2nd International Integrative Nursing Symposium


Four years ago, when the Weil Integrative Medicine Library welcomed the volume on integrative nursing into its series, its editors (Mary Koithan and myself) along with several of the book’s key contributors conceived of an international symposium that would bring together forward-thinking nurses who wanted to look back to find nursing’s original spirit and practices which are rooted in caring and healing. Around the globe, millions of nurses practice person-centered care that blends integrative therapies with conventional care, and focuses on advancing the wellbeing of people, organizations, and communities. Challenges of today’s high-tech, payment-defined environments within healthcare systems can make the work that nurses do (and aspire to do) difficult.

In May, 2015, the first International Integrative Nursing Symposium was held in Reykjavik, Iceland, and was co-hosted by this University’s Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing/School of Nursing and the University of Iceland’s School of Nursing. Participants’ evaluation of the first gathering made it clear that spirits had been reignited, and attendees called for a bi-annual symposium that would alternate between locations abroad and the U.S. Thus, the second Symposium was held in April, 2017 in Tucson, AZ, and was titled, “Creating Compassionate Healthcare Systems.” This conference was co-hosted by the University of Arizona’s School of Nursing and the U of Minnesota’s Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing. My purpose with this letter is to provide you with a brief summary of and photos from that extraordinary experience which was successful due in large part to the support we received from the Weil Foundation.

On April 5, 2017 the Second International Integrative Nursing Symposium opened in Tucson at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. The three-day conference drew 241 participants from 12 countries including Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Turkey, Israel, and, of course, the United States. A pre-conference workshop on Integrative Nurse Coaching, led by national expert Barbara Dossey, was held prior to the Symposium’s opening ceremonies; that session drew 32 participants who wanted to understand the expanded role of a Nurse Coach in health, healing, and wellbeing. To establish research and program development as central to the Symposium’s scope, a call for abstracts was issued, and 99 applications were received. Abstracts were presented on applications of integrative nursing across clinical settings and patient populations. Clusters of abstracts focused on mental health, senior care, oncology, pediatrics, adult health, acute care, and community health. Needless to say, a highlight was Andrew Weil’s keynote address where he talked about themes from
his newest book, Mind Over Meds. Integrative nurses could readily identify with the issues he posed and the adverse impact of poly pharmacy on health outcomes. Finally, in addition to the expansive integrative nursing agenda, attendees enjoyed drumming by the Tohono O’odham Nation; a fiesta with student mariachis and dancers; and Grammy-winning guitarist, Gabriel Ayala, a member of the Yaqui people of southern Arizona.

The Weil Foundation’s funding was dedicated to scholarships. We were pleased to welcome twenty-eight students—undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate fellows—to the Symposium through these scholarships. Several of the students presented posters. Attached is a collage of photos captured by me and my colleagues which you are welcome to post on the Weil Foundation’s website. This next generation of nurses feels that they are now part of an emerging movement in integrative nursing, and it gives me hope when I consider that these nurses will soon be leaders in our future health systems.

I am delighted to report that plans are underway for the Third International Integrative Nursing Symposium to be held at the Galway Bay Hotel in Galway, Ireland from May 22-24, 2019. The framework will model earlier conferences by assembling expert faculty who will offer sessions focused on applications of integrative nursing in various global clinical settings. A special emphasis will be the leadership that Irish nurses are bringing to Ireland’s health policy arena. Companion discussions related to integrative therapies, informatics, research methodology, self-care, and nursing education will also take place. I have assembled a dynamic planning committee, and already we have partnership commitments from nursing groups based in the U.S. and Ireland. We will provide you and the Weil Foundation’s board with more information when we submit our proposal for program/scholarship support later this year.
The exciting movement that sparks a sense of renewal and empowerment among hundreds of nurses worldwide would not be where it is today, even in a formative stage, without the Weil Foundation’s consistent support.

As I noted earlier, this all came about because the Integrative Nursing text was invited to be part of the Weil Integrative Medicine Library, and we were able to realize this vision in collaboration with leaders from Oxford Press! By fall 2018, the second edition—with substantially enhanced content—will be ready for use in nursing programs worldwide and will be showcased at the 2019 Symposium in Ireland!

Thank you so much for being with us as we establish a powerful forum where nurses can dialogue about pressing issues in healthcare; explore new approaches for self-care and wellbeing; and consider ways in which leadership, clinical care, education, and design thinking can enhance the patient care experience. I look forward to being in touch with you again in the months to come.

Mary Joe Kreitzer PhD, RN, FAAN
Director, Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing