Poster Presentation The 26th International Nursing Philosophy Conference 2023

The Nurse+Engineer: An Essential V-Shaped Professional in the Anthropocene (#27)

Daniel Oerther 1 , Sarah Oerther 2
  1. Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO, United States
  2. School of Nursing, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO, United States

Since the time of Nightingale and Bazalgette (the engineer who built London’s first sewers solving the problem of The Great Stink), nurses and engineers have worked together from the bedside and into the community solving the health challenges of the Anthropocene. Both nurse and engineer are actions and professions; which means that both nursing and engineering steward unique bodies of knowledge transmitted through higher education and on the job training, participate with government in effective self-regulation, and support continuing professional growth through exclusive membership organizations. Unfortunately, increased specialization – in healthcare the dominance of the medical/surgical model over the preventative care/palliative care model; in engineering the derivatization into increasingly technical sub-disciplines such as civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering, among others – has fetishized technology as savior to a broken global healthcare system. Death is viewed as an enemy of life. People are fully insulated from nature. And the tyranny of experts crushes person-centered empowerment. To save the future of humanity’s health, we must develop a new philosophy – or the values, ethics, beliefs, and motivations of professionals. Rather than continue on the current path of I-shaped specialization – ever drilling deeper into a single profession – we argue that the nurse+engineer is a new V-shaped professional. Nursing and engineering – that appear to operate in parallel at present – may be pointed towards a common future. Just as an artist selects a vanishing point to create the illusion of three dimensions on a canvas, so we as convergence researchers may de-center the role of humanity and regain an appropriate understanding that life on planet earth extends from the microbes in the soil to future generations of people on the other side of the globe. We need not be trapped in the Anthropocene, when human activity dominates earth systems.

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