1. Section Editor(s): Carroll, V. Susan

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Animated children's films often provide us with both entertainment and life lessons; they teach us about unconditional love and acceptance (Shrek), cultural diversity (WALL-E), good and evil (101 Dalmatians), and life and death (The Lion King). These films provide children and the adults who care for them with a window into the rewards and challenges of daily life. Disney Pixar's latest film-Up-joins its predecessors in this genre with a fantastic tale about a cranky widower, Carl, an earnest little boy, Russell, and their amazing journey. In the early minutes of the film, we watch Carl and his wife Ellie meet, marry, work, and grow old together. Ellie dies before they achieve their lifelong dream of moving to Paradise Falls; lonely and alone, Carl becomes a solitary curmudgeon. Russell, an 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer trying to earn an "assisting the elderly" merit badge, enters Carl's life, and their adventure begins. The message underpinning their often-surreal adventure is that the real adventures of life are the relationships we have with other people. This message is one that should resonate with nurses because relationships are a part of our everyday professional life.

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Our professional relationships are threefold: the relationships with the patients for whom we care, the relationships with other healthcare providers with whom we work, and the very individual interpersonal relationship we have with the nursing profession itself. Much of what we believe today about creating and working in a caring and healing environment is built on Jean Watson's (1988) model of human care. Her belief that the interpersonal relationship between a nurse and a patient that occurs in each caring moment underscores our common human needs and connections. Like Carl and Russell, the healing adventure starts here.


Using Watson as a jumping-off point, advocates of relationship-based care include the relationships between members of the healthcare team as an integral part of the healing environment. The ability to deliver respectful, compassionate care requires all members of the team to establish and maintain healthy interpersonal relationships. "Quality care occurs in environments where the standard among members of the healthcare team is to respect and affirm each others' unique scope of practice and contribution" and "to create a culture of learning, mutual support, and creative problem-solving" (Koloroutis, 2004, p. 6). Carl and Russell very creatively constructed an airship using a house and 10,000 helium balloons and kept one another safe during their exploits.


Watson's model also rests on the assumption that as we take on our professional roles and personae, we each filter our personal life history and experiences and then integrate these into professional practice. Self-awareness related to our own values, beliefs, and other relationships shapes us professionally. Like Carl, we use our life experiences to mold our world view, both personally and professionally. Like Russell, we learn from our disappointments, challenges, and successes. As their wild South American adventure comes to a successful end and the relationship between Carl and Russell deepens, Carl awards Russell his final Explorer badge, the very same grape-soda badge Ellie gave Carl decades earlier. Carl's life history and experiences, and the self-awareness he gains in the course of the film, redefine his personal relationships and allow him to take on a new professional role as community volunteer.


As we look at the relationships that are a part of our working life, we need to remind ourselves of the people around us and the meaning they provide for our experiences. We are interconnected with our patients. For us, like it was for Carl and Russell, each day is a new adventure.




Koloroutis, M., (Ed). (2004). Relationship-based care: A model for transforming practice. Minneapolis, MN: Creative Health Care Management. [Context Link]


Watson, J. (1988). Nursing: Human science and human care. New York: National League for Nursing. [Context Link]