• “Who Are You From?”: Family Narratives and Family Nursing

    Dr. Martha Driessnack, Opening Keynote Address, IFNC13

    At IFNC13 in Pamplona, Spain, Dr. Martha Driessnack, Associate Professor of Nursing at the Oregon Health & Science University, offered a fascinating keynote titled “Who are you from?”: The importance of a family stories. During her presentation, she provided a compelling argument based on research, including genomic evidence, to support the positive influence family stories have on resilience and well being in children and older adults.

    Many of us recognize the power of family narratives, both for our patients and research participants, as well as ourselves. Oftentimes, these narratives have inspired our careers and trajectories. I’ve written about my family narratives and how these influence my work on my own blog. Other IFNA members have shared such narratives as well, such as this one from Janice Bell.

    In the interest of building relationships and fostering community among IFNA members, you are invited to share your own family story with an emphasis on how it has influenced you as a family nurse and informed your family nursing scholarship and practice.

    Your short personal family story will be posted on the IFNA blog as a regular feature. Below are some guidelines for writing and submitting your own narratives:

    • Narratives should be no more than 500 words.
    • Keep in mind that these are stories, so make them engaging. Don’t think of this as a journal article. Engage the reader.
    • Because these are personal stories of your family, be sure to have consent for publication from anyone mentioned in the narrative.
    • Submit your narratives here. Once your narrative is received and ready for posting, I’ll contact you via email for a photo to add to the post.


    Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing and a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD or read his blog.

    Janice M. Bell, RN, PhD, is an Associate Professor Emerita at the University of Calgary, co-chair of the IFNA Communications Committee, and Founding Editor of the Journal of Family Nursing. She co-developed the Illness Beliefs Model and focuses her scholarship on illness suffering, family healing, therapeutic conversations with families, family interventions in health care, and family intervention research. You can follow her on Twitter at @janicembell or read her blog.


    And to think that it started with IFNC13

    This post originally appeared on Joel Anderson’s blog.

    As an academic with a nine-month appointment, there is sometimes a perception that I have the summer off. And while I do have more flexibility in my schedule during the summer and can work at a more relaxed pace, I’m usually working most of the time. It’s the nature of scholarship; it doesn’t stop just because it’s summer.

    But summer does afford me the opportunity to take advantage of opportunities that might not fit within the confines of the academic year, particularly travel abroad. I’ve always enjoyed traveling abroad. I remember the excitement and awe on that first trip to France while in high school. So many things were new and different. As I’ve aged, formed a cadre of international colleagues and friends, and traveled more internationally, I now tend to focus more on the similarities across cultures rather than the differences. But I digress.

    My calendar had had IFNC13 in Pamplona marked in June 2017 for two years since leaving IFNC12 in Odense, Denmark, which I’ve written about here. It was an event I, and many others, had been looking forward to for quite some time. After a pre-conference workshop proposal put forth by my IFNA Communications Committee colleagues and I was accepted, planning for the trip could begin in earnest. My goal was to engage in the conference, visit friends and colleagues in the UK, and have a day or two for something touristy.

    First, I reached out to my colleague Siobhan O’Dwyer at the University of Exeter. She and I had already formed an ongoing research collaboration and I proposed stopping there either on my to or way back from Spain to connect and work. I knew that I wanted to visit friends in the UK who I had not seen in four years, so it would be feasible. Schedules and funding aligned and plans for a week as a visiting academic fellow were put into place. However, given the complexities of our schedules, there was a one-week gap between my time in Exeter and IFNC13. At first I thought I would spend that time vacationing. But then I casually mentioned these plans to my colleague Ingelin Testad at the University of Stavanger in Norway.

    “Come to Norway!” she said. Her center was having its annual regional conference the very week that was empty on my calendar. I could present at the conference and participate in an international research collaborative meeting bringing together scholars from the UK and Norway and, now, the US. It all just fell into place in the most brilliant fashion.

    There are worse things than to spend three weeks in Europe for work. Coming from the Appalachian mountains of Virginia and humble beginnings, I’m always cognizant of and grateful for the wonderful opportunities that my career affords me. In this instance, I was keenly aware of this. I recalled a career bucket list I had sketched out in 2012 after accepting my first faculty position at the University of Virginia. One of those items was to be an international visiting academic fellow, in the UK. Not only was that now happening, it was happening along with these other amazing opportunities. And the best part was that it was happening with fabulous colleagues and friends.

    My time in Exeter was brilliant and bookended with weekends at my friends’ home in Bristol. This was my fourth trip to the UK and it is increasingly feeling like a satellite home base. Norway was a country on my personal travel bucket list and it did not disappoint. Spain, too, was on that travel list and was another amazing experience, with IFNC13 the impetus behind the whole journey.

    What I like most about IFNA, having experienced the biennial conference now twice, is the level of genuine collegiality and respect for the work done by those in attendance. With roughly 30 countries represented from all corners of the globe, it truly lives up to its name. It was great to share the stage with my IFNA Communications Committee colleagues during our social media preconference workshop, as well as to be at the conference with my colleague Sue McLennon from the University of Tennessee. The conference was a fine close to a great scholarly adventure that expanded my work in the use of social media by persons with dementia and their families, as well as expanding my network of collaborators, colleagues, and friends. Additionally, the whole experience enriched my understanding of our world, filled my heart and mind with beautiful memories, and was just the “summer break” I needed.


    Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing and a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD or read his blog.

    IFNA Members Plant Seeds of Transformation

    The stated mission of IFNA is “to transform family health by:

    • Serving as a unifying force and voice for family nursing globally;
    • Sharing knowledge, practices, and skills to enhance and nurture family nursing practice; and,
    • Providing family nursing leadership through education, research, scholarship, socialization and collegial exchange on all aspects of family nursing

    The IFNA position statements on family nursing education and practice have been a valuable means of providing leadership and carrying out this mission. As well, several IFNA members have been reaching out to local health services to inform them about IFNA and family nursing in general. Three examples of these are Junko Honda in Japan, Maria do Ceu Barbieri-Figuerido in Portugal, and Wilma Schroeder in Canada.

    Wilma Schroeder recently had occasion to meet with the Program Manager of the Critical Care Program in her home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. This program has always valued families and in recent years has been actively working to engage families. Their “Cherry Blossom” strategy for promoting respectful environments for families at end-of-life has been widely adopted in ICUs and other nursing areas across the region, and they were delighted to share it with the global family nursing community. Please see the attachment to learn about this strategy, and how they are engaging families in critical care. As a result of this conversation, new connections have been forged and opportunities for family nursing education, socialization, and practice have been enhanced.

    These connections are the seeds of transformation, through which IFNA members are influencing health care systems to make family nursing the rule rather than the exception.


    Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing and a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD or read his blog.

    Honor a family nurse

    The following is a IFNA member post from Janet Deatrick, Chair of the IFNA Resource Advancement Committee.

    While nurse’s lives are oriented toward giving, they are not necessarily oriented toward giving their own money to philanthropic efforts. Because nurses are often providers for their families, and have many responsibilities to others, philanthropic giving is often set aside for older age or viewed as requiring an income level exceeding that of most nurses.  The Resource Advancement Committee recognizes that making monetary donations to an association may be a new, even strange, idea for some members, and we are committed to helping our members understand the importance of giving both to the association and family nursing.

    As an organization IFNA wants to provide ways that everyone can participate in philanthropic giving so we can generate funds to better support the research, practice, and education efforts of our members.  The Resource Advancement Committee (RAC) is comprised of members from across the globe – our purpose is to raise money for the association. To date fund raising has focused on seeking conference sponsorship, with funds supporting both the conference and the day-to-day operations of the association. It is through our conferences and fund raising that we generate the funds we need to sustain IFNA as an association. We could not exist on membership fees alone. The RAC also is working to increase the visibility of IFNA and family nursing both internally and externally.  Our current campaign, Honor a Family Nurse, is very important not only within IFNA to show our support for each other but also globally to show our support of family nurses.  Please consider donating to make our message clear to all of our constituencies.

    We have secured funding from diverse external sources for the conference. Now it is time to look to each other to give.  Honor a Family Nurse is designed for us to provide support for the association by recognizing the accomplishments of others. Honorees will be recognized at the conference and on the IFNA website. The Honor a Family Nurse program is a means of praising those among us (both IFNA members and non-members) whose accomplishments deserve to be recognized.  For a more detailed description of the program, a link to donate, and examples of the kinds of accomplishment participants might like to recognize, click here.

    Each submission is $100 (US dollars). To be listed in the final conference program as well as on the IFNA website, submissions must be received by May 1, 2017. After May 1, all honoree submissions received through the final day of the conference will be recognized on the IFNA website but not in the conference program.

