Speaker to focus on women as healers in ‘Wild Onion Nurse’ talk

"Wild Onion Nurse: Women as Healers in Traditional and Contemporary Societies," a presentation, will be held noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 19, in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library on the University Park campus of Penn State. The presentation, which is sponsored by the Interinstitutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge and the University Libraries, is free and open to the public, and can also be viewed online.

Speaker Judy Schaefer, a registered nurse and poet, will read from her 2010 Radcliffe publication, “Wild Onion Nurse,” highlighting a journey that follows the tradition of women as healers; sometimes ancient and sometimes contemporary, while reflecting upon the “indigenous self.” In a description of her talk, Schaefer notes, "In the most recent past, the image of the professional nurse was starched and crystal white. Traditionally, the nursing student was taught to be a 'catalyst' and to bring about clinical change without experiencing self-change. 'Do not get overly close to your patient on a personal basis,' as is commonly said. But this logically and intuitively turns out to be false on both sides; the nurse and the patient are both changed in the clinical process. The connection is soft and yet strong, like a spider's web brought forth from the earth. To move from the traditional perspective is complex. We’ve had more experience than we consciously know. Human beings are ancient. We’ve been connected to the earth for a long time."

Schaefer, who is a member of The Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine, finds that poetry provides a way to produce art and to observe beyond the patient. She will read nine of her poems that demonstrate connection to the earth, to the indigenous-self and to each other in the healing process. Her hope is that these poems will demonstrate another way of knowing about pain and suffering, which are not the same. She continues, "We can have pain and 'feel better.' We can move on. We can continue to help each other as we grow within ourselves." Judy argues that as we approach and discover our indigenous-self, we ourselves find healing.

“Wild Onion Nurse” is Schaefer's most recent book. She edited the first biographical and autobiographical work of English speaking nurse-poets, “The Poetry of Nursing: Poems and Commentaries of Leading Nurse-Poets” and co-edited, with Cortney Davis, the first international anthology of creative writing by nurses, “Between the Heartbeats.” Schaefer has been published in journals such as “Academic Medicine,” “The American Journal of Nursing” and “The Lancet” and is poetry co-editor for “Pulse: voices from the heart of medicine.” She can be reached at jschaefer@mindspring.com.

The presentation is part of an ongoing series highlighting the importance of indigenous knowledge. For more information on ICIK, including links to past presentations on the speaker series.

For questions about the physical access provided, contact Helen Sheehy 814-863-1347 or hms2@psu.edu in advance of your participation.

Last Updated February 12, 2014