(Ir) Reconcilable Differences? The Debate Concerning Nursing and Technology


  • Margarete Sandelowski

    Corresponding author
    1. Margarete Sandelowski, PhD, RN, FAAN, Alpha, Alpha, Professor, Department of Women's and Children's Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.
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Dr. Sandelowski, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Nursing, 7460 Carrington Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, E-Mail: msandelo. uncson@mhs.unc.edu


Purpose: To review and critique the debate concerning nursing and technology. Technology has been considered both at one at odds with nursing.

Organizing Construct: Mitcham's (1994) concepts of technological optimism and romanticism.

Source: Nursing literature since 1960.

Methods: Historical analysis.

Findings: Technological optimists in nursing have viewed technology as an extension of and as readily assimilable into humanistic nursing practice, and nursing as socially advantaged by technology. Technological romantics have viewed technology as irreconcilable with nursing culture, as an expression of masculine culture, and as recirculating existing gender and social inequalities.

Conclusions: Both optimists and romantics essentialize technology and nursing, treating the two as singular and fixed entities. The (ir)reconcilability of nursing and technology may be a function of how devices are used by people in different contexts, or of the (ir)reconcilability of views of technology in nursing.