Unitary human being is like being connected with hula hoops: a student presentation.
Article Type: Report
Subject: Nurses (Practice)
Authors: Molton, Mandisa
Osei, Linda
Cruver, Nicole
Hanavan, Emily
Horovitz, Dori
Pub Date: 01/01/2011
Publication: Name: Visions: The Journal of Rogerian Nursing Science Publisher: Society of Rogerian Scholars Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Society of Rogerian Scholars ISSN: 1072-4532
Issue: Date: Jan, 2011 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics
Product: Product Code: 8043100 Nurses NAICS Code: 621399 Offices of All Other Miscellaneous Health Practitioners
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 272167868
Full Text: The Science of Unitary Human Being is almost too complex to grasp at first. The words Rogerians use are not words we use everyday. For instance, as humans we are not "particulate", but "unitary". And Rogerian nurse scientists urge us to "bring our highest frequency to practice". I (Mandisa) was assigned as a work study student to help one of our professors, Dr. Sarah Gueldner, and I spent some time in her office, where I learned that Dr. Gueldner was really high on Rogers--in fact, she even referred to herself as a "Rogerian". And her office had more purple things in it than any of the other faculty offices do. I soon learned that the color purple is the highest frequency that is visible to the human eye--the next higher color is ultraviolet, which is not visible to the naked eye. And prominently displayed on her wall there was a framed poster of a smiling, playful Martha Rogers wearing a billed black cap that had, stitched across the front, Just Visiting this Planet. (Dr. Gueldner smiled and told me she had purchased the cap at a truck stop, then gave it to Martha.) I thought that was unusual at the time, but I later came to understand that it was a classic poster that captured the fun loving side of the theorist, Martha Rogers. Dr. Gueldner also pointed out her collection of Visions the Journal of Rogerian Nursing Science on her bookshelf.

So when we were assigned to do a group presentation in our graduate nursing theory class, four of my classmates and I signed up to portray Martha Rogers' Science of Unitary Human Beings. We certainly didn't make it easy on ourselves, but it turned out to be a lot of fun, and now we know the Science of Unitary Human Beings better than most students do. To get an "A" on a class presentation (which my classmates and I were of course aiming for) you needed to ace your presentation, and we had a great idea. We bought 5 purple (i.e., unitary) plastic hula hoops embedded with sparkly shiny flecks--they were awesome. And we prepared a skit to convey our interpretation of unitary human being. We didn't actually write a script for the skit--it seemed like it would be wrong to write a script for a Rogerian presentation, where things are supposed to just emerge. Our presentation was to be a demonstration of the unitary field, highlighting the five of us as unitary humans integral with each other and with our shared environmental field that included other human fields. After the presentation we gave the sparkly hula hoops to Dr. Gueldner, and she still keeps three of them tucked between her desk and her file cabinets--two people asked if they could have one to exercise with, so there are only three hula hoops left in her office now. You can see them through the little full length vertical window by her door.

But back to our presentation. While we did not write a script, our storyline was about a patient who was to receive bad news about her diagnosis from the physician, in her room at the hospital. The skit began as the nurse woke up and had to deal with problems at home and on the bus as she came to work, and finished as the nurse and physician gathered in the patient's room to deliver the unwelcome news that she had a serious health problem. We continually held our hula hoops around us, to convey our individual human energy fields...and as we came upon others we held one hand on the other person's hula hoop and they held ours with one of their hands, conveying that our fields were not separate, but unitary. At some points in the skit the fields of all five of us were connected in this way with each other.

Encircled by our hula hoops, we portrayed two different scenarios; in the first scenario the nurse had encountered bothersome difficulties before she got to work, including unpleasant interactions with her family and friends, made worse by transportation problems that made her late getting to work, making her have to run up the steps at the hospital to get to her unit "on time" (as if time is a finite concept, as is presumed in most work places). She carried these problems with her, making her interactions with the doctor and her nursing colleagues curt, and the session with the patient was less effective and comforting than it might have been.

In the second scenario the nurse encountered the same problems at home and on the way to work, but she was mindful that the others who she met may have had similar experiences at home or on the way to work, so she was able to acknowledge that together they shared a unitary human field, which made her able to be with them in a different, more unitary way. She was able to accept their irritating behaviors (as well as her own) as an expression of the mutual human field that could be made better. With this insight, she was able to view her own difficulties and theirs differently, and in doing so she was able to help the group transform the negative energy within their mutual unitary field to create a more positive field. We used the hula hoops to convey that neither the patient nor the health care staff were separate entities, but cohabitants of the mutual human-environmental field, which includes all other fields.

