To really care for our health, we must have a more holistic healthcare system that takes into account not only intervention but also prevention, not only the technical and scientific aspects of medicine, which are certainly important, but also the vital importance of the social and relational aspects of wellness and healing. Our health depends on good nutrition, access to clean water, education, and it is harmed by poverty, discrimination, an unhealthy natural environment, violence, stress, and other factors inherent in cultures that orient to the domination system. Indeed, stress is a major detriment to both our physical and mental health, and yet relations where one person or group dominates and others are dominated are stressful, and all too often traumatic.

What is required is a cultural transformation: a transformation to cultures where caring for people and nature is truly valued socially and economically. Because care is basic to our humanity, basic not only to human survival, but to human fulfillment and development.

For this to come about we have to overcome the devaluation of care as “soft” or “feminine.” It requires that we become aware of the domination elements in cultures, as well as in our healthcare systems. To do this, we have to understand core components of the domination configuration:

  1. The first is a structure of rigid top-down rankings, in both the family and the state or tribe, and all institutions in between. This is the template we inherited for our health care system, where the doctor “gives orders” that both nurses and patients are expected to unquestioningly obey.
  2. The second is the rigid ranking of the male half of humanity over the female half. Once again, we inherited this ranking of male over female in our healthcare system, which is why nursing, a primarily female profession focused on care, has not been given full respect and value.
  3. The third core component is abuse and violence. Every society has some abuse and violence. But in cultures orienting to the domination model, we find the institutionalization and even idealization of abuse and violence, as is necessary to maintain hierarchies of domination – man over woman, man over man, race over race, religion over religions, tribe over tribe, nation over nation, and so on. Today, abuse and violence against people who are physically, mentally, or emotionally challenged is generally no longer accepted, but abuse and violence are still found in some health care systems.

The partnership model has a very different core configuration:

  1. The first core component consists of democratic and egalitarian structures in our societies and our health care organizations and institutions. Health is directly related to people’s access to good nutrition, education, and a healthy environment. So health is not just a matter of a good healthcare system, though that of course is vital.
  1. The second core component of partnership systems is equal partnership between women and men, rather than the ranking in hierarchies of domination. And with this, comes giving real value to the work of care, be it by women or men.
  2. The third core component of the partnership system is that abuse and violence is not culturally accepted, so there is not the chronic damage these do to people’s health, as there is in domination systems.

The books, articles, and courses that follow discuss how to apply partnership principles to health and healthcare.

Books & Articles

The Power of Partnership: Seven Relationships that Will Change Your Life


“The Power of Partnership is the right medicine for virtually everything that ails our society and planet right now.”
~Christine Northrup, MD, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

“In this wonderful book, Riane Eisler gives us the tools to transform our lives and our culture to promote a more sustainable, just, and thriving way of life.”
~John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America

Winner of the Nautilus award as best self-help book of the year, The Power of Partnership is a hands-on guide to personal and social healing. Each chapter provides an ACTION CHECKLIST of First Steps, Next Steps, and Going Further.

Buy the Book

Transforming Interprofessional Partnerships: A New Framework for Nursing and Partnership-Based Health Care


2014 Winner American Journal of Nursing Book Award

Transforming Interprofessional Partnerships: A New Framework for Nursing and Partnership-Based Healthcare provides nurses and other healthcare professionals tools to reexamine the current state of interdisciplinary partnerships and build a more effective, caring, and sustainable health care system, Riane Eisler, systems scientist and human rights attorney, and Teddie Potter, nurse advocate for collaborative care models and inclusivity and diversity in health care, present a structure to shift health care relationships from hierarchies of domination and isolated professions to high-functioning, collaborative teams ready to be full partners with patients, families, communities, and one another. This comprehensive text will benefit nurses by defining and illustrating full partnership in practice, education and research to improve communication and interprofessional collaboration. This book was selected as a winner of the prestigious American Journal of Nursing Book Awards in 2014, in the Professional Development and Issues category.

  • User-friendly curriculum and guide for professional development for practicing nurses and other healthcare professionals
  • The only interprofessional partnership text written form the nursing perspective, providing a model for partnership with patients and other professionals
  • The only text the provides a grounded theory of partnership-also covering partnership with the environment, partnership policy, and partnership at a global level

Buy the Book

Daniel J. Pesut, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, ACC, past president of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, is professor of nursing, Population Health and Systems Cooperative Unit and the Katherine R. and C. Walton Lillehei Chair in Nursing Leadership at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing. He is also director of the Katharine J. Densford International Center for Nursing Leadership.


How can we end cultures of domination and operationalize cultures of partnership in healthcare?

Julie Kennedy Oehlert RN, BSN

Chief Administrative Officer of Ambulatory Services Associate Chief Experience Officer University California San Diego. Julie represents the voice of the patient at UAMC, collaborating with the UAMC health-care team to ensure high-quality, patient and family-centered care.

This 90-minute interactive online seminar is periodically offered for leaders in healthcare organizations who want to improve their ability to make the business case for the implementation of interprofessional practice and patient partnership in care. Facilitated by Julie Kennedy Oehlert, Vice President of Patient Experience for the University of Arizona Health, a Certified Caring Economy Community Advocate, and a national expert in implementing cultural transformation.