top of page

About Phyllis Kritek

To tell you about myself, I am sharing two narratives.  The first tells you why I started this blog, the second provides you with the rather impersonal third person voice biosketch I provide to clients who seek my consultation, training, facilitation or coaching services. You can read none, one or both.

Narrative 1:

When I identify who I am the list goes something like this: human, woman, mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, relative, friend AND then nurse, teacher, writer, consultant, trainer, coach…and some other things. No doubt that’s a value statement.

I am the third of eight children raised in Waterloo, Iowa. I have two daughters, four grandchildren, and divorced after 20 years of marriage. Before marriage and motherhood, I was a member of a religious order for 8 years (This shows I know how to make life-changing decisions….). I have been a nurse academic for much of my professional life where I created educational programs or lead them or both. For 13 years I took a break from academe and created a sole proprietorship providing conflict engagement services, primarily in health care settings. I continue to do this part time, electing now to have my primary investment of professional time and energy in coaching. I have published four books, three of them collections designed to tell nursing’s story in nursing’s voice.

None of these key identities point to starting a blog at the age of 78. It emerges from a conviction that the world is going through an amazing array of disruptions, creating the possibility for terror and destruction or hope and creative possibility. I am invested in the latter and believe I need to contribute to this hope and creative possibility in some fashion. I believe the disruptions are also unveiling a startling series of hypocrisies that call on each of us to turn toward or away from greater integrity.

Since I made the decision to start this blog, I participated in the global shifting created by Covid 19, most of which none of us fully understand though all of us, at some level, have experienced. I, like many, emerging from my Covid Cave, am still taking inventory of the changes that experience created for me. It will inform this blog.


There is an endless list of how the digital revolution changed everything, creating the possibility, theoretically, of “everyone talking to everyone”. This is manifest in the internet, a powerful resource, making this blog possible but also enabling a troublesome internet “dark” side engaged in terror and destruction.

I decided a blog invested in hope and creative possibility would at least be some modest antidote to this disturbing dark side, create some moments of light, so I am writing my reflections to that end. It is my hope that my blog postings will evoke reflections in those who read them, in some cases lead readers to share them. The iconic image that captures this for me is a lighthouse: I want to shed light in a steady and reliable way and if this sometimes guides others to safe harbor, that would bring me joy and satisfaction. That too is a creative possibility.

Narrative 2:

Phyllis Beck Kritek, RN, PhD, FAAN

Sole Proprietor: “courage”

Coaching Toward Wisdom Work

Conflict Engagement Specialist

Coaching, Consultation, Facilitation and Training

Current Biosketch

A nationally known nurse scholar and writer, Phyllis Beck Kritek has been sought as a speaker and consultant on coaching, conflict resolution, organizational development, leadership development, gender and diversity communications, generational relationships, and globalization.  Dr. Kritek has been frequently engaged as a facilitator by professional organizations and health care agencies seeking to create effective strategic changes.  She is noted for her unique ability to create conceptual maps that assist individuals and groups in grappling with challenges and dilemmas.

Dr. Kritek has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and in books. She has produced four books, two on subjects that have become widely associated with her professional foci:  conflict engagement and healing. Negotiating at an Uneven Table: Developing Moral Courage in Resolving Our Conflicts (published in 1994 by Jossey-Bass Publishers, with a second edition published in 2001) has been translated into Arabic and Spanish and is recognized as a resource on addressing conflicts among participants with uneven power bases. Dr. Kritek was on the leading edge of the shift to a healing focus in health care.  As part of her work in developing a doctoral curriculum focused on healing, she facilitated, edited, and was a contributor to the book, Reflections on Healing: A Central Nursing Construct (NLN Press, 1996).  Dr. Kritek has served on the editorial board of several nursing journals and was the Editor of Nursing Forumfrom 1989‑1992.

She co-edited with Mairead Hickey, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN, a third book, Change Leadership in Nursing: How Change Occurs in a Complex Hospital System (2012). This book is a compilation of nurse reported stories of institute-wide nursing practice transformation through change at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, furthering her commitment to giving nurses voice. Subsequently she served as a coeditor with Cathy Rick RN PhD(h), NEA-BC, FACHE, FAAN on a book entitled Realizing the Future of Nursing: VA Nurses Tell Their Story, an additional investment in giving nurses voice, with an initial distribution in April, 2015.

Phyllis Beck Kritek has deep roots in health care that began with her clinical career in mental health nursing and extended to include a variety of academic and professional leadership roles. Her initial scholarly work focused on nursing construct delineation through nursing diagnosis and the exploration of philosophies that undergird nursing scholarship. During her years as an academic, in addition to her extensive faculty governance engagement, Dr. Kritek held numerous distinguished positions including: Dean of Nursing at Marquette University, founding director of the Doctoral Program in Nursing and Director of the Center for Nursing Research at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; and Florence Thelma Hall Distinguished Professorship in Nursing and founding director of the doctoral program at the University of Texas School of Nursing at Galveston. She was a recipient of the Distinguished Nurse Alumna Award, University of Illinois College of Nursing in 2000.

Long recognized for her leadership in the national nursing community, Dr. Kritek is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (AAN), and has been a member of several professional organizations, where she has served in a variety of professional leadership roles. These include Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Community Health Accreditation Program, a Board Member of NLN, and a founding Board Member of the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA). She served as President of the Board of Trustees of the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), having also held offices as Vice President and Treasurer.  During her tenure at CGFNS, she was a participant in educational programs and negotiations in India and China as part of the Commission’s program development in these countries. She also served as Co-Chair of the Health Sector of the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution (SPIDR), and Coordinator of the Health Sector Conference Program. She is a past recipient of a Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship where she initiated her preparation and involvement in conflict engagement and conflict resolution.

Her involvement in international work has been as a consultant, speaker, educator, and group facilitator, providing services to health care communities in Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Australia, China and India. One of her most compelling international projects involved, in 2006, facilitation of portions of a WHO sponsored five-day workshop in Amman, Jordan attended by the deans of Iraq schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and dentistry and focused on enhancing existing health professions education in that country within the context of existing national challenges and violence.

The sole proprietorship “courage” was created by Phyllis Beck Kritek in 2003. Having provided many of the services of “courage” on a part-time basis for over 20 years, she resigned her academic position in order to dedicate herself full time to this professional initiative.  Convinced that constructive conflict engagement had “come of age” as an acknowledged need, particularly within US health care settings, she continued as sole proprietor of “courage” for thirteen years.  Services provided by “courage” were designed from the distinct perspective articulated in Dr. Kritek’s book Negotiating at an Uneven Table: Developing Moral Courage in Resolving Our Conflicts.

In 2015, in addition to her continued work as a consultant, she returned to an academic position as a Professor in the University of St. Thomas-Houston School of Nursing where she held the Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza Endowed Chair in Nursing and provided leadership in the development and implementation of a Doctorate in Nursing Practice program. In August, 2021 she completed her tenure at the school to move into another career opportunity.

Dr. Kritek completed training to become a professional coach at the Hudson Institute of Coaching and was certified by the Institute in June, 2021.  In August, 2021, she was certified as a professional coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). In her coaching work, she is developing an emergent focus on coaching toward wisdom work, coaching persons transitioning to elderhood. She is concurrently initiating a blog site where she hopes to explore issues related to coaching, wisdom work and elderhood:  More information on her coaching work is available at

bottom of page