Reflections on our 2023 Virtual Nursology Theory Week!

Posted on, April 10, 2023

The Virtual Nursology Theory Week was once again – a resounding success! As the detailed comments below demonstrate, the conference offered a new kind of experience that was enlightening and inspiring! Attendees ranged from scholars embarking on new careers in their PhD programs, to nurse scholars with many decades of experience of teaching, research, and theory development.

From PhD student, Kemmarie Beal:

VNTW was a fantastic experience both as a first-time attendee and presenter. I have attended many conferences throughout my years of professional practice. Yet, I never saw myself as a presenter on any of these platforms–VNTW has changed that! I am grateful I was in the midst of scholarly exchanges, learning from scholars in development, long recognized scholars and newly recognized scholars whom have been long-time governors of knowledge development and dissemination. Presentations were memorable! The genuine exchanges in the closing panel discussion were rich in content, the authenticity palpable!

From nurse ethicist and thought leader, Marsha Fowler:

What I liked, no loved, about this gathering was the diversity of voices, the authenticity of the conversation, but more than that—there was a meaningfulness and consequentialness to the research, the interchange, the discussions. So often conferences promote trivial and banal research and are a vehicle for notches on a CV. This wasn’t that. It seemed to me to be real engagement without artifice, without the usual white posturing and pretense, without the pall of competition and academic reward agendas.

From Donna Shambley-Ebron, PhD, Associate Professor Emerita

The five day conference was truly an enriching experience with a diverse array of presentations. Research presentations using various methodologies as well as  theoretical and philosophical discussions were presented on each day of the conference. I was especially pleased that the scholarship of nurses of color was prominent throughout the conference. The closing panel on the future of nursing theory was especially thought provoking and exciting as we move forward in advancing our discipline through new theoretical development. The virtual format made it easy to attend the presentations in which I was most interested. I look forward to attending the conference again in 2024. 

Many more attendees shared comments on the program evaluation form. Here is a list of “favorite things” about this conference:

  • Hearing Marlaine Smith talk about her theory, and also the initial “Scholars of Color” panel
  • Learning about theory development using a variety of nursing theories.
  • The opportunities to interact with others who attended the conference, including two follow ups for future collaborations
  • Connecting to amazing scholars who are incredibly insightful. I thought it was all done really well. While technology has its shortcomings, I loved being able to attend virtually as I would not have been able to attend if the conference required much travel for an in-person meeting. So I really appreciated the accessibility of the online format.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the diverse perspectives and dialogue.. The technical assistance person was exceptionally patient and helpful.
  • Learning and seeing how nursing theory is being utilized across nursing through practice and research.
  • Hearing new younger evolving nurse theorists,researchers, clinicians and scientists.
  • You make us all feel worthy of scholarly attention and regard. I simply wish I had more time to devote to it.
  • Perspectives from People of Color was informative and important.
Closing panel (clockwise top left: Peggy Chinn, Sally Thorne, Ismália De Souza, Lucinda Canty: “Looking Back to Look Forward”

There were a few comments related to the Digital program guide we use – Guidebook! Guidebook is a rich resource that contains the names, brief bios, and slides for all of the presenters. Guidebook also includes the names of all attendees with links to connect with others who are attending! Best of all, if you register in advance, you receive access to Guidebook a couple of weeks in advance of the conference, with access to all of the information available so you can make plans to attend sessions that particularly interest you. Plus you retain Guidebook on your mobile device for many months after the conference! So for future conferences, watch for early access to Guidebook and plan to make use of it to develop and expand your network related to your own scholarly interests!

Yes! There will be future conferences! We will announce all details here on Nursology and on the Nursology Theory website. Follow this blog to get the information as it emerges! The 2024 dates are set – March 21-25, 2024. Mark your calendar and plan to tune in!

Abstract submission open now through December 1st!

The theme for this year’s Virtual Nursology Theory conference will be “Creating Communities to Inspire Nursing Knowledge Development,” inspired by the work of four leading nurse theorists from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) – Dorothy Johnson (Behavioral Systems), Sr. Callista Roy (Adaptation), Betty Neuman (Systems Model), and Afaf Meleis (Transitions). As you develop your abstract, consider the networks of support that have influenced your ideas and reflect these influences in your submission.

