Concept and Origination

The Massachusetts Regional Caring Science Consortium (MRCSC) is a regional grass-root forum created to increase opportunities to explore the philosophy, ethic, and practices of Caring Science. It was initiated by Dr. Lynne Wagner, EdD, MSN, RN, FACCE, CHMT, Caritas Coach, and Dr. Mary Mullany, DNP, APRN-BC, Caritas Coach when, in March 2013, they posted an article in the state-wide distributed ANA Massachusetts Report on Nursing simply inviting nurses to informally and periodically gather together to reconnect with core values of nursing as a healing profession and  to restore an ethic of caring in health care systems. They introduced themselves, the theory of Caring Science, and the premise that nurses struggle to keep the heart and art of nursing alive amidst the chaos of health care. The article invited nurses to join together to “transform nursing practice and health care settings with caring-healing approaches that center on caring for yourself, colleagues and patients.” Within two weeks after the article was published, over 70 nurses from diverse clinical, leadership, and academic backgrounds responded, including recent graduates of the Watson’s ANCC accredited Caritas Coach Education Program (CCEP). Consortium participants have learned from each other’s experiences. As a grass root forum, there are no fees to join; conference organizers and speakers are volunteers; and  conference venues are provided by area educational and health organizations without charge. The list of interested nurses and other health professionals is now over 200.

First Years

For the first two years, the MRCSC met every 6 to 8 weeks on a weekday evening for two hours of meaningful heart-centered informal participants’ presentations and group sharing of caring nursing practices and healing approaches that create caring relationships, environments, work cultures and healing patient outcomes. Attendance varied from small to midsize groups. During snowy winter months teleconference meetings were offered. Presentations included:

      • review of Watson’s Theory of Human Caring in practice;
      • a study on ethical caring; integrating technology with caring practices;
      • creating healing environments through storytelling and gratitude;
      • a synthesis of caring from nurse, student and patient perspectives;
      • caring in nursing education, creating a culture change within a large hospital through “caring intentions” rituals;
      • practicing authentic presence with patients to increase quality of care;
      • importance of nurse self-care in better providing care to patients;
      • creating Caritas cultures and systems,
      • holistic nursing and its relationship with caring science,
      • Watson’s identified four tasks of human healing,
      • sustaining the heart of nursing through resiliency in nursing practice, and
      • caring for self as practitioner.

Transition to Conference Structure

In 2015, Dr. Wagner envisioned a new plan that would increase participation and enlarge the dialogue.  Re-visioning the intent of the Consortium for not only individuals to share but also systems, the structure of MRCSC evolved from bimonthly short informal gatherings to one or two half-day conferences a year held at hospitals, schools and other institutions which graciously offer to host.

Each gathering offers a keynote speaker and a format for sharing ideas and practical exemplars that promote caring practice, such as project presentations by Caritas Coaches (graduates of the Watson’s 6-month Caritas Coach Education Program), as well as by leaders, educators, and staff nurses using caring theory and philosophy to guide practice.  Registration is required for each event, but at present, keeping with the mission and vision that this Consortium be open and available to all nurses and through the gracious response of the hosting institutions, there is no cost to attend. Continental breakfast and Continuing Education units (contact hours) are offered. The conferences have been well attended and well received with very positive feedback.

With this new format, seven conferences have been held to date,  usually meeting from 7:30 am to 12 noon and hosted at different sites around the state. Each conference has been a success as nurses, other health care providers, and students actively learn together, participate in dialogue, and share about caring practice.

