Seasons Greetings and New Age Nursing Garb now Available!

Hi all,

Just a quick missive to wish all science colleagues everywhere seasons greetings!

In looking at a quick end-of year roundup there have been some excellent science humor events. I see this year’s IgNoble Awards had another round of worthy winners. See: My favourite has to be the research team who tested the theory that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds)! On similar lines I see that the Canadian Association of Witch Doctors has announced its 2015 Dr. Woo Awards. The categories for awards are worth a visit to the website alone.

And lastly a US colleague (Linda Rosa, of that famous debunking Therapeutic Touch paper) put me on to a new line of clothing for the most discerning nurse. Just in time for that last minute seasonal gift. Yes indeed, Jean Watson has now a complete line of mystical nursing clothing available at: I must say, the lab coats look like something out of a 60’s sci-fi series, and I am almost tempted. It does look like Caring Caritas is on the verge of turning into a full-blown new-age TV evangelist religion, complete with mystic cult leader. Anyhow, you have to give JW credit for the sheer commercial chutzpah though, and amazingly all that tautological nonsense still seems to go down very well in nursing academia.

We should consider, being is the centre of not-being and at this time of year we should centre our human-becoming in not-becomingness to fully experience maximum maximumness for inner selflessness. Actually, that sounds pretty good and I think I might just publish it (or sell it on some T-shirts). Ommm to all, and all the best for 2016.

Onwards and Upwards


NANDA Disturbed Energy Field RIP at last

Hi folks,

Interesting to note that the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA) has finally removed “Disturbed energy field” from  its books as a valid nursing diagnostic term. Although, the qualification for its removal was a rather vague:

 “All literature support currently provided for this diagnosis is regarding intervention rather than for the nursing diagnosis itself.”

That sounds a little tautological, and maybe politically phrased to avoid offense to the many nurse therapeutic touch (TT) practitioners. I am not sure how evidence would pertain to a diagnosis rather than a practice? Maybe they mean’t that the nonscientific, and bad scientific work quoted in support of it only referred to the therapeutic use of TT rather than an energy field disturbance? Who knows, but at least its gone.

However, it was on the books for 22 years, and this speaks to the power of the anti-science agenda in North American nursing, that still pervades much of the profession, and especially in nursing academia. It was only really due to the public outcry and work of more high profile skeptics opposing this sort of nonsense (such as  James Randi, Rob Glickman, Brian Hart), and registered nurses as discussed here:

… that this issue was ever taken seriously by NANDA at all.

The California Board of RNs actually issued continuing education credits (CEUs) for nurses undertaking TT courses until they were spoofed by a skeptics organization and their board terminated (sorry couldn’t resist) from office by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2009 It is still amazing to think that a class teaching Feng Shui, Anthropomancy, and TT was actually approved as a valid source of education development for qualified nurses, sigh…

However, this return to clear thinking about the role of magical therapies in healthcare and scientific evidence has yet to cross the border it seems. The Canadian Nurse publication has had two articles in it promoting TT in the last few years,  and the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (CRNBC) still allows nurses who practice TT to use their RN title to promote it and sell TT services, supports it as a nursing intervention, and has stated it is within the scope of RN practice (with training in the methods). TT is also still taught here at Langara College locally. (although not in the School of Nursing there). I wrote to the head of the department (Contiinuing Ed.) and the President at Langara earlier this year about my concerns in teaching non-evidence based magical health therapies in a public educational institution. I have yet to receive a reply from either. The standard for its justification here is hearsay, the usual “other ways of knowing” argument and bad-science/pseudoscience, which I find very odd. We would not accept that sort of justification for support of blood letting or animal sacrifice as valuable healthcare practices. So why allow this level of evidence to justify TT? I can only summize it is a profitable endeavour.

Plenty of work to do it seems. In light of this I would be very interested to hear from any Canadian Nurses who have attended continuing education sessions, or courses recently that taught magical content. Especially those who would be prepared to share handouts from such session (anonymised please).

In the meantime I wonder if I should pull together a course on anthropomancy, I know of a local college that just might be interested…

Happy Halloween all,










Canadian Nursing Association Resolution to Promote Science Based Nursing and Autonomy Fails

Hi all,

To publicize the fact that nurses are losing professional ground to magical healthcare practitioners here in BC, and that since 2009 nurses have been legally required to take orders from naturopaths, I submitted a resolution to the Canadian Nurses Association as an individual member to protect the autonomy of nursing in future.

I had previously raised this issue with the CRNBC and also with the ARNBC but neither were interested in pursuing it, (CRNBC is solely focused on regulation rather than looking out for the profession now) and it probably isn’t a key priority for ARNBC at the moment due to the ongoing legal battle with the BCNU.

The resolution simply suggested that the CNA advocate that registered nurses (RNs) in Canada not be subject to legislation that requires them to take direction/orders from other health care professions that do not have a superior level of both academic and clinical preparation (that must include Canadian publicly accredited university graduate level academic qualifications, and substantial hospital-based education and training in their field).The full resolution is available here.

This was considered at today’s annual meeting, and after a short debate (4 mins and 35 seconds) it was narrowly rejected by the members. I am not particularly surprised, but am rather saddened that the profession has not taken a simple action that would help strengthen the professional status of nursing in Canada, and protect nurses from further professional exploitation.

The arguments that went against it were mainly from BC (no surprise there) and were:

  1. It isn’t a problem as nurses can always refuse to act against orders given, and
  2. Strong language about using “Canadian” accredited qualifications and “superior levels of qualification” does not recognize the autonomy of other professions and international qualifications.


  • Yes: 77
  • No: 78
  • Abstain: 0

The point about international qualifications is reasonable. and could easily be included with an amendment such as “or equivalent” but the spirit of the resolution was clear enough, so a shame it didn’t pass with an amendment. Got support from the North West Territories though (yea, go NWT)!

Nurses continue to be at the mercy of political trends that leave new CAM practitioners who gain regulatory status the ability to identify themselves as better qualified than nurses though quackademic credentials. So, far from moving away from the role of “physicians handmaidens” and promoting advanced practice and professional autonomy nurses will continue to be seen as fair game in the Canadian healthcare system to become subservient to any complementary and alternative practitioners who care to call themselves “doctorally prepared” (through whatever means or credential).

So I guess I am to tell my students, you are “autonomous practitioners” in theory, but in the healthcare system at large you are recognized as subservient to anyone who holds a piece of paper that is recognized by the provincial government as some sort of health professional and wants to employ you. It is rather hard to promote a positive role for nursing when practitioners who actually practice magical healthcare and have US based quackademic qualifications are regulated above Canadian nurses. Maybe I’ll get ahead of the game and just set up a course in magical healthcare for nurses for our next undergraduate curriculum revision.

Sad times indeed, and I do wonder what the status of the RN will actually become over the next few years. Looks like reversion to a technical role in support of other health professionals is well on the cards, with the odd restricted role for specialist advanced practice (where the system is under-resourced). So, what happened to the CNAs stated aim to “strengthen nursing and the Canadian health system?”