Please use the abstract submission form to submit an abstract for the Virtual Nursing Theory Week to be held from March 16-20, 2023. Deadline for submission: December 1, 2022. Notification of status: December 31, 2022. Each session will be 30 minutes; we recommend 20 minutes to present plus 10 minutes for questions and discussion.

We will also have an ongoing poster session during the five days of the conference. Please indicate if you would like to be selected for a podium presentation, poster session, or either, depending on conference needs.

All presenters must register and attend the virtual event. If there are co-presenters, all presenters must register. Co-authors on a project, who will not be attending the VNTW, can be listed on the abstract and thanked in an acknowledgement, but they will not be listed as presenters on the conference program that is published in Guidebook. On this form, please only list co-presenters who will be registering and attending the VNTW.

Note that you need to have all the information compiled before filling out this form; once you start filling out the information you need to complete and submit. It is not possible to save the form and return to it later to finish.

Abstract submission form

In Memoriam: Melody Norris Waller

It is with great sadness that we share the untimely death on February 6th of our friend and colleague, Melody Norris Waller, PhD, RN, who was serving on the planning team for the 2022 Virtual Nursing Theory Week that starts on March 17th. Melody was an Assistant Professor and Director of the newly established Dr. Margaret A. Newman Center for Nursing Theory at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing. She brought her vibrant, dedicated spirit and passion to the planning of the conference, and to furthering the vision for nursing that Margaret Newman established as a guiding light for the development of nursing knowledge. I recently asked Melody about how she knew Dr. Newman, and her eyes lit up as she shared her experience of listening to Dr. Newman talk about her ideas, and how much she was inspired by Dr. Newman’s vision. Melody has left this earth far too early; her potential as a nursing leader and scholar was just emerging.  But her presence will live on in the hearts and minds of the many lives she touched. There will be an empty seat at the virtual conference table, but her memory, and the inspiration that she conveyed to everyone around her, will remain with us all.

Melody Norris Waller

Here are reflections from others who serve on the planning team:

Marlaine Smith (former dean, Florida Atlantic University): “I served on two committees with Melody: One was the Newman Center Advisory Board and the second was a subcommittee of this Board to plan the April 21-22 Newman Dialogue in Memphis.  She led both of those committees. While I didn’t know her well in the conventional sense, I believe we can sense another’s pattern. I experienced her as a gifted leader….she listened intently to others and incorporated their ideas into planning; she was curious and open to all possibilities; she was committed to the task at hand (wasn’t just going through the motions) and that was evident in her way of leading/being.  She was very organized, kept the group on point and communicated with all of us.

Dottie Jones (Director of the Marjory Gordon Program for Knowledge Development and Clinical Reasoning, Boston College Connell School of Nursing):  I first met Dr Melody Waller late last spring after she was appointed to lead the Endowed Newman Center at UT . My role was to work with Melody and begin actualizing the Center’s mission and goals, and inaugurate a Board of Advisors to guide the implementation of the Center and the advancement nursing theory, especially Newman’s theory of Health as Expanding Consciousness. Melody was deeply committed to this new role and as we met over the summer she worked tirelessly with University Leadership as well as  the Dean of the School of Nursing to accomplish many important outcomes including the convening of the inaugural meeting of the Advisory Board for the Center this past fall. .

During our meetings. Melody often talked about her deep commitment to nursing theory and her interest in studying issues of diversity and equity in underserved populations. She was excited about the potential of her new role in helping her bridge  both her academic and personal goals. She was excited to be working with HEC scholars who had been part of Margaret’s network to expand nursing theory on a global  level. Throughout the time I spent with Melody I found her to be knowledgeable, dedicated, committed, and selfless in her determination to provide the needed leadership so important to advancing nursing science and its potential impact on the health and well becoming for all. In the short time I worked with Melody, it was clear that she was recognizing her own potential as a scholar and a leader. It was wonderful to see this unfolding occur and anticipate new possibilities for nursing moving forward.

I will miss Melody’s physical presence among us. But I know her presence will be felt as the work of the Center moves forward.

Leslie Nicoll, (Editor of CIN Computers, Informatics, Nursing, and conference planner and manager for the Nursing Theory Conference)-  “My clearest and most personal memory is when we had our Zoom planning meeting for the VNTW in December. She had all her Christmas pillows and some decorations around her. I commented that she was so “ahead of the game” with decorating (I think the meeting was around Dec 9) and Melody said how much she loves Christmas, being with her family and friends, and decorating her home to entertain everyone.”