    Many thanks for considering this and the impact it will make on a person, organization, and families.

    Janet Deatrick, PhD, RN, FAAN, is Chair of the IFNA Resource Advancement Committee and Professor Emerita of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. You can follow her on Twitter @JanetDeatrick.

    Suffering and Spirituality: The Path to Illness Healing

    The following is an IFNA member post by Lorraine Wright

    Today is the day!

    Yes, my new book “Suffering and Spirituality: The Path to Illness Healing” is to arrive at my door from my publisher any moment now. As all nursing authors know, re-reading and reflecting on what I wrote a few months ago invites a shyness and even a wish that I could do just one more draft, one more edit. Perhaps there is never a final draft for an author but rather just a ‘moment of stopping’ due to imposed deadlines. But I also had another curious reflection. Some pieces I know I could not write again. They came from a place of inspiration and intuition only availed to me at the moment of writing. So all I can say is that I gave all I had to this book at the time of writing so please eat the fish and spit out the bones.

    For those wanting a sneak peak of some of the ideas that I offered here’s a little excerpt.

    “I have had one recurring piece of feedback about my clinical work with families’ that has guided me in becoming more cognizant and appreciative of the spiritual dimension of therapeutic conversations with families. Colleagues and students alike have offered their unsolicited observations on the “spiritual” aspects of my clinical work for many years. One colleague suggested what he believed to be the most powerful aspect of my clinical work was what occurred between clients, family members, and myself—what he called the phenomena of “reverencing.” I pondered this observation for some time and reflected on the meaning of reverence. I have come to believe that “reverencing” is when there is a profound awe and respect, mingled with love, for the individuals seated in front of me. I often feel that same reverencing from clients and family members returned to me.

    In those moments of reverencing in clinical work, something very special happens between the nurse and the individual or family; it is something felt by all—a deep emotional connection. I know and have felt these moments in clinical work. During these times, I have witnessed the most profound changes in family members’ thinking, beliefs, behavior, illness experience, and, most importantly, in their suffering. In these instances, I have felt an emotion that seems to arise only when there is reverencing. This emotion I submit is pure love.

    But, what kind of love? The kind of love that I am referring to is love that opens space to the existence of another beside us in daily living (Maturana & Varela, 1992). But, what does it mean to “open space” to another? It means to be open to their particular ideas, opinions, or beliefs. And, here is the most important aspect, while suspending all judgment.

    As nurses, it means suspending all judgment about our patients’/families’ descriptions of their illness experience, their illness suffering, and their choices for illness healing/treatment options. It is what I prefer to call “curious compassion.”

    The more curious we are about a patient/family’s illness suffering, the more we can dissolve our own judgments and biases and practice in a space of curious compassion. It is in this space that opportunities can arise for healing, that loving interactions can flourish. This is the kind of love to strive for in one’s clinical practice with individuals/families.”

    If this little excerpt has made you curious to read more, you can access my book through the usual ways of Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, or directly with my publisher Now what will I do with myself till the book arrives?


    Lorraine Wright, RN, PhD, is Professor Emerita of Nursing at the University of Calgary and co-developer of the Illness Beliefs Model. Over the past 34 years, she has given presentations and workshops at national and international chronic illness, family health, family nursing, family therapy, oncology, palliative care, and spirituality and health conferences, universities, and hospitals. You can read her blog here or follow her on Twitter @drlorwright.

    Social media in #familynursing

    The current issue of the Journal of Family Nursing (JFN) has a special emphasis on social media in family nursing. I first learned of this special issue at the 12th International Family Nursing Conference in Odense, Denmark, when the IFNA Communications Committee presented a session on social media. The issue features an editorial by Janice M. Bell, the editor of JFN, as well as four articles on social media in family nursing.

    Janice’s editorial takes a deep dive into the technological advances that have occurred over the past decade, and how these advances, and the speed at which they have arrived, have had an impact on scholarship and family nursing. The editorial is followed by an article by Tracie Risling and colleagues on the creation of an assessment tool of social media use for family nurses to implement in practice to understand better the influence of social media on family health.

    The second article reports the findings of a study examining the use blogs by family caregivers of persons with dementia by my colleagues and me. Our article describes the themes identified when examining the blog posts of family caregivers during the caregiving experience and how the blogs played a role in the experience. The third article is by Wilma Schroeder, co-chair of the IFNA Communications Committee. Wilma’s article outlines strategies for the use of social media by family nurses themselves, and how social media can advance family nursing practice.

    The fourth and final article in the special emphasis on social media is by Wendy Looman and Kris Isaacson, members of the IFNA Communications Committee. Wendy and Kris write about building communities of practice via social media using the strategies of curating, connecting, collaborating, and contributing.

    So what’s next? Janice, Wilma, Wendy, and I are presenting a pre-conference workshop at the 13th International Family Nursing Conference in Pamplona, Spain, in June focusing on the ins and outs of using social media for family nursing scholars. If you are coming to IFNC13, we hope that you will join us!

    IFNC13 PreConference Social Media Toolkit 1

    Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing and a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD or read his blog.


    Growing communities of practice in family nursing and family focused health care

    This post originally appeared on February 17, 2017, on Dr. Janice M. Bell’s blog. It has been reposted with the author’s permission.

    There are a number of voices across several disciplines who are actively participating in the growing scholarly conversation about family focused health care in North America and beyond (Bell, 2017).

    In a Journal of Family Nursing Special Focus Issue on Social Media and Family Nursing, February 2017, Isaacson and Looman (2017) discuss a phenomenon known as “communities of practice” (CoP) where individuals are joined by relationships that share common practices and activities. An important distinction is that CoP are not a group per se but rather a social process whereby competence in a domain is negotiated over time within a community. “If a really important part of learning is the shaping of an identity, then one key implication for education is that you cannot give people knowledge without inviting them into an identity for which this knowledge represents a meaningful way of being.” (Farnsworth, Kleanthous, & Wenger-Trayner, 2016, p. 145).

    Here is my selected list of organizations and journals that offer opportunities to create CoP with an emphasis on family health and family healing:

    • International Family Nursing Association [IFNA]: Vision of IFNA: Nurses transforming health of families worldwide. Read more: Models for nursing practice with families;  IFNA Position Statement on Generalist Competencies for Family Nursing PracticeIFNA Position Statement on Pre-Licensure Family Nursing Education.
    • National Council of Family Relations [NCFR]: and the Families and Health Section of NCFR: NCFR’s mission is to provide an educational forum for family researchers, educators, and practitioners to share in the development and dissemination of knowledge about families and family relationships, establish professional standards, and work to promote family well-being.  NCFR has been the scholarly home of Family Sciences for many decades:  Family Sciences is a discipline that is best known in the United States. NCFR is an interdisciplinary organization with annual meetings and was the organizational home for family nursing scholars in North America over many years before IFNA began. NCFR has a Families & Health section: that is very active and was initially led by family nursing scholars in the US such as Shirley Hanson, Catherine Gilliss, Barbara Mandleco, Sharon Denham, etc.  I attended an annual NCFR meeting in Vancouver in 2015 and also attended the Family Health Section business meeting and the organization still felt very familiar with a wide variety of topics—all under the umbrella of advancing knowledge about families. Kit Chesla and I can tell you many joyful stories of years of meeting together at the annual NCFR meeting!
    • Collaborative Family Healthcare Association [CFHA]: CFHA promotes comprehensive and cost-effective models of healthcare delivery that integrate mind and body, individual and family, patients, providers and communities.
    • American Family Therapy Academy [AFTA] Vision of AFTA: AFTA envisions a just world by transforming social contexts that promote health, safety, and well-being of all families and communities.

    Scholarly journals that prioritize family focused health care include:

    Research has shown that an accumulation of expertise is one of the outcomes of participation in a CoP and that a baseline of domain knowledge is central to this growth (Nistor et al., 2016). Rolls, Hansen, Jackson, and Elliott (2016) recently conducted an integrative review of 72 studies about the use of social media by health care professionals and found that while health care professionals share domain knowledge and develop virtual communities, “tribal behaviors of clinicians” (p. 2) limited knowledge sharing. I believe family nursing scholars are well positioned to participate in CoP that involve interprofessional sharing about how to be helpful to families and promote family health.

    I’d like to encourage you to seek out interprofessional colleagues and organizations around the world who are promoting #familyheath and #familyhealing. Consider using social media as a way to develop relationships and networks with these people and resources to grow and extend CoP in family nursing and family focused care.


