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Nurses are old and young, tall and short, skinny and wide. We come from all walks of life. Some choose to enter the nursing profession for job security, others to help those around them. Throughout our schooling, we are taught and tested on the science of nursing. Our primary focus is the ability to recall important facts, to think ahead of the current situation, and to understand interactions between the patient and the interventions we provide.
Elusive, yet widely recognized, the art of nursing is our ability to connect with those around us. It is only when we begin direct patient care that we become aware of the art of nursing. The word art can be used to describe the results of a particular task as well as the knowledge and skill required to perform that task. Like other more fashionable art forms, nursing can be dramatic, inspirational, comedic, relaxing, comforting, joyful, and even sad.
Nursing is also creative, existential, and has a particular rhythm. This intangible connection can create an environment of healing, one that allows patients to fully participate in their own recovery process.My great-great-aunt Mae was a nurse at the turn of the 19th Century. Seven days a week, she hitched-up her horse and buggy to provide medical care and comfort in her rural community. When the local veterinarian was busy, she would also help care for local horses and cattle.
Later, she became a psychiatric nurse, and even later a nurse educator. Nursing allowed her to travel, meet new people, and provide for independence that most women couldn't attain in that time period. For her, nursing meant freedom and the ability to be her own person.My great-aunt Marge became a nurse in the late 1930s. She initially worked in a small country hospital. When World War II erupted, she moved to a bigger city to care for veterans on a medical ward.
As she provided these brave men with physical care, she also performed assessments and interventions to help relieve their psychological pain. She felt that her calling at that time was to heal their damaged spirits. Though her career spanned many decades and various nursing specialties, it is this work that brought her the most joy and great professional pride.When I decided on a career in nursing, I knew none of this.
I had worked in healthcare settings since I was 15 years old, and always knew I wanted to work in a patient care environment. I readily learned the tasks I needed to perform whatever job I was assigned. But more than that, I could easily connect with my patients on a level deeper than I expected. Patients would open up to me. Even at the tender age of 16, I had elderly patients share their fears of death and dying with me - seeking comfortNurses teach, support, communicate, medicate, and coordinate patient-care events.
Nurses are patient advocates who provide comfort and hope to our patients and their families. The art of nursing is in play when we just 'know' what to do to meet a patient's emotional needs: when to hold a patient's hand, stroke their brow, crack a joke or even just sit and listen. Most of this is being accomplished simultaneously during each patient interaction.The science of