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The relational core of nursing practice as partnership


  • Helga Jonsdottir PhD RN,

  • Merian Litchfield PhD RN,

  • Margaret Dexheimer Pharris PhD RN FAAN

Helga Jonsdottir,
Faculty of Nursing,
University of Iceland,
Eiríksgata 34,
101 Reykjavík,


Background.  Consideration of the relational core of nursing has gained significance in today's health systems, where the work of nurses is dominated by technologically-driven, prescriptive, and outcome-oriented approaches. This has led to disregard for individual experiences of living life with diverse health conditions.

Aim.  The aim of this paper is to articulate the relational core of nursing practice as partnership.

Discussion.  The relational core of nursing practice is explicated as a process of professional partnership, focusing on the evolving dialogue between nurse and patient. In partnership, the dialogue is open, caring, mutually responsive and non-directive. The nurse attends to that which is of concern to patients in relation to their health predicaments and the meaning in the health experience unfolds. Nurse and patient reach insight that represents more useful ways of comprehending and acting on their health predicaments.

Conclusions.  Partnership represents theoretically-driven practice that invites nurses to meet patients where they are in understanding their health predicaments and what can be done about them. As such, partnership strengthens the resolve of nurses to resist the pressures of contemporary health service delivery to provide a technical form of practice and it protects the relational core of a fully professional practice.