    Bell, J. M. (2017). Social media and family nursing scholars: Catching up with 2007 [Editorial]. Journal of Family Nursing, 23, 3-12. doi:10.1177/1074840717694524

    Farnsworth, V., Kleanthous, L., & Wenger-Trayner, E. (2016). Communities of practice as a social learning theory: A conversation with Etienne Wenger. British Journal of Educational Studies, 64(2), 139-160. doi: 10.1080/00071005.2015.1133799

    Isaacson, K., & Looman, W. (2017). Strategies for developing family nursing communities of practice. Journal of Family Nursing, 23, 73-89.  doi: 10.1177/1074840716689078

    Nistor, N., Baltes, B. Dascalu, M., Mihaila, D., Smeaton, G., & Trausan-matu, S. (2014). Participation in virtual academic communities of practice under the influence of technology acceptance and community factors: A learning analytics application. Computers in Human Behavior, 34, 339-344. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2013.10.051

    Novakovich, J., Miah, S., & Shaw, S. (2017). Designing curriculum to shape professional social media skills and identity in virtual communities of practice. Computers & Education, 104, 65-90. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2016.11.002

    Rolls, K., Hansen, M., Jackson, D., & Elliott, D. (2016). How health care professionals use social media to create virtual communities: An integrative review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 18, e166. doi: 10.2196/jmir.5312


    Janice M. Bell, PhD, RN, is Associate Professor Emeritus at the University of Calgary , co-chair of the IFNA Communications Committee, and Founding Editor of the Journal of Family Nursing. She co-developed the Illness Beliefs Model and focuses her scholarship on illness suffering, family healing, therapeutic conversations with families, family interventions in health care, and family intervention research. You can follow her on Twitter at @janicembell.

    Creating a Vision for Family Nursing Practice Around the World

    The following is a IFNA member blog post by Kathryn Anderson, Co-chair of the IFNA Practice Committee.

    Family Nursing in Action: Switzerland

    The IFNA Practice Committee has a mandate to, “Identify and disseminate the best practice knowledge and family nursing models used internationally”. While numerous publications about family nursing practice models and the usefulness of relational interventions for families exist, a clear Position Statement to guide family nursing practice was lacking.

    Between 2012-2015, the IFNA Practice Committee, consisting of approximately 14 members from 9 countries, crafted the first-ever IFNA Position Statement on Generalist Competencies for Family Nursing Practice which was approved by the IFNA Board of Directors and professionally prepared for distribution. This IFNA Position Statement was disseminated through the IFNA website and social media channels, letters to organizations and health care leaders (including educators), inclusion in poster and paper presentations, cited in scholarly publications, and shared through word of mouth communication. A companion IFNA Position Statement on Pre-Licensure Family Nursing Education was drafted by the IFNA Education Committee.  Both documents were welcomed with great enthusiasm.

    Building on this previous work, the IFNA Practice Committee is very pleased to announce the posting of a new groundbreaking IFNA Position Statement on Advanced Practice Competencies for Family Nursing (APC-FN) for public review and comment. This new Position Statement outlines the competencies for advanced practice family nurses to guide the care of families in all settings and provides a focus for nursing education, theory, and research related to advanced practice family nursing. The APC-FN are designed to serve as an operational framework to guide advanced practice care for families and individuals within families. They outline the family nursing knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values requisite for advanced practice family nurses to provide effective family nursing care, regardless of role or setting.

    This first of its kind, this document was developed over the past two years (2015-2017), and is a culmination of extensive discussions and draft revisions by the IFNA Practice Committee APC-FN sub-committee with ongoing input/feedback from the IFNA Practice Committee membership, invited input from several leading international advanced practice family nursing colleagues in 2016, and a final overall document editing by a family nursing scholar familiar with advanced practice.

    The document for your review as an IFNA member is available at: Please provide your feedback in written form using the Word tracking mechanism to submit your edits and comments for the Practice Committee APC-FN document consideration. The competency document will be available for your comments until March 27, 2017. Please submit your written edits and comments to Dr. Kathy Anderson (khanderson at georgiasouthern dot edu), Co-chair of the Practice Committee and Chair of the APC-FN subcommittee. The subcommittee will collate all edits for IFNA Practice Committee approval. The revised document will be submitted to the IFNA Board of Directors for final approval.

    Feedback from across our international community of IFNA members is urgently needed to ensure this document about APC-FN is culturally appropriate and extends nursing knowledge about advanced practice with families.


    Kathryn Hoehn Anderson, PhD, ARNP, PMHCNS-BC, LMFT, is Co-chair of the IFNA Practice Committee and Professor and Director of the Center for Nursing Scholarship & Research in the School of Nursing at Georgia Southern University.

    It takes a village

    Last week, my friend and collaborator Ruth Palan Lopez visited with Karen Rose (another friend and collaborator) and me here at the University of Tennessee. Ruth, Karen, and I have written together and worked on several different projects over the years as a trio and in pairs. It was great for all of us to spend time together, to show Ruth around Knoxville, and to do the work around family caregiving in dementia for which we each share a passion.

    Karen and I both met Ruth at meetings of the International Dementia Scholars Collaborative (IDSC), an informal research group that has been meeting and working together for the past sixteen years. Ruth and Karen met in 2009 when the group met at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro (my PhD alma mater). I then met Ruth after being invited to the IDSC meeting in 2011 at the University of Illinois-Chicago by Karen. Over the years through our time at IDSC meetings, conferences, weekend workshops, and get togethers, we’ve all become fast friends. This has made for some great conversations, lovely meals, and good scholarship.

    Karen and I recently wrote a list of tips for supporting team science in nursing research. While Ruth was here last week, we went through the list at one point, half jokingly, and found that we had indeed met all of the tips from our editorial in Research in Gerontological Nursing. This strategy has certainly served the three of us well in our collaborations with each other as well as our collaborations with others. In fact, the list forms the basic philosophy of IDSC, the group that brought us together.

    Get to know your team members. From all of our time spent together, Karen, Ruth, and I know our family members’ names, likes and dislikes, and share information about major life events, personally and professionally. While I realize that all research groups and teams are not going become actual friends, time spent together away from work, even if it’s for a cup of coffee or lunch, really helps you get to know those with whom you work closely on a project. This is essential because of the clear and honest dialogue that is needed for your work to be successful.

    Create and maintain an atmosphere that invites open communication. You really cannot get a lot accomplished if you cannot communicate freely. That’s not to say that you’re critical or cruel. But you can be direct. One of the great things about collaborating with Karen and Ruth is that, as the junior member of the team, I know that they have my back and that they will be truthful, letting me know if my reasoning is sound or if a manuscript needs more polish.

    Negotiate authorship of dissemination projects early and often. Several of the tasks we worked on last week involved manuscripts in preparation, either in pairs or all three of us. We had conversation about authorship, keeping in mind how these manuscripts would support future projects and scholarship goals.

    Share notes and team meeting minutes in ways that are easily accessible. We’ve been using sharable drives and folders for a while now and emails were constantly flying between us as we discussed different projects and located new resources. We made time to make notes of our daily accomplishments so that, at the end of the week, we knew our next steps.

    Establish a shared decision making standard. For Karen, Ruth, and I, our decision making is mostly by consensus.

    Make time to maintain the high function of your team. We take breaks when we need to do so. We carve out time to work as a group, in pairs, and individually, which maximizes our group efforts.

    Meet in person as often as possible. It’s hard these days to find time to meet in person with our busy schedules. But, wow, do we get so much accomplished when we do! Last week, we worked on several manuscripts, grant applications, and research protocols at various stages. It’s energizing when we can get together and work in the same room, and I think that has a synergistic effect on our productivity.

    Anticipate conflict. Conflict really didn’t arise last week. We talk through different ways of approaching things, which will hopefully keep conflict at bay.

    Include students and other learners in meaningful ways. Each of us had meetings with students and mentees last week, again as a group or individually. Our philosophy is such that we want to be collaborative and supportive of all with whom we work. We purposefully make ourselves available for that.

    Celebrate. We’re really good at this! We made sure we had plenty of time for good food, good drinks, and good conversation. We also acknowledged individual accomplishments and caught up on everything that’s been happening since we saw each other at a conference in November.

    None of us can do it all. And in academia, it’s easy to get stressed out and discouraged. Having a great collaborative team is inspiring and encouraging and, well, a lot of fun. I always look forward to time with Karen and Ruth, as well as the other teams of which I am a member. It feeds that passion for family-focused research.


    Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing and a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD.


    IFNA Awards

    The International Family Nursing Association Awards recognize and celebrate IFNA members who provide outstanding contributions to transform health for families worldwide and advance the nursing of families. Seven awards in 4 categories will be presented to chosen recipients at the 13th International Family Nursing Conference in Pamplona, Spain in June 2017. The IFNA Awards Committee, chaired by Dr. Norma Krumwiede, with members from 5 countries, oversees the development and selection process of these awards.

    One of the recipients of the IFNA Excellence in Family Nursing Award in 2015 was Dr. Nancy Moules from the University of Calgary. A professor in the Faculty of Nursing, Dr. Moules also holds the Kids Cancer Care Foundation Chair in Child and Family Cancer Care. She is the editor of the Journal of Applied Hermeneutics and co-founder of the Canadian Hermeneutic Institute. Her research areas are hermeneutics, pediatric oncology, grief, and family. Dr. Moules is a Psychosocial Oncology Research Training mentor and a member of the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology and the Children’s Oncology Group.  She has received teaching excellence awards, including the University of Calgary Teaching Excellence in Graduate Supervision, and two CARNA Research Excellence awards (Research 2011; Education, 2015). In 2012, she was the recipient of the CNA Order of Merit for Nursing Education and the CASN 2015 Excellence in Nursing Education. She held a Killam Annual Professorship from 2012–2013 and was admitted to the Order of the University of Calgary in 2013.

    Dr. Moules describes her experience in receiving the IFNA Excellence in Family Nursing Award as follows:

    MoulesIn 2015, I received one of the IFNA Excellence in Family Nursing Awards, following being nominated by Dr. Lorraine Wright. It was such an honor to be nominated, and then to be recognized by IFNA as having made a contribution to family nursing. To stand in the presence of the other award winners in Odense, Denmark was a very humbling experience that marked my career as one of the most memorable events that acknowledged my scholarship, achievements, and most importantly how I may have made a difference to families in their suffering with illness, in my case with childhood cancer. This award was recognized by my home academic institution and was announced within my Faculty as well as across the University. Often the work we do goes unnoticed, and we do not do it for notoriety – – we do it for families. However, when a peer, or in my case, when an leader in family nursing and a former teacher and mentor takes the time to articulate their perception of another’s work, it is very meaningful and gratifying. I believe that we need to notice and celebrate each other, to award the work we often do quietly, and to bring it to the attention of others. I am most grateful for receiving this award and to be even regarded in the company of the other nominees and award recipients. Thank you IFNA (and Dr. Loraine Wright!).

    The IFNA Awards initiative continues a tradition of honoring outstanding colleagues in our family nursing community. The Journal of Family Nursing (Dr. Janice M. Bell, Founding Editor) first conceived of these family nursing awards in 2005. Between 2005–2011, 37 colleagues in our family nursing community were honored for their distinguished and innovative contributions that advanced the nursing of families in the world [Read more].

    To nominate a colleague for one of the IFNA Awards, you may find more information here. The deadline for nominations is January 30, 2017.


    Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing and a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD.

    “I see and I remember. I do and I understand”: YouTube and family nursing

    When I searched the term “YouTube” on PubMed this afternoon, I wasn’t sure what I would find. I got 659 search results. While I recognize the impact and pervasiveness of YouTube in everyday life, I must admit that I was surprised that the number was so high. Among the first 20 items, there were a few that caught my eye.

    The first was a study that reviewed YouTube videos demonstrating femoral artery puncture and sheath placement, finding that most were not posted by vascular surgeons. Another study examined disparities in online health information accessibility compared across levels of eHealth literacy. African Americans with lower levels of eHealth literacy trusted health information from YouTube and Twitter more compared with those who had higher levels of eHealth literacy. A third paper reported the results of a study evaluating the use of social media, specifically a YouTube channel, to target education to patients with cancer in South Korea. Another article reported YouTube as the most popular social media platform for sharing information among medical students in Saudi Arabia. And search result #659? That one was about nurses in the United Kingdom (Wales, specifically) using video clips posted to YouTube to provide patient education related to influenza, asthma, cervical cancer screening, and self-monitoring of blood glucose.

    Each of these articles illustrates the power of this platform, which was created in 2005. What gave me pause was not only the volume of articles, but also the breadth of topics. Though I often will say to people that if they want to learn how to do something easily that they should look it up on YouTube, even I was taken aback a little by the thought of providers learning how to perform femoral artery punctures from a YouTube video. However, as can be seen from the study of the medical students in Saudi Arabia, YouTube may be their first stop for information on a variety of topics, including their education. And given that YouTube is now 12 years old, we are essentially in a world of college and university students who have grown up with this resource. As can be seen from the project in South Korea, YouTube does lend itself to patient education very easily and effectively. And, importantly, the platform seems to cross health literacy barriers, as evidenced by the second study.

    What really intrigued me was the oldest search result, #659. It was an article from 2007 and it was about nurses. Just two years after the launch of YouTube, nurses were using this new technology effectively to aid patients because they saw the power in its utility. This didn’t surprise me at all, and it was almost as if I had planned it. What initially was to be a blog post to promote the IFNA YouTube channel (and, by the way, it still is) became a post about not only the power of YouTube in health care practice, education, and research, but also a reminder of the innovative spirit of nursing to use each and every tool in the arsenal to empower patients and families to optimize their health and wellbeing.

    The February issue of the Journal of Family Nursing has a focus on social media and the ways in which these platforms can support and advance family nursing research, education, and practice. YouTube, including the IFNA YouTube channel, is one way in which this can take shape. It’s gratifying to know that nurses have been using YouTube almost from its beginning to have a positive impact in the lives of patients and families.


    Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing and a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD.

    Family-focused care across the life course

    This post originally appeared on November 9, 2016, on Simon Stones’ blog. It has been reposted with the author’s permission.

    Learning to live with a long-term condition in adulthood can be challenging. From the uncertainty at diagnosis, to new treatments and different ways of living–it’s a rollercoaster of a journey–physically and emotionally. For a child, this journey can be even more turbulent, in addition to the existing challenges facing the youngest generation in society. For the parents and carers of these children, this journey can be equally difficult, demanding more of their time, energy and emotions as they do their very best to support their precious child.

    The care of people with long term conditions is a key health policy priority, given that long-term conditions account for approximately 70% of health and social care spending. In a growing and ageing population, improvements in service quality, efficiency and cost will increasingly present challenges for both people with long-term conditions, and healthcare providers.

    Evidence suggests that long-term conditions in early life can affect an individuals’ health and wellbeing across the life course. In England alone, there are around 15 million people living with one or more long-term conditions – that’s a quarter of population in England. Then, you need to take into consideration family members who may contribute to the care of a relative living with a long-term condition. One person’s long-term condition can impact on the health and wellbeing of the entire family. It’s evident that family relationships may have health promoting effects; yet, the health and social care environment in the United Kingdom doesn’t reflect this family-focused approach, failing to acknowledge the real world reality of living with a long-term condition.

    In 2013, the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, urged healthcare professionals to think ‘family at every interaction‘, in order to centralise family health and wellbeing to multi-professional practice. To do this, innovative tools to support this approach are needed. Little is known about how health and social care professionals in the United Kingdom (UK) understand family support, how family life, family health and social care intersect, or what tools and interventions exist to support and promote family-focused care for individuals and familiesliving with long-term conditions. From these findings, an international White Rose collaboration evolved, between the Universities of LeedsSheffield and York.


    I was thrilled to be part of an exciting workshop held on Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th November, which was planned as part of this collaborative project to explore and discuss family-focused care across the life course in the UK. Led by Professor Veronica Swallow and Professor Angela Tod, and co-ordinated by Dr Joanna Smith, the workshop brought together researchers and lay representatives to explore the most recent evidence around family-focused care, in order to identify an action plan to drive future research in family health.

    The two day workshop, held in the charming Devonshire Hall, began with a welcome to the University of Leeds from Professor Andrea Nelson, Head of the School of Healthcare and Deputy Dean for the Faculty of Medicine and Health. Professor Swallow and Professor Tod then set the scene of family-focused care from political, practical and policy perspectives. We were also extremely fortunate to be joined by four international experts: Professor Linda ShieldsProfessor Kathy KnaflProfessor Marcia van Riper and Dr Birte Østergaard. They shared their invaluable experiences, and enriched the discussions throughout the workshop.


    Professor Linda Shields shared findings from a 2012 Cochrane systematic review update on family-centred care of hospitalised children, aged 0 to 12. Professor Shields and co-authors of this update concluded that there is limited, moderate-quality evidence that suggests some benefit of a family-centred care intervention for children’s clinical care, parental satisfaction, and costs. However, this assumption is based on a small dataset. They also highlighted the absence of high-quality quantitative research about the effects of family-centred care. From this review, the need for further rigorous research on the use of family-centred care as a model for care delivery to children and families in hospitals was highlighted, with the caveat of including a wide range of outcomes for children, parents, staff and health services.

