“You cannot practice anything without some sort of theoretical base,” says internationally recognized nursing scholar Jacqueline Fawcett, whose body of research has made a lasting impact on the nursing profession. Fawcett has spent decades exposing the “why” of patient care—the theoretical underpinnings of a nurse’s actions. Because of her work, illness is seen in a more complete context, which leads to more complete care.
It hasn’t always been easy. The nursing profession has an innate resistance to theory, which Fawcett has overcome through sheer tenacity. She’s taught students at every level of nursing education for more than 45 years. She has advised countless organizations and hospitals, changing the way nurses are trained. And her most recent book—one of hundreds of scholarly publications—focuses explicitly on translating conceptual models to real-world practice.
Because of Fawcett’s research, nurses don’t simply perform procedures; they understand them. They see patients as individuals—not as problems—and have context for treatment. Fawcett has improved thousands of lives, and her advice to those following in her footsteps is simple. “Do what calls to you,” she says. “And be persistent.”