The following tribute was provided to us by Leigh Ann Roman at UTHSC:

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing has lost a bright light in nursing education with the untimely passing of Assistant Professor Melody Waller, PhD, RN, who was recently appointed as Director of the college’s Dr. Margaret A. Newman Center for Nursing Theory.

A native of Chattanooga, Dr. Waller joined the College of Nursing faculty in 2009 and earned her PhD in Nursing Science at UTHSC in 2016. She served as the RN to BSN program coordinator for several years and most recently led the college task force charged with seeking National League for Nursing (NLN) Center of Excellence status. The college was designated as an NLN Center of ExcellenceTM in the category of Enhancing Student Learning and Professional Development for a four-year term: 2021-2025.

“Melody was one of a kind and will be greatly missed,” said College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-Bc, FAANP. “I hired Melody as a research nurse when I first joined the college as a faculty member and saw her tremendous growth over her years with us. She was a tremendous faculty member, leader, and educator. But most importantly, Melody was an exceptional person with a beautiful spirit.”

Dr. Waller died Feb. 6. She was 43. An endowed scholarship in her name is being established in the College of Nursing to benefit a student pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). The link to contribute to that fund is

“Melody coached and mentored many students while they were enrolled in the CON in her unique lighthearted way,” said Assistant Professor Trina Barrett, DNP, RN, CNE, CCRN. “Her commitment to students did not end at graduation. She continually helped former students to grow in her beloved specialty area of women’s health. Personally, I consider Melody’s most significant impact on the nursing college is how she embodied inclusivity and camaraderie among students, faculty, and staff. Melody will be greatly missed by all.” 

Dr. Waller’s honors include receiving the Student Government Association Executive Council Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011 and 2013 and the Johnson & Johnson/American Association of Colleges of Nursing Minority Nurse Faculty Scholarship Award in 2013 and 2014.

Assistant Professor Crystal Walker, PhD, DNP, FNP-C, who met Dr. Waller as a student, recalls meeting with her after doing poorly on a test in her class. “I remember crying during that meeting because I was so disappointed in myself, but I also remember smiling and laughing a lot because Melody found a way to squeeze in a few jokes to keep my spirits up.”

“Throughout my nursing program, she coached me, advocated for me, and mentored me to finish strong,” Dr. Walker said. “I graduated No. 1 in my nursing school class, and I owe it all to the belief that Melody had in me. I knew she was rooting for me, and I wanted to make her proud.”

When Dr. Walker joined the College of Nursing faculty in 2016, “she showed me the ropes of nursing academia, and she inspired me along the way to be more like her,” she said. “When she dedicated herself to something, she was all in. I hope to be just half the person Melody was.”

In addition to her role within the college, Dr. Waller held several positions in community and professional organizations. These included service as a national board member for One-By-One Ministries, which trains volunteers from local churches to mentor expectant parents or parents with new babies. She was also vice president of the Beta Theta At Large chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society and was co-chair of the Minority Health Research Interest Group of the Southern Nursing Research Society. Dr. Waller’s research efforts were directed toward women’s health and improving the sexual and reproductive health status of African American women.

Nursing Instructor Alise Farrell, MSN, RN, taught a course with Dr. Waller. “I worked with her, taught with her, was taught by her, laughed, prayed, and cried with her,” Farrell said. “Her passion for others and for nursing will go on through so many that she touched.”

Professor Mona Newsome Wicks, PhD, RN, FAAN, was Dr. Waller’s department chair and her mentor in her PhD program.

“Dr. Melody Waller positively influenced the lives of so many people who walked with her during her professional journey. She encouraged, gently pushed, and challenged students and colleagues to be their very best and explore possibilities,” Dr. Wicks said.

“It was a gift to see her thrive in her new role this past year, developing and promoting our Margaret Newman Center of Excellence. The position was a perfect match for her talents because Melody could build relationships and get things done – work critical to creating new initiatives. In addition, she was willing to take strategic risks for the good of others – students, colleagues, the college, and the Margaret Newman Center of Excellence. Dr. Melody Waller will be sorely missed and forever remembered by those who knew and loved her radiant spirit and encompassing smile.”

Virtual Nursing Theory Week: Sponsorship and Registration

The Virtual Nursing Theory Week will be held from March 17-21, 2022. This will be a five day, virtual event held via Zoom with a mix of panel presentations, knowledge sessions, and poster presentations. The preliminary schedule will be posted soon.

