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M Isabel Armendáriz Azcárate: "The important thing about thesis is that the topic chosen is a contribution to society".

The Chilean nurse and midwife has made her doctoral thesis at the University, under the direction of Dr. Maribel Saracíbar, professor emeritus of the School Nursing, and Dr. Juan Fernando Sellés, Senior Associate Professor of the School of Philosophy and Letters, around the "meaning of spiritual care of the person, in the framework of the interpersonal relationship of the nurse and the patient".

14 | 06 | 2023

What motivated you to start a doctoral thesis ?

When I completed the Master's Degree in Marriage and Family at the University of Navarra, the doctor, Don Alfredo Rodriguez, full member who examined my defense of work end of master's degree, encouraged me to continue studying the topic dimension of the spirituality of the human person. I liked the proposal so much that I did not hesitate to continue researching for the discipline of nursing; given the gap I had observed in my years as a clinical nurse and professor, it seemed that this care was not being given by nurses, and it is such essential and necessary attention in the care of the sick person.

Why is there a need for research in Nursing?

Nursing is the science that takes care of the human person, so how not to investigate about it? It is part core topic of the work in the profession.

Was it always on your mind to make a thesis or was it a decision you made over time?

Good question! It was a decision I made over time. As a clinical nurse and professor I wondered where the spiritual needs of the patient were. When I was called from the Universidad de los Andes in Santiago de Chile to help in the training of future nurses, my motivation to find an answer became more and more intense, because the responsibility was deeper and deeper.

What is the most difficult part of doing a doctoral thesis ?

The whole process of realization of a doctoral thesis is difficult. The important thing is to be clear that the chosen topic is passionate and is a very necessary contribution to the humanization of society, for the good of the human person and the common good.

Let's talk about your thesis , it focuses on a different area of care: spiritual care, why?

Spirituality is a component core topic of human life and one of the main factors associated with good health outcomes. Its care includes visible and explicit activities and interventions, favoring evaluative discussions in clinical settings that include spiritual concerns, which will enhance comprehensive care.

As I went deeper into the study of the human person, in its physical, psychic, spiritual and social dimensions, I realized that it was necessary to consider an interdisciplinary dialogue between the Science of Nursing and the Transcendental Anthropology of the philosopher Leonardo Polo, which has as its background the tripartite vision of the person, corporeal nature or "received life", human essence or "added life" and act of being or "life staff" or spiritual life. I consider that the spiritual dimension is the foundation of the human person, it is the person. Therefore, the nurse must give the patient care of his spirituality before, during and after the disease. 

If you ask yourself "who you are" you will enter your intimacy, in that place staff that only you can enter, in your spirit. There you will find three perfections or transcendentals or roots: free coexistence, knowledge and love staff. Spirituality grows with the development of the virtues of intelligence and will with concrete acts where these are manifested.

It seems then that the care, indeed, goes beyond

The nurse cares for the patient in circumstances of special suffering and crisis, and promotes his growth and perfection in love, acceptance and giving. From this point, the nurse will be in a position to take care of his spiritual needs, helping him to continue living a fuller life staff and, consequently, more in accordance with his nature. Moreover, in this way, it will contribute to the humanization of discipline and, consequently, of society.

Spirituality integrates all dimensions, the rational, the emotional. In this dimension of transcendence, we find happiness, the meaning of existence, of suffering, of pain, of joy, from which others arise such as smiling, kindness, understanding, compassion, acceptance of the other's needs, acceptance of the care that the nurse appreciates from the patient, from there arises the interpersonal relationship.

How important is the interpersonal relationship between nurse and patient in this realm of the spiritual?

The nurse is a person as well as the patient, both are a "who". It is in this interpersonal nurse-patient relationship where there is a free coexistence between the two, a knowledge staff , an acceptance, a gift of each one. This allows the nurse to deliver her care to the patient, not only physical, psychic and social, but also a spiritual care, allowing the nurse to help the patient in the satisfaction of his natural and supernatural spiritual needs. The spirit is a reality that transcends the corporeal life and the nurse must be able to provide high quality spiritual care and Education to each patient, whether the patient is returning home or nearing the end of life.

What committee would you give to someone who is hesitating whether to start a thesis or not? 

Let him start it! Let him be aware that it will be a tremendous contribution to every patient in this world. You can sit in front of your computer and write down everything you have inside you, and then approach some expert and see the feasibility of starting a possible study at subject. It can be a very motivating start if you know that you are going to provide a solution or an improvement in society.