 Past MRCSC Conferences

  1. Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA; November 12, 2015
      • Hosted by Department of Nursing, Dr. Jackie Somerville, CNO
      • Keynote Presentation: Susan M. Lee, PhD, RN, CNP, Senior Nurse Scientist, Founder of AgeWise
      • Keynote Topic:  Caring Science: A Guide to Care Among Frail Elders
  1. Vincent’s Hospital, Worcester, MA; May 5, 2016
      • Calling Nurses to Reclaim the Heart of Nursing Through Caring Models of Practice
      • Hosted by, Department of Nursing, Robert Ready, MN, RN, NEA-BC, FAEN, Senior Director, Professional Development and Practice.
      • Keynote Presentation:  Jeanine Young-Mason, RN, CS, EdD, FAAN, Distinguished Professor Emerita, School of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Amherst
      • Keynote Topic: Hearing the Patient’s Voice
  1. Graduate School of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Worcester Medical School, April 27, 2017.
      • Caring Science in Action:  The Healing Power of the Caring Moment
      • Hosted by GSN, UMass Worcester, Dr. Joan Vitello, Dean and Professor
      • Keynote Presentation:  Stephanie Ahmed, DNP, FNP-BC Director, Ambulatory Nursing, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA
      • Keynote Topic: The Power of the Caring Moment: Relational Caring for Self and  Others
  1. Elms College, School of Nursing, Chicopee, MA, October 20, 2017
      • Caring Science: A Framework for Personal and Professional Healing-Caring Practices in Health Care and Educational Systems
      • Hosted by the School of Nursing, Dr. Kathleen Scoble, Dean & Professor
      • Keynote Presentation:  Veda Andrus, EdD, MSN, RN, HN-BC, Vice President, Education and Program Development, The BirchTree Center for Healthcare Transformation, Florence, MA.
      • Keynote Topic: Stop, Look, and Listen: The Future of Healthcare is About Kindness and Compassion
  1. Simmons College, School of Nursing and Health Sciences, April 26, 2018
      • The Intersection of Caring Science and Current Health Care Challenges: Building Resiliency through Healing Relationships and Environments
      • Hosted by School on Nursing and Health Sciences, Dr. Judy Beal, Dean and Professor
      • Keynote Presentation:  Annie Lewis-O’Connor, PhD, NP-BC, MPH, FAAN  Senior Nursing Scientist and Director of Nursing Practice; Founder & Director of the C.A.R.E. (Coordinated Approach to Recovery and Empowerment) Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA
      • Keynote Topic:  Shifting the Paradigm: Trauma-Informed Care Promoting Transpersonal Healing Relationships
  1. Regis College, School of Nursing, April 4, 2019
      • The Healing Power of Caring Communication and Relationships with Self and Others in Nursing Practice and Educational Settings
      • Hosted by the School of Nursing, Dr. Diane Welsh, Dean and Professor
      • Keynote Presentation:  Sheila Davis, DNP, ANP-BC, FAAN, Chief of Clinical Operations and Chief Nursing Officer at Partners in Health (PIH), a Global Healthcare Organization that brings care to poor developing countries.
      • Keynote Topic:  Global Nursing: Stories of Caring
  1. Graduate School of Nursing, University of Massachusetts Worcester Medical School, November 5, 2019.
      • The Power of Caring Science to Create Healing Work Environments
      • Hosted by GSN, UMass Worcester, Dr. Joan Vitello, Dean and Professor
      • Keynote Presentation:  Jean Watson, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, FAAN, (LL-AAN)  Renowned nurse theorist of Caring Science; Distinguished Professor Emerita and Dean Emerita, University of Colorado Denver, College of Nursing, Anschutz Medical Center; author of many publications; and Founder/Director of the Watson Caring Science Institute (WCSI)
      • Keynote Topic:  Caritas Nursing IS the Healing Environment.

Current Status and Objectives for the Future

In addition to this website that is  dedicated to  Consortium communication,  an email list  has been established of past MRCSC  conference participants and others who have expressed interest in the consortium. List members receive notices for the upcoming MRCSC conferences, the annual Watson Caring Science Institute’s International Caritas Consortium conferences held in various parts of the USA and other countries, as well as other events and opportunities around caring theory and practice, including free online courses and certificate courses. The email list remains private and is not used for any other purpose.

The possibilities of caring practices for healing self, patient-care, relationships, work environments, and health care systems are limitless and expand when health care providers intentionally gather and engage in meaningful and practice-changing conversations around the philosophy, theories and practice of humanizing caring.