By Kirsten Chua
Everybody knows that the nursing profession has two different sides—it is both science and art. That said, nursing as a science is more apparent.
For example, if you are a nurse, you must know the patient-based nursing care plan (NCP). You must also know the disease mechanisms of all diseases, medications, and management from all sides. Nurses also need to be up to date on new policies, practices, and procedures. Moreover, they need to know how to manipulate new diagnostic equipment and machines.
The science of nursing is easily noticeable and it is very critical for each one to know.
What Is the Art?
Meanwhile, the art of nursing is more than a great deal of science. It is more than just knowing; it is doing. It bridges information from nurses to patients in a skillful way. It is the application of all the science known to nursing to give the utmost care the patient needs.
During your first year in the nursing profession, you are in the heat of the moment. You now belong to that bunch of young professionals who are enthusiastic and motivated in practicing their craft. Maybe many could attest that when you first become a nurse you see the art more than the science of it.
But it is sad to note that as time passes by the semblance of the nursing being an art bleeds out. At the drop of a hat, you get suffocated from the career you once loved.
The Human Touch
In the past 7 years that I have been a clinical instructor, I have seen so many changes in the healthcare arena and how nursing should be. But one thing remains: human nature.
Our patients’ needs have remained constant and relentless. As Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests, these include food, sense of belonging, warmth, compassion, self-actualization. These basic needs have been addressed in the same way since the dawn of science. However, the ways to meet them may have changed from time to time.
The art of nursing may have been in each person even before entering the profession. That innate capacity to respond to the needs of individual is already the art of nursing. In nursing school, this vivacity is awakened through constant interaction with the patients in various settings.
Nurses are called to perform relational work. Therefore, the motivation to keep that art in us should be continuously burning. We have the power to heal the sick. An effective nurse is one who gives nursing care independently and collaboratively with other healthcare teams.
The art of nursing comes in as a nurse independently does his or her job. The options s/he considers in taking a certain action and ultimately the action s/he does to respond to patient needs are the art of nursing.
It is in the nurses’ hands to promote positive changes in patients. Everyday we are faced with patients who are in different conditions. In this case, individualized nursing care is noteworthy. Knowledge is not enough. Compassionate care is paramount.
Where Is the Art?
In my experience, I have witnessed things in which nursing as an art is not manifested. I squirmed while hearing a nurse teaching pre-operative patients without compassion. Instead of comfort, fear is built within the patients. I have observed nurses, who are not well informed about a disease process, explain things to patients without using therapeutic communication. I have noted procedures done outside the context of the protocols and sterile technique.
Sadly, many of these incidents are from those who have been in the profession for so long. Science is applied, but where is the art in this perspective?
Clearly, nurses must be equipped with the science of nursing. But until the art of nursing is recognized as a necessary principle for patient care, nurses will likely to continue to demonstrate behaviors that make them good technicians. However, they will not necessarily be good nurses.
As a field grounded in compassion and direct patient care, the art of the nursing profession is more important than the science. And this is where the so-called calling comes into play.