left: Nancy Johnston

For Johnston, a professor in the School of Nursing in York’s Faculty of Health, helping caregivers to remain emotionally engaged with patients was the impetus for her book, Meaning in Suffering: Caring Practices in the Health Professions (University of Wisconsin Press, 2007). The book is a collection of six essays exploring the many facets of suffering and how it affects patients, families and health-care professionals.

"The idea for the book arose in the context of considering that health-care professionals are so often called to witness suffering. Engaging with individuals and families who are facing extreme crises, however, takes enormous skill and courage," says Johnston. "While advances in our programs of education have been made, we are still not doing enough to enable health-care professionals to remain emotionally present and engaged with people who are experiencing profound suffering."

Meaning in Suffering: Caring Practices in the Health Professions, chosen as American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year in the area of research, was selected for it’s ability to enhance nurses’ understanding of research and its application to practice. Written primarily for health-care professionals, it calls on health-care professionals to strengthen their capacity to remain fully present for individuals and their families during times of loss.

Drawing on studies utilizing a variety of interpretive phenomenological research methods, the volume presents the many voices of suffering and the ways in which meaning is reconstructed. "Challenging health-care professionals to remain open to the possibilities that arrive with suffering, the research reveals the intersubjective processes that accompany the atttentive and skillful cocreation of meaning," says Johnston.

Johnston’s interests and research relate to how people construct meaning and become resilient in situations of extreme suffering as well as the personal, professional social healing practices that can be engaged to promote well-being, reduce risk, enhance resilience and restore meaning.

Founded in 1900, the American Journal of Nursing is the oldest and largest circulating nursing journal in the world, reaching over 300,000 readers around the globe. The journal has been publishing an annual list of the very best in nursing books since 1969. Its Book of the Year program recognizes excellence in 15 categories ranging from maternal-child nursing/childbirthing to gerontological nursing.