So we came "to work" at the hospital depicting two different "field" scenarios. One scenario depicted the usual way that patients are attended when things go wrong, and the other conveyed a more unitary scenario. Since it is never all that easy to get to work, we started our wrong then unitary skits at home, with things going wrong, then a difficult commute, a bothersome coworker and an irritable physician. In the first scenario we were still carrying that baggage with us, so we were thinking about ourselves--we rolled our eyes when the doctor made a snide remark about nurses, and paid very little attention to the patient and her family member. Rather, our attention was directed to our co-workers, who were getting on our nerves.

Then we exited the stage, and reentered portraying a Rogerian approach. And this time we held our pretty sparkly hula hoops around us, portraying our fields. The troubles at home and getting to work were the same, but as we encountered our co-workers and the patient and her family, we acted differently. We merged our field with the fields of others who we came upon--holding our own hula hoop (i.e. our individual human field) with one hand and at the same time holding the hula hoop of another person; and they held to ours, symbolic of the mutual human field that we shared. And when we got to the patient and her family member, they were included as a part of the larger mutual field. Holding our own and each others' hula hoops, our fields became emerged in mutual process.

We symbolically connected with the human fields of each other, and together we joined and shared the field with the patient and her family, and with the still persnickety doctor. Visually and experientially connected, we acknowledged and embraced our collective energy field, and our conversation and the nursing care changed. Separateness melded into unity, and the scenario changed dramatically. We felt like one mutual energy field instead of five separate human fields, and our interactions mellowed. As unitary human beings, we were attentive to each other, and things went better. We were also more civil to those who had created problems in the first scenario, and we acknowledged the patient and her family as unitary human beings within the mutual human field. With this conscious change in the perspective of mutuality, communications improved, with a sense of increased relevance for each person. The hula hoops helped to convey the unitary connection of all humans within the mutual human field.

An editorial comment by Sarah Gueldner.

Most would agree that nursing has never been easy on its young, and I'm sometimes afraid that is especially true for Rogerian nurses. It's not easy being a student within Rogerian Science. We expect a lot of our future generations; they must learn and embrace the language, and we Rogerian "elders" who "knew Martha" (as she allowed us to call her) require that they "get it right". And we learned that at Martha's side --she wrote "PARTICULATE !" in letters three quarters of an inch high across my diagram of Rogerian thinking--and me feeling sure that she was going to love my diagram!

She had agreed to serve as a consultant to my dissertation committee, but then had the serious car accident that left her on a pulmonary ventilator for several weeks, so I assumed that she wouldn't be able to read it. But Martha knew how to get over things, and just a few weeks before I was scheduled to defend my dissertation proposal, she left a message on my home phone that she was better now, and would be staying at her cottage (named "Corn Pone Cottage"), near the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, and could read the draft of my dissertation proposal. And she told me where to send it. She also extended an invitation to the members of my dissertation committee and me to join her there, where she would share her thoughts in regard to the draft my dissertation proposal. Well! What a shock--I had finished the draft of my dissertation, and had already distributed it to my committee. None of my committee members were of the Rogerian persuasion, but fortunately all respected her highly, and were very supportive of me; and they were pleased that I had connected with Dr. Rogers so that I could "get it right". So I sent her the draft of my dissertation proposal, and prepared to go to her place in the Smoky Mountains to receive her comments. One classmate and one member of my dissertation committee accompanied me "to the mountain".

But when I got there I was astonished to see that she had written "particulate" across what I thought to be a near perfect diagram conveying my application of Rogerian theory in terms of my dissertation research; I was practically distraught. So when I got a chance, I made a long distance phone call to my doctoral classmate back in Alabama to ask her to retrieve the copies of my dissertation proposal that I had just distributed to my committee members--because I could see that I wasn't nearly ready to defend in the special Rogerian language just yet. So, long story short, it's not easy being Rogerian, but it is a noble thing to do. And my dissertation proposal only took a couple of months longer that it would have if I hadn't "gone to the mountain" to "get it right".

Mandisa Molton, Linda Osei, Nicole Cruver, Emily Hanavan, and Dori Horovitz: Nursing Students at Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, at Case Western Reserve University Endnote by Dr. Sarah Gueldner
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