Oral Presentation The 26th International Nursing Philosophy Conference 2023

Another Nursing is Possible: Ethics, Political Economies, and Possibility in an Uncertain World  (#60)

Jess Dillard-Wright 1
  1. University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, United States

Overtaxed by the realities laid bare in the pandemic, nursing has imminent decisions to make. The exigencies of pandemic times overextend a healthcare infrastructure already groaning under the weight of inequitable distribution of resources and care commodified for profit. We can choose to prioritize different values.This is not the only nursing that is possible, following philosopher of science Isbelle Stengers’s manifesto for slow science.  With this talk, I pick up threads of nursing’s historical ontology, drawing previous scholarship on the historical narratives nurses use to understand themselves. Peeling back nursing’s myth to alternate points of origin allows me to consider alternate lines of flight, a speculative adventure in paths not taken but paths that exist nonetheless. I go on to examine what a collective ethic of nursing could be, when we make space for these alternate histories, considering the confluences and conflicts that enable nurses to care and those that inhibit them from doing so. The imperative for this lies in the central importance of the reproductive labor of nursing healthcare. This leads me to a critique of nursing’s capitulation to the pressures of late stage capitalism. This is a problem with ethical and ontological implications both for nursing, and also for those who require nursing care. This presents an imperative to think about the kinds of present/futures for health, care, and healthcare we might co-create in collaboratively and solidarity with the communities in which nurses are imbricated, shedding the trappings of neoliberalism. There is significant power in the vision and praxis of 27 million nurses and midwives worldwide. Our ethics can guide our imagination which can in turn create possibility. This kind of endeavor - that of dreams and imagination - leads us to what could be, if only we leap.