The registration fee for the VNTW 2022 is $159 USD. This is a fixed price; there are no early bird, student, or other discounts. By keeping the price low, we hope to maximize attendance at the conference.

Registration is open now! Click here to register.


We have something new this year–individual sponsorships! Whether a presenter or attendee, you can be sponsor, if you wish. Individuals may create a sponsorship (or more than one!) which will cover the cost of registration for another VNTW participant. This can be someone you know, such as a student or early career scholar. Or, you can opt to create a scholarship that will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to people who apply for these funds. The cost of an individual sponsorship is $159, the price of an individual registration. If you have the means, we hope you will consider sponsoring a participant. You can create a sponsorship quickly and easily on the registration form: Please consider paying it forward with a sponsorship!

To Apply for a Sponsorship

You can request to be considered for a sponsorship by completing this brief application. We are working to keep this process low barrier and relatively easy, but we do ask that you keep the following in mind:

  • Preference will be given to students and early career scholars. If you are a student (or recent graduate), please make sure to include this information.
  • If you will be submitting an abstract for presentation (knowledge session or poster), please make sure to include this information.
  • If you receive a sponsorship, you will be expected to attend all five days of the conference (to the best of your ability).
  • If you have resources through your school or institution that would pay for/reimburse your registration for the VNTW, please do not apply for a sponsorship. These funds are intended for individuals who are “paying out of pocket” and have an identified need.
  • Success of this program depends on the number of sponsorships that are received from individuals—we cannot guarantee a specific number of recipients (if any) who will receive funds. If you are selected (and your registration is paid for) you will receive an email confirmation. You will also receive the name and email of your sponsor, so you can send a thank you note.
  • If you register for the VNTW and subsequently receive a sponsorship, your original registration will be refunded, minus a $10 credit card fee.

Call for Abstracts: Now Open!

The Call for Abstracts for the VNTW 2022 is now open! Abstracts will be accepted from today until 11:45 pm EST on November 15, 2021. Selected presenters will be notified by early December, 2021. At least one presenter must register and attend the virtual event. If there are co-presenters, all presenters must register. Co-authors on a project, who will not be attending the VNTW, can be listed on the abstract and thanked in an acknowledgement, but they will not be listed as presenters on the conference program that is published in Guidebook.

There are two types of presentations for the VNTW 2022: Knowledge Sessions and Poster Presentations.

For a Knowledge Session, each presenter will have a 30 minute block for their session. They will be able to share content verbally and visually (by sharing their screen). We ask that each presenter plan on 20 minutes to present, with 8-10 minutes for questions and discussion.

For a Poster Presentation, there will a dedicated video channel in Guidebook for the posters. Each presenter will be asked to prepare a brief (approximately 5 minutes) video to introduce their topic and presentation. Attendees will be able to watch the videos in advance of the poster session. Then, during the dedicated Poster Session during the VNTW 2022, Zoom will be set up with breakout rooms, one for each poster presenter. Attendees will be able to move through the breakout rooms and chat with the presenters who will be sharing their poster on the screen.

We are committed to having both types of sessions be equally valuable and value added for all attendees.

Click here to submit your abstract for the VNTW 2022.

Please note that you should have all your materials ready (ie, title, abstract, contact information) when you start completing the form. Once you begin, you must complete and submit the form–or abandon it and start over. It is not possible to save the form and return to it later to complete.

Questions? Send us a message through the contact form. Thanks!

VNTW 2022: A World of No Boundaries

Memphis, Tennessee is the local site for the Virtual Nursing Theory Week 2022 conference. Memphis was the home of Dr. Margaret Newman–she was born there, graduated from high school, and received her baccalaureate nursing degree (1962) from UT College of Nursing. She also studied in California (MS, UCSF, 1964) and New York (PhD, NYU, 1971) and worked at NYU, Penn State, and the University of Minnesota. Shortly after her retirement in 1999, in 2004 she returned to Memphis and lived there until her death in 2018. Even though she was retired, during this time she was active in advancing nursing theory, education, theory, research, and practice through her presentations and publications. She made deep connections to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing, which has established the Margaret Newman Center and an endowed chair in her name.

Margaret Newman

Recognizing Newman’s significant contributions to nursing theory, research, and scholarship over the course of her life and career, the VNTW 2022 will be using her article, “A World of No Boundaries” as the overarching theme for the conference. This article was published in Advances in Nursing Science in 2003 (vol. 26, pp. 240-245) and while it will be almost 20 years old at the time of the VNTW 2022, its message is timeless. Wolters-Kluwer and Mercedes Simoncelli, publisher of ANS have made the article available for free from now until the end of March, 2022. We are grateful for their support.

If you are planning to participate in the VNTW 2022, either as a presenter or attendee, we encourage you to take some time to read “A World of No Boundaries.” We believe this will help orient you to the conceptual thinking of the conference, as well as provide a nice introduction to Newman’s work. You can learn more about her theory, Health as Expanding Consciousness at, which might also be useful to you in preparing for the VNTW 2022.

Note that the VNTW 2022 is not about Margaret Newman exclusively, nor is it a Margaret Newman conference. We are just recognizing her roots and lifelong connections to Memphis, which is the local site for this local/virtual event. We did something similar last year, remembering Rosemary Ellis and her connections to FPB at Case Western Reserve University. We just ask that people be mindful of Margaret Newman and her work as they prepare to attend the VNTW 2022, either as a presenter or attendee.

2022 Nursing Theory Conference – and beyond!

We are excited to report that Leslie Nicoll, continuing as our conference manager, and has assembled a planning team to form the details for the 2022 conference! Going forward, we will combine virtual and on-site activities, with the aim to uplift students and scholars who are dedicated to the ongoing development of nursing knowledge. Each year we will feature a local site where there are important historical roots for the development of nursing theory, and nurse scholars who are engaged in ongoing scholarship in the discipline.

The 2022 virtual component of the conference (Virtual Nursing Theory Week, VNTW 2022) will be held from March 17-21, 2022 with online plenary and knowledge sessions scheduled over the 5 days of the conference. The local site will be the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Nursing, highlighting the newly established Margaret Newman Center to promote the ongoing development of nursing scholarship. There will be a local social event at the College of Nursing for those who can attend, to coincide with, but not conflict with the virtual schedule.

Margaret Newman Dialogue Room, UTHSC College of Nursing

A call for abstracts will be posted here soon — so watch for that announcement coming shortly! In 2021 we featured 66 breakout sessions selected from the abstracts submitted — each and every one of which was interesting and inspiring for all who attended! This year we have renamed the “breakout” sessions–since they are not concurrent–and are calling them knowledge sessions. There will be time for 42 knowledge sessions during the conference in addition to three plenary/general/panel sessions. There will also be a virtual poster session as part of VNTW 2022.

In 2023, the local site will be Los Angeles, where there are a number of nursing programs with a long and significant history of nursing theory development. Diane Breckenridge is leading the team to organize local social and networking opportunities that coincide with the virtual conference! The tentative dates for that conference are March 16-20, 2023.

Meet the Nursing Theory Conference Logo!

The launch of this website also marks the launch of a plan to sustain an annual conference dedicated to advancing the development of nursing theory. An important component in this process was the development of a visual symbol – a logo – that represents what these conferences are all about!

Our logo was designed by Christian Tedjasukmana, a nurse, artist, and designer who is married to our management team member, Brandon Brown. Christian researched a number of symbolic meanings associated with the process of development of nursing knowledge and shared that his final design was inspired by a combination of meanings embedded within ancient spiritual imagery, Roman mythology, and color symbolism.

The logo reflects the Roman god Janus, who had two faces – one looking to the past and the other looking to the future.  The two heads not only represent the honoring of past knowledge and progress toward future enlightenment, but it also represents the unity of like-minds working together to advance our discipline. The red flame arising from the two heads represents the ever-evolving insights that arise from the unity of minds – the life, knowledge, energy, and emotion that illuminates and informs both the insights and understandings that are expressed in nursing knowledge.

The two heads are set upon a golden spiral background with the deep yellow signifying both knowledge and inspiration — with the two spirals going both in and out — symbolizing the continual giving and receiving of knowledge. Spirals are among the most ancient and universal symbols representing evolution, progress, learning, and growing. Spirals also represent the cycle of life, cycles of both time and nature, cosmic forces, and the dynamic aspect of life

Thank you to Christian – your thoughtful approach to the development of our logo is an inspiring model for all of us in developing nursing knowledge for the future!