    Dr Jo Smith then provided a summary of steps taken to develop a systematic review protocol to understand the family-focused care landscape in the UK. Dr Smith and the project team in their preparation for conducting the review noted that, despite arriving at a similar long-term outcome, the views and experiences of health professionals, children and their families diverge, each taking a different path throughout the journey of life with a long-term condition. Also, in health and social care, we often ‘forget’ about the carers, who help to look after those with long-term conditions. To the surprise of many, 1 in 4 millennials are carers – so a very young population of people are caring for others in a formal or informal carer role. Thinking about these individuals in the context of family-focused care, who then cares for the carers?

    “Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are people reaching young adulthood around the year 2000.”

    We keep referring to family in the context of human society – as the people affiliated to individuals either by consanguinity, affinity, co-residence or a combination of these relationships. Stereotyping the family unit in this way means that we make assumptions about the meaning of family. Whilst we think of it in this context, it’s highly important to recognise that family isn’t a static definition when focusing on family-centred care – rather, it is a fluid construct. The definition of family-centred care has also be questioned, as some believe that it sets parents and carers at the centre of the child’s long-term condition. Bernie Carter has suggested that the term child-centred care is used, to embrace the concept that children and their interests need to be at the centre of our thinking and our practice. This approach lends itself to the increasing drive for personalised healthcare, because one size does not fit all.Interest in personalised medicine, from a clinical perspective, is gaining momentum – such as in the field of immuno-oncology. However, personalised medicine from a sociological and health delivery perspective is lagging behind. The conceptual and methodological issues associated with this arena of research are, in part, responsible for this delay in application to practice, as well as the political framework which restricts fluid and adaptive processes in health and social care.

    “Family-focused care is an approach to care delivery, whereby health professionals respect and respond to the needs of the patient and their family as a complete unit, recognising the family role in supporting and being involved in care.” A working definition of family-focused care, embracing the concepts of family-centred and child-centred care.


    Building on the first sessions of the workshop, Professor Kathy Knafl and Professor Marcia van Riper went on to discuss concepts, implementation and evaluation of family-focused care, by sharing ten top tips and useful resources for family researchers. First and foremost, it is essential to make a compelling case for taking a family focus – taking into consideration expected outcomes, funding priorities and the added value of embedding the family perspective into research. In order to do this, you must do your homework! Professor Knafl emphasised the importance of conducting a scoping review to map the territory. In doing so, you will identify key characteristics of the existing literature, and you will identify some of the gaps which warrant further investigation. From here, it is good practice to clarify and align your family focus, by defining and positioning ‘family’. From there, you must determine your measurement unit, and its appropriateness. Using the 4Ws framework will help this stage of your thinking, by identifying who is your target population, what variables you wish to assess, when you will collect data, and where you will collect data – which shouldn’t be inconvenient to individuals and families participating in research. When you reach the analysis phase of research, it is desirable to adapt your analysis to family data, particularly when multiple family members are involved. There are a number of family-friendly analytic approaches, such as the Actor-Partner interdependence model and cluster analysis. Finally, it’s important to remember that family research is a team endeavour, with input from non-family researchers, to build clarity and transferability of the research outcomes to influence practice. Dr Berte Østergaard helped to visualise these models of family-focused care by sharing her experience of developing family cardiology nursing in Denmark. She highlighted the Calgary Family Assessment and Intervention Model, recognised by the International Council of Nurses as one of the four leading family assessment and intervention models in the world. It has been translated into eight languages, and is used in over 25 countries around the world.


    Looking forward, as patients, carers, researchers and healthcare professionals, we must use clear strategies to embed individuals and families into everything that we do. Professors Knafl and van Riper presented some common measures of family functioning. However, they emphasised that researchers must critically question their decisions – by asking themselves whether selected measures have been appropriately developed for the ages and circumstances of individuals and families involved in a given research study. Taking this into consideration, it isn’t difficult to believe that in a review exercise, over 700 different outcome measures were identified in relation to family-focused care! Whilst it’s okay to use different measures in different circumstances, it is important for researchers to have a common ground – where some core measures are shared. This comes back to the silo mentality of research and clinical disciplines. Now, we should try to look at things a little differently. For example, look at how different conditions and approaches are similar – such as grouping conditions by shared characteristics, whether they be progressive conditions or relapse-remission conditions. In addition, we must begin to incorporate health economic analyses into ongoing research endeavours, to identify whether interventions are cost-effective, both in the short- and long-term, to children, their families and the National Health Service alike.


    Based on discussions throughout the morning workshop, we developed five key areas to discuss in sub-groups:

    1. Making sense of the evidence base for family-focused care;
    2. Identifying the components of good outcome measures;
    3. Using patient experience to inform practice;
    4. Defining family and measures to maintain contextual flexibility;
    5. Teasing out the assumptions about family-focused care.

    During sub-group discussions, we delved deeper into our experiences and understanding of family-focused care, based upon personal and representative experiences of using health and social care as patients and carers, and delivering health and social care of health professionals. I joined sub-group three, and there certainly wasn’t any time for an awkward silence! Rich and diverse experiences (positive and negative) were shared. Notably, we wanted to better identify how experiences change across the life course – as people age, as their health changes, as their skill set changes, and as their personal, social and professional lives change. Sometimes, as a patient, you may feel that healthcare professionals don’t take notice of your concerns. Their priority may appear to be clinically-focused – for example, reducing disease activity. However, your priority may be about finding the energy for you to be able to go to work and have a social life outside of working. This imbalance in addressing priorities can escalate, whereby patients lose trust in their healthcare professional, and communications can begin to break-down.

    “As a patient, I feel as though I’m expected to fit within a pre-defined box. I’m a patient with x disease in one clinic, and a patient with y disease in the second clinic. What happened to me being a person – with thoughts, feelings and emotions? I shouldn’t be labelled simply by the disease of which I have to live with.”

    As discussions progressed, it became evidently clear that the fragmented health and social care services is negatively impacting patient and family experience. From disjointed communication, to service delivery constraints, we were left with the unanswered question of ‘Whose time matters?’


    With so much to do, it is clear that we’ve got a long way to go until we develop family-focused care which is not only efficacious, but is also realistic, practical, personalised and cost-effective. As we move forward in developing family-focused care, widespread adoption of a family systems perspective that incorporates family system constructs and understands children with feelings and emotions (rather than patients with textbook conditions) is, in my opinion, going to influence the way that children and families live with long-term conditions, and the way in which health and social care services deliver collaborative and integrated care. In parallel, we need to develop evidence-based teaching practices of health professionals, by embedding a research culture into undergraduate and postgraduate teaching of nurses, allied health professionals and medical students, whereby research is an integral part of their learning experience. Finally, we need to go to further lengths to demonstrate and disseminate the findings, benefits and excitement of family-focused research – to patients, families, health professionals and the wider community. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from Professor Brian Cox

    “And for me, our true significance lies in our ability to understand and explore this beautiful universe… on the border between the known, and the unknown. That is the true wonder of the universe.” Professor Brian Cox


    Inspired by his personal experience of living with ill health, Simon Stones is completing his doctoral research at The University of Leeds, under the supervision of Professor Veronica Swallow. You can find more information on his website and follow him @SimonRStones. To review the Twitter Storify of the family-focused care workshop, click here.


    3 Ways to Use Social Media to Make #FamilyNursing More Visible

    This post originally appeared on October 22, 2016, on Dr. Janice M. Bell’s blog. It has been reposted with the author’s permission.

    Family Nursing Unit, University of Calgary: A research and education unit for advanced practice with families experiencing serious illness. Photo donated to the "Family Nursing In Action" Photo Collection, International Family Nursing Association: In this photo, a faculty member and graduate students are watching from behind a one-way mirror a therapeutic conversation between a nurse and a family with young children.

    Family Nursing Unit, University of Calgary: A research and education unit for advanced practice with families experiencing serious illness. Photo donated to the “Family Nursing In Action” Photo Collection, International Family Nursing Association: In this photo, a faculty member and graduate students are watching from behind a one-way mirror a therapeutic conversation between a nurse and a family with young children.

