Montana State University

MSU nursing professor recognized at international nursing theory conference

June 21, 2016 -- Denise Hoepfner, MSU News Service

Christina Sieloff, an associate professor in MSU's College of Nursing, was recognized recently as a distinguished speaker at an international nursing theory conference. MSU photo by Leslie McDaniel

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BOZEMAN – Christina Sieloff, an associate professor in Montana State University’s College of Nursing, was recognized recently as a distinguished speaker at a national conference focused on nursing theory.

Sieloff presented alongside other renowned experts in nursing theory at the International Nursing Theory Conference held in April at Azusa Pacific University in Monrovia, California. The aim of the two-day conference was to advance disciplinary knowledge in nursing to inform, transform and reform health care through practice, education and research.

Sieloff describes nursing theory as an organized framework of ideas, knowledge and actions designed to guide the practice of nursing. Many types of nursing theories have been developed over the years to explain and describe nursing care, guide nursing practice and provide nurses with a foundation for clinical decision making, she added.

These theories are what allow nurses to provide knowledge-based patient care and position nursing as a profession rather than as a vocation, Sieloff said.

“As a profession, nursing needs to have its own unique knowledge that can be used to provide care,” she said. “That knowledge should have a focus on caring, working collaboratively with the patient and helping them to achieve their goals and outcomes. Because we try to look at the whole patient, we need unique nursing theory and nursing knowledge, not only to help the patients, but to maintain our standards as a profession.”

In 1995, Sieloff developed a theory to assist nursing teams in assessing and improving their level of group empowerment. The theory, which has been refined over the years, has been translated into Finnish, Hebrew and Korean. It is based on the work of Imogene King, a pioneer in nursing theory who emphasized goal-setting between nurse and patient as a means to better results.

A registered nurse, Sieloff is based on the college’s Billings campus and teaches care management online to students in MSU’s accelerated nursing program. She also teaches nursing theory as part of the college’s scholarly project seminar for doctoral students. The MSU College of Nursing has campuses across the state in Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Missoula and Kalispell.

Nearly 200 faculty and nursing students attended the April conference Sieloff said. On the first day, Sieloff was paired with nursing scientist Afaf Meleis, the Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania, to highlight how nursing theories strengthen the impact of nursing’s disciplinary knowledge on education, practice, research and health policy.

The second day, Sieloff and other nursing theorists, scholars and scientists, participated in panel discussions to address how health care would look if nursing knowledge and nursing theory were truly integrated through these different areas.

Sieloff said she was honored to present with internationally-known nursing theorists and experts in nursing theory.

“These individuals were very welcoming to me, supportive of my presentations and ideas, and collaborative,” she said.

That Sieloff’s work was recognized by other leaders in nursing theory came as no surprise to her MSU colleagues.

Susan Ahrens, director of the MSU College of Nursing campus in Billings, said Sieloff’s dedication to furthering King’s theory during her academic career has led to a better understanding of the importance of empowerment in nursing.

“Throughout her doctoral program, Christina was very interested in measuring empowerment in nursing and was dedicated to using a nursing theory to develop her instrument,” Ahrens said. “She has presented her instrument results and papers on the theory over the years and is a recognized name among these scholars.”

Helen Melland, dean of the College of Nursing, noted that Sieloff presented among “legends” in nursing theory.

“I took a class from one of them many years ago and consider that as a ‘claim to fame,’” Melland said. “For Christina to be among these scholars is fabulous.”

Jane Scharff, director of the Bozeman campus, said she was filled with pride when she learned Sieloff had been selected as a distinguished speaker at the conference.

“These are the people who have been shaping the world of nursing theory for my entire career,” Scharff said. “These are the people who have written the books on nursing theory. When nursing theory is taught in graduate programs across the globe, these people are in the discussion.”

Christina Sieloff, csieloff@montana.edu or (406) 657-2614