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Phyllis S. Hansell

Title: Nursing Science: Driving the Nursing Profession into the Future

Phyllis S. Hansell

Seton Hall University, USA


Dr. Phyllis S. Hansell has been an educator, researcher and an administrator for more than three decades. She is a graduate of the Mount Sinai Hospital school of Nursing and holds graduate degrees in nursing at Columbia University, New York. Currently she is a professor in the Graduate Nursing Department at Seton Hall University where she served as the Dean of the College from 1999-2014. Previously she served as Director of Nursing Research at Sloan Kettering in New York City where she developed a model for research utilization. Her program of research has focused on families of children with life threatening  illnesses which as been funded by the National Institute for Nursing Research and the National Cancer Institute. Her publications are numerous and she currently serves as a reviewer for Nursing Research and the Journal of Nursing Measurement. She is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and is a Fellow, and Distinguished Practitioner in the National Academy of Nursing, National Academies of Practice.


The profession of Nursing has arrived in the 21st century on so many levels, which has included recognition by the Carnegie Foundation as a Profession. Although internally members of the profession considered nursing to be a profession, the world beyond including other health professions has viewed us as coming up short particularly in the area of the scholarly scientific foundation. Nightingale the founder of modern nursing was first a statistician and ten a nurse who used her knowledge as a statistician to analyze and solve patient care problems. Unfortunately, the Nightingale Schools of nursing were closely associated with hospitals who soon took ownership over these schools. Removed from the context of higher education nursing last sight of the scientific foundation for practice that was part of Nightingale’s vision.

Moving fast forward 100 years around 1960 nursing is beginning to take hold in institutions of higher education where educated nurses began to conceptualize the scientific underpinnings of the profession. It was the during the 1980’s when educated nurses began to engage in clinical nursing research  with the aim to improve patient care outcomes which led to first the National Center for Nursing Research and then the National Institute for Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health.

Nursing now possesses a credible scholarly scientific foundation to guide patient care and optimal patient care outcomes, which has literally paved the way for Evidenced Based Care, which is using the best of nursing science to advance care. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act the focus is acutely on patient care outcomes which now imposes financially penalizes hospitals for adverse patient outcomes and readmissions to the hospital.  In tandem with the growth of Magnet designated Hospitals, nurses are focused on the using the best scientific evidence to guide nursing care.  Continuous assessment and measurement of patient care outcomes has become closely aligned with the standard of patient care. Therefore, it is not enough to use the best evidence, but rather to always measure the effect of nursing care within its unique context.  Therefore, following the wisdom of Nightingale measure of patient outcomes and associated costs have become standard of care at leading healthcare facilities where EBP has become the standard of care.

The forces that have aligned include several including: higher education of nurses; the complexity of patient care; increased lifespan; growth of nursing research; terminal practice degree in nursing; and the stature of the nursing profession. Nursing’s comping of age has much to do with the education its scientific foundation that is bringing the profession front and center as a key member of the intra professional health care team