    Over the past four decades, nurses have been changing their usual patterns of clinical practice as they shift from caring for only the “individual patient” to thinking about the “family as the patient” and increasingly welcoming, including, and involving families in nursing practice.  Family nursing theories, practice models, and intervention research are contributing to the mounting evidence that #familynursing makes a difference to family health and healing and to the work satisfaction of nurses (Bell, 2015; Östlund & Persson, 2014; Svavarsdottir et al., 2015). The first International Family Nursing Conference was held in Calgary in 1988.  The Journal of Family Nursing was launched by SAGE Publications in 1995. The International Family Nursing Association became a reality in 2009. Why then is family nursing and an emphasis on family care still not “usual practice” in most health care encounters?

    I’m convinced that social media holds incredible promise to help make #familynursing more VISIBLE (Bell, 2010).  If every family nurse would commit to using social media to share current knowledge about family nursing models, tools, research findings, nursing education resources, and exemplars of success and failure, we could speed up the time it takes for the diffusion of innovation of #familynursing knowledge.

    Here are 3 ways to use social media to make #familynursing more visible:


    Some suggestions for content include:

    a) The International Family Nursing Association (IFNA) website is an open website that contains a wealth of family nursing resources for practice, research, and education including Position Statements, curated bibliographies, practice models,  educational innovations, webinars, stories of family nursing development in a variety of countries, and global member news. While IFNA’s reach is growing, what would happen if even every IFNA member/leader of each IFNA Standing Committee were to commit to a social media plan to share just one IFNA website resource per week? (If you are one of these #familynursing leaders, please take note!)

    b) Search the hashtag #familynursing to see who in your network is posting and tweeting about this topic.  Include a “shout out” to their content. I maintain a list of people in my “tribe” who are tweeting about family nursing. Those who are regularly blogging about #familynursing include: Lorraine Wright, Wilma Schroeder, the IFNA Blog edited by Joel Anderson, and read my blog posts on my personal website.

    c) Select a new journal article to share.  Many journals display social media buttons in the online version of the publication and are using tools such as Kudos, Altmetric, and others to collate social media metrics about the reach of each publication.

    d) Post a “thank you note” to a #familynursing colleague and include a URL to their work. (I’ve recently discovered the Moment option on Twitter which links a collection of tweets.)

    e) Promote your own work and ideas in #familynursing and always include a URL to the information you are sharing.


    Commit to sharing #familynursing content at least once each week:  one email to a colleague, one Facebook post, one tweet, or one LinkedIn post–each message containing a URL link to the family nursing resource you are highlighting. That means at least 52 more efforts to make #familynursing more visible in the world!

    3.USE THE HASHTAG #familynursing.

    Ensure you use the hashtag #familynursing to make your message searchable by others. Also include the handle of the source of your information, i.e, @ifnaorg, etc.

    My dream is that one day #familynursing will become so visible that every family in every health care encounter will come to expect and even request that #familynursing be routinely offered to their family.


    Bell, J.M. (2010).  Social media and family nursing: Where is my tribe? [Editorial].  Journal of Family Nursing, 16(3), 251-255. doi:10.1177/1074840710378404

    Bell, J. M. (2015). Growing the science of Family Systems Nursing: Family health intervention research focused on illness suffering and family healing [L’avancement de la recherché sur l’intervention infirmiere systémique en santé familiale: bilan]. In F. Duhamel (Ed.), La santé et la famille: Une approche systémique en soins infirmiers [Families and health: A systemic approach in nursing care] (3rd ed., 102-125.) Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Gaëtan Morin editeur, Chenelière Éducation. [in French] English language translation available from U of C Institutional Repository, PRISM:

    Östlund, U., & Persson, C. (2014). Examining family responses to Family Systems Nursing interventions: An integrative review.  Journal of Family Nursing, 20, 259-286. doi:10.1177/1074840714542962

    Svavarsdottir, E. K., Sigurdardottir, A. O., Konradsdottir, E., Stefansdottir, A., Sveinbjarnardottir, E. K., Ketilsdottir, A.,…Gudmundsdottir, H. (2015). The process of translating family nursing knowledge into clinical practice. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 47(1), 5-15. doi: 10/1111/jnu.12108


    Janice M. Bell, PhD, RN, is Associate Professor Emerita at the University of Calgary , co-chair of the IFNA Communications Committee, and founding editor of the Journal of Family Nursing. She co-developed the Illness Beliefs Model and focuses her scholarship on illness suffering, family healing, therapeutic conversations with families, family interventions in health care, and family intervention research. You can follow her on Twitter at @janicembell.

    Finding time for “deep work”

    After a bit of conversation with colleagues on a recent Tuesday morning, I simply stated, “Okay, I’m setting the timer for 25 minutes. Go!” And that’s how our monthly writing group began. Over the next two hours, each of us worked intensely in 25-minute blocks on our individual writing tasks, including manuscript revisions, conference presentations, and final reports. After each block of work, we took short breaks for more coffee and conversation before setting the timer again. When we had finished, we each expressed a sense of accomplishment and excitement about the next session.

    The writing group was inspired by previous groups in which I have participated that have used the Pomodoro Technique and are based on the concept of Shut Up and Write. While individually we might block off time in our calendars for writing, sometimes all we end up with are good intentions. Well, at least that sometimes happens to me. But there’s something about the camaraderie of the group that reinforces the goal, breaks down barriers to getting started, and takes some of the sting out of a task some find onerous. And there’s strength in numbers. Given that the group had worked so well at my previous institution, I was keen to get one started at my new academic home. So, this year we’ll be meeting for two hours in the morning on the second Tuesday of each month to write.

    When chatting about the group with my fellow members of the IFNA Communications Committee, co-chair Janice Bell described the group as a way of finding time for “deep work.” I really liked this idea because, at the end of the day, this method of time management would work for any kind of task and it really is about focused, deep work. Following our conversation, Janice shared a few links to resources describing techniques for time management and setting aside time for this deep work.

    Personally, I’ve found the Pomodoro Technique very useful for increasing my productivity. For example, this past May, two of my colleagues and I met in Boston for a writing workshop weekend. Over the course of two and a half days, we submitted two manuscripts, revised several others, and drafted a few more. This was accomplished with 45-minute blocks of time interspersed with a good amount of fun exploring the city and plenty of great conversation over good food. I think that’s one of my favorite aspects of this technique. I know that I will get to interact with my colleagues and friends after an intense period of deep work. It’s almost like a double reward—I get good work done and I get to spend time with interesting people. Win!

    And there are virtual ways of doing this! Thanks to the magic of Twitter and social media, you can join a virtual writing or work group from wherever you are. I know I’ll be tweeting about the work of our group every month, and many folks tweet about their writing using #acwri (academic writing).

    So, set those timers!


    Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing and a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD.

    What’s on the menu?

    Here is a selected list of items IFNA and its members are sharing on Twitter. For a list of IFNA members on Twitter, visit Janice Bell’s blog.

    5 things you need to know to successfully live tweet at an event

    IFNA statement on predatory conferences

    Reducing stigma related to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

    Understanding readmissions following stroke

    Caring for refugee families

    Understanding the root causes of addiction

    The value of family and relationships

    31 things to consider when choosing a journal for submission

    Myths about using social media as a researcher

    How can your research have more impact?

    Pregnancy and mental health

    The silence of our science: nursing research on LGBT older adult health


    Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing and a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD.


    Reflections on IFNC12

    “Have you heard about this meeting in Denmark?” A colleague slid the brochure for the meeting to me and told me that the school was a sponsor for the meeting, which was a year away in Odense, Denmark.

    “Thanks! I’ll look into it.”

    So, I Googled the International Family Nursing Conference and found the IFNA website. As I scrolled through the pages of the site, I recognized several names, particularly Dr. Kathy Knafl who was a consultant on a new intramural research project my colleagues and I were just beginning. The organization and conference sounded interesting. And, if I’m honest, it would mean going to Europe, which was a plus. I made a mental note to ask Kathy about the conference and organization when we had our next meeting.


    File_000 (3)Kathy shared with my colleagues and me a bit of the history of the organization and how these conferences had gone in the past. I liked the sound of a dedicated, passionate group of individuals who focused on the family. It sounded like a truly international group who did good work, but also had fun. I ran a potential abstract idea by Kathy, and she said she thought it would be perfect. It probably didn’t hurt that she was one of the planners for the upcoming conference. She knew a great deal about how this particular conference was going to shape up.


    As the months passed, the abstract I submitted was accepted and soon my colleague Dr. Karen Rose and I were making our travel plans to Odense. As I worked on the presentation for the study, I looked forward to spending a week in Denmark and learning more about IFNA and the research members were conducting. I was particularly intrigued by the promotion of the use of social media for the conference, in particular Twitter.File_000 (2)


    After flying into Copenhagen, Karen and I took the train to Odense and checked into our hotel. Soon we were walking around the streets exploring the city. We happened upon what we soon called our “favorite” café in Odense with delicious, fresh food and a great view of the Odense Rådhus. The next evening, we were in the Rådhus for the opening reception for the conference. To see all of the countries and corners of the globe represented at the meeting was inspiring. It truly was international!


    File_000 (1)Each morning, Karen and I walked down the street to the Wendorff bakery for our breakfast of pastries and coffee. We’d then find our way through the charming streets to the meeting location and spend the day hearing about the research of others or presenting our own studies. The buffet lunch at the meeting was delicious and fresh. For dinner, we would explore the streets of Odense and find a little café where we could eat outside and watch the people. Another highlight of the meeting and part of the fun was the banquet at Hindsgavl Manor in Middelfart.


    File_000 (6)What I liked most about the conference was the feeling of collegiality and camaraderie. Those in attendance were passionate about their research, and yours. It was about the work of supporting families. People were interested in new ideas and new ways of thinking. And it felt like everyone was enjoying themselves—something that can be rare at conferences. Several attendees were tweeting about the experiences at the meeting and I had a lot of fun interacting with them. I even got my colleague Karen on Twitter and tweeting! The Communications Committee presented a workshop of the use of social media in research and practice. I enjoyed the session and noted several ideas and ways in which I could enhance my use of social media in my work. It was my wonderful experience at the conference that led me to accept Janice Bell’s invitation to join the IFNA Communications Committee. She, the other members of the committee, and I met virtually at first via Twitter and in person following their workshop. Since joining the Communications Committee, I am even more excited about IFNC13 in Pamplona next June. As I’ve worked with this dedicated committee of passionate individuals over the past several months, I’m eagerly awaiting getting to see them in person next summer, as well as other IFNA members from around the globe. I’ve a feeling that my experience in Pamplona will be just as rich, if not richer.File_000


    Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing and a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD.

    To Tweet or Not to Tweet: Why Family Nurses Need to Join the Flock Online

     twitter flockWe have all seen the little Twitter bird icon, and may have noticed the box on the IFNA home page where tweets by @IFNAorg appear. As family nurses we are profoundly interested in human connections and relationships. Yet few IFNA members have embraced the connective possibilities of social media such as Twitter. While the world chirps and tweets all around us, we remain on our separate trees and bushes, occasionally flying over to visit each other, but missing the conversation going on in the air.

    So what exactly is Twitter, and what can it do for family nursing?

    What is Twitter? Simply put, it’s a form of online communication that uses very short posts to convey information or opinions. Unlike a blog such as this, which is a monologue, Twitter facilitates dialogue. Think of the posts or “tweets” as sentences in a conversation, where a wide variety of people interact about subjects of interest to them.

    What can you do with Twitter? Twitter provides many opportunities for developing global communities of practice, as follows:

    • Follow & interact with other nurses and practitioners in your field of interest. Start with following @IFNAorg:
    • Find out what is being published in your favourite nursing journals by following them. No need to search for the latest articles; table of contents updates and links to new articles will appear in your feed.
    • Extend your reach: Get a wider audience for your information. For instance, my tweets earned 3,398 impressions during the week preceding the writing of this blog.

    FAQ/Tips & Tricks

    1. How do I join Twitter?
    1. I don’t want to create an account. Can I see tweets without joining?
      • You can see anyone’s tweets as long as their account is public. However, you can’t reply to them, see any lists they have created, or participate in a chat without a Twitter account. And you would have to manually search on each person. If you have an account, all you do is “follow” certain people, and their tweets come directly to your feed.
    1. Do I have to “follow” someone to see their tweets or join a chat?
      • No, all you have to do is search in Twitter for the person’s username, or enter the hashtag of the chat. See the video here for how to join a chat: How to join a Twitter chat
    1. What’s a hashtag?
      • It’s the way topics are “tagged” in Twitter, by using the # sign and a phrase or abbreviation. Try searching in for #familynursing or #familyhealth, and you will see how this works.
    1. How do I keep from being overwhelmed or having to spend a lot of time?
      • Start with just following a few key people or organizations.
      • If you have a smartphone or tablet, download the Twitter app. This makes it easy to just check in when you have a few moments.
      • Create or subscribe to lists of people and organizations that you want to keep up with. Then just check the lists regularly.

    Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 9.12.40 PM

    “Because She Knows Me”: A Poignant Commendation for a Cardiac Family Nurse

    This post originally appeared on September 19, 2015, on Dr. Lorraine Wright’s blog, The Wright Perspective. It has been reposted with the author’s permission.

    Comments made by a family member during a therapeutic conversation can often linger long after a meeting.  This usually is experienced as a paradigm moment of learning for the nurse because the comments trigger an affective and physiological reaction and invite deep reflection. Such was the case with a couple we had the privilege to meet in Odense, Denmark.  The husband made the comment in our family nursing interview that if he needed to speak to anyone about his health concerns, he would talk to his cardiac family nurse “because she knows me”!  The reason that this comment was so profound is that he had spent most of the interview espousing his illness belief that “talking” about his illness, his childhood, or any personal issue was not necessarily helpful or healing for him.

    Left to right: Dr. Lorraine Wright, Dr. Janice Bell

    Left to right: Dr. Lorraine Wright, Dr. Janice Bell

    The Context: the 12th International Family Nursing Conference (IFNC12) was held in Odense, Denmark in August, 2015 and Dr Janice Bell (JMB) and I (LMW) offered a Pre-Conference Workshop.  This was not unusual for us to offer a pre-conference workshop about our Illness Beliefs Model for advanced practice with families suffering with illness (Wright & Bell, 2009).  But what was unusual is that we conducted a live family interview to exemplify our clinical model. It was the first time in the history of the IFNC that a live demonstration interview was offered whereby a therapeutic conversation could be observed and discussed by a group of 30 nurse participants. Once the family meeting concluded and the family departed, we debriefed the session with our own reflections and those of the participants in the workshop. We also answered a few of the participants’ questions about the clinician’s intent during the interview.  LMW conducted the interview while JMB led the pre-session discussion, reflecting team, and post-session discussion with the participants.

    It was perhaps an overly ambitious idea that we could cover all of aspects of a family interview in just three hours.  But learning occurs with every family regardless of the amount of time. The participants of the workshop may have experienced very different paradigm moments or perhaps a similar one based on their own biopsychosocial-spiritual structure.

    The Couple: they had generously agreed to participate in our pre-conference workshop and were recruited from the Heart Failure Outpatient Clinic in Odense where they were involved in the Heart Failure Family Trial research project. The husband, Erik* was 71 with a cardiac condition while his wife, Greta*, aged 70, was experiencing several gynecological concerns. The couple had only been seen once at the Outpatient Clinic as Erik did not believe it was necessary that his wife attend these meetings with his cardiac family nurse Catrina*.

    The Family Interview (Therapeutic Conversation): consisted of a short pre-session discussion where we shared the limited information we had about the family and invited the workshop participants to generate some hypotheses.  This was followed by the actual therapeutic conversation between LMW and the couple and the offering of a reflecting team intervention by JMB, LMW and 4 workshop participants.  LMW then debriefed the session with the family and said good-bye to the family. Then the workshop participants, LMW, and JMB offered their reflections in a post-session discussion.

    IFNC12 Pre-conference workshop participants

    IFNC12 Pre-conference workshop participants

    The Paradigm Moment: the most profound point of the entire interview for us came after the reflecting team’s comments.  LMW asked the family what stood out for them regarding the reflecting team’s discussion and/or the entire conversation.  The husband responded: “talking”.  This was a surprise!  For most of our therapeutic conversation, Erik had related that “talking” was not necessarily healing or useful for him. But then he elaborated on his comment.  He revealed a short narrative about his childhood and expanded on his previous comments of how he was deprived affection and love from his parents with poignant comments like “I was never hugged”.  However, he gave credit to his wife’s family for embracing him within their family and enabling him to feel comfortable with family communication.

    Erik spontaneously offered the idea that if he needed to talk in the future, he would meet with the cardiac family nurse at the outpatient clinic who has been regularly meeting with him regarding his heart condition.  And then he offered the most powerful of statements about why he would feel comfortable discussing with Catrina, his cardiac family nurse.  “Because she knows me”. Is this not the ultimate commendation for any nurse?  Such a comment is a reflection of the relationship that has been established– one of trust, compassion, and understanding without judgment.

    As the clinician (LMW), I admit that I was breathless and  had tears in my eyes at the end of the session as he disclosed more of his childhood story of deprivation of love and affection; how he gained some communication skills thanks to his in-laws and then the remarkable comment of how he would confide in his nurse about health concerns, if need be, because she “knows me”!!

    So the interview ended where it began.  In the beginning, Erik was clearly stating that because of his impoverished childhood, he was not a talker about personal issues, nor even his health concerns.  He did not believe it was helpful, and his wife confirmed that trying to prod her husband to talk only resulted in him becoming angry and withdrawing.  But she had a respectful and compassionate stance about this emotional dynamic between them.  However, at the conclusion of the interview he stated that one of the things he had learned from our meeting together was the importance of “talking” about illness!!

    Once again, a therapeutic conversation seemed magical and unexplainable as this gentleman offered the notion that “talking” can be helpful as one of the insights gleaned from our meeting when he had spent most of the interview defending his point of view that “talking” was not helpful.

    But if we unpack the interview and identify the particular behaviors of the clinician coupled with the comments of the reflecting team, it is clear that there evolved a relationship consisting of a nonjudgmental and non-hierarchical stance. Particular interventions included: a more extensive exploration than usual of the husband’s family of origin during the completion of the genogram because of clinician intuition; curious compassion of this couple’s experiences with serious health concerns; resting from time to time on the positive about Erik and Greta’s resilience and strength; and commendations offered by the clinical team and the clinician (Wright, 2015; Wright & Bell, 2009).  This combination of relational practices brought about a touching and healing conversation for this couple and a marvelous and privileged learning experience for all who participated.

    The events of this therapeutic conversation remind us of the wisdom of T.S. Eliot who said: We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”.

    * Erik, Greta, and Catrina are pseudonyms to honor the privacy of this couple and nurse.

    Dr. Lorraine Wright and Dr. Janice Bell with IFNC12 Pre-conference workshop participants

    Dr. Lorraine Wright and Dr. Janice Bell with IFNC12 Pre-conference workshop participants


    Wright, L. M. (2015).  Brain science and illness beliefs: An unexpected explanation of the healing power of therapeutic conversations and the family interventions that matter. Journal of Family Nursing, 21(2), 186-205. doi:10.1177/1074840715575822

    Wright, L. M., & Bell, J. M. (2009). Beliefs and illness: A model for healing.  Calgary, Alberta, Canada: 4th Floor Press.  Kindle version available from

    Lorraine Wright, RN, PhD, is a member of IFNA and Professor Emerita in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary. With more than 60 articles and book chapters, Dr. Wright has focused her clinical research on illness beliefs, family interventions, and suffering and spirituality. She co-developed the Calgary Family Assessment and Intervention Models and the Illness Beliefs Model. Dr. Wright has given over 300 presentations at national and international nursing, family health and family therapy conferences in Canada, Europe, the British Isles, Israel, Australia, Japan, and the United States. You can follow her on Twitter @drlorwright.

    Dining with dementia

    “…I haven’t found anything…because I’m looking for the answer and nobody has the answer.”

    The quote above came from an interview I conducted as part of a study of family caregivers. I wanted to know what issues they face in trying to provide adequate nutrition for the loved ones with dementia. What struck me most about this quote is how well it seemed to summarize all of the study findings, while at the same time illustrated for me this future directions of this line of research.

    Weight loss and malnutrition are common issues among older adults in general and those with dementia. Malnutrition can occur throughout the disease process, and is associated with death, muscle loss, loss of independence, and institutionalization. Insufficient caloric intake is associated with reduced cognitive function, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and the severity of dementia, particularly behavioral and psychological symptoms.

    Nearly a quarter of family caregivers of persons with dementia, who are often older adults themselves, are at risk for malnutrition. Being a family caregiver for a loved one with dementia is linked with high levels of burden, depressive symptoms, and anxiety, all of which have a negative impact on the nutritional status of the caregiver. And the nutritional status of the family member with dementia is inversely associated with the level of burden experienced by the caregiver. As the level of caregiver burden increases, the risk of malnutrition increasing for both the caregiver and the care recipient.

    Until recently, the specific nutrition concerns and issues of caregivers in the home had not been examined. The small number of existing studies has been conducted outside of the United States. It remains unknown whether existing nutrition education resources adequately and accurately address the nutrition concerns of caregivers. My collaborators and I set out to identify the nutrition-related concerns and topics important to family caregivers of persons with dementia. The results of the study, summarized below, were recently published in the Journal of Aging Research and Clinical Practice and were presented at the 12th International Family Nursing Conference in Odense, Denmark.

    Participants in the study were self-identified, family caregivers for a loved one with dementia. All were English-speaking adults who were to engage in a semi-structured interview with questions focused on nutrition and eating issues of both the care recipient and the caregiver. Detailed notes were taken during the interviews in addition to audio recordings. These recordings were transcribed in full for thematic analysis using Dedoose.

    All of the caregivers were Caucasian, ranging in age from 27 to 83 years. Two were the children of a person with dementia, one was a grandchild, and one was a spouse. The amount of time they had spent providing care for their loved one ranged from 10 months to 10 years. Three caregivers lived with their care recipients while one provided care to a family member who resided in an assisted living facility.

    Four overall themes emerged from the analysis: (1) meal preparation and food choices; (2) lack of appetite and eating behaviors; (3) making sense of existing nutrition information; and (4) searching for reliable nutrition information.

    Meal preparation and food choices

    Participants related instances in which meal preparation and food choices led to experiences of stress and burden. Because all of the caregivers were interested in providing their loved ones with nutritious food choices and options, this desire increased the stress and burden experienced by the caregivers. Caregivers also experienced stress when trying to engage a care recipient who at one time was the primary meal preparer for the family.

    Lack of appetite and eating behaviors

    Caregivers spoke of issues related to feeding challenges, the most common being a lack of appetite. Participants described their care recipients as “distracted” at meal times. The caregivers were frustrated by not knowing whether their loved one with dementia was simply not hungry or was unaware of their need or desire to eat. Caregivers also expressed concerns about their own health while caring for a family member with dementia.

    Making sense of existing nutrition information

    Caregivers were very much interested in accessing and making use of nutritional information. This desire was fueled by the question expressed by each of them–“what should I really be doing?” However, they expressed difficulty not only in finding information, but also making sense of the information they located. Caregivers were frustrated by a lack of synthesis regarding existing nutrition information and resources, as well as the lackadaisical response by health care professionals to their requests for more information.

    Searching for reliable nutrition information

    The desire to locate and use reliable nutrition information and resources was expressed by each of the caregivers. Frequently, they spoke about searching for resources that were “backed up by people who are experts in the field who should actually be able to interpret the results correctly of research studies.” In their efforts to uncover the sought after nutrition information and resources, caregivers described challenges in finding the information for which they were looking. As the quote at the beginning of the post states, they kept looking for answers and not finding them.

    Even though there were only four participants in the current study, saturation was reached. The findings point to a need for personalized, evidence-based nutrition education resources for family caregivers of persons with dementia. My collaborators and I are using the information from this study to support future studies involving nutrition education as a strategy to support family caregivers and loved ones with dementia.

    Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD.

    What are IFNA members talking about on Twitter?

    Here is a selected list of items IFNA and its members are sharing on Twitter. For a list of IFNA members on Twitter, visit Janice Bell’s blog.

    IFNA position statements and translations on pre-licensure family nursing education and generalist competencies for family nursing practice.

    Involving families in healthcare—Danish and Spanish perspectives from Julie Wray (@JuWray)

    Using social media to support student learning from Wilma Schroeder (@wschroederMMFT)

    Is there a role for family nursing in physician assisted death? from IFNA (@IFNAorg)

    Participants’ views of telephone interviews within a grounded theory study from Jennifer Baumbusch (@GERONursing)

    IFNA response to the global refugee crisis from IFNA (@IFNAorg)

    Strength-based parenting and life satisfaction in teenagers from Lindsay Smith (@DrLindsaySmith)

    How the most successful people ask questions from Janice M. Bell (@janicembell)

    Resources for parents experiencing mental illness for helping their families from Wilma Schroeder (@wschroederMMFT)

    Engaging patients and families in communication across transitions of care from IFNA (@IFNAorg)

    The 4 rituals that will make you an expert at anything from IFNA (@IFNAorg)

    Social media could help assess risk of mental illness

    Why do we think we know what we know from Wendy Looman (@looma003)

    Nourishing output from a vending machine

    Predatory publishing

    Publishing secrets

    Tweeting about research and researching about Twitter

    30 tips for successful academic research and writing

    Letting go of stigma

    Finally, not sure how to make the most of your Twitter account? Check out Siobhan O’Dwyer’s presentation about helping academics make the most out of Twitter.

    Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD.

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