Student Summer Scholars


Understanding the Application of Polarity Thinking by Nurses in a Clinical Setting

First Advisor

Evelyn Clingerman


polarity thinking, nursing, grounded theory, polarities, coding, transcriptions


Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Polarity Thinking is a way of thought that helps people decide between problems that can be solved and polarities that can be leveraged. The purpose of our research was to understand the experiences of nurses who have purposefully applied polarity thinking to their clinical settings. We interviewed fourteen nurses who attended the Interprofessional Institute of Polarity Thinking in Health Care, the national leader in polarity education in healthcare. Thus, it was logical for us to collect data from current nurses who intentionally applied polarity thinking in their daily work settings. We chose participants from a large database of nurses who have attended at least eight hours of education from the Polarity Thinking Institute. We audio recorded all interviews and sent them to a transcription agency. After we received the transcribed interviews we used constant comparative analysis coding, in which we read all interviews and used a back and forth process to guide further data collection.

Our findings revealed three broad themes as we analyzed our data: (1) Process of knowing about polarity thinking; (2), practice using polarity thinking; and (3) deepening the knowledge of polarity thinking.

Data reveals that these nurses felt more comfortable and gained confidence in applying polarity thinking when they had resources such as co-workers and leadership to support in learning and using polarity thinking. One consequence associated with gaining confidence is the intentional use of polarity thinking as the nurses approached problems in their work settings. As intentional use increased, the nurses identified specific polarities that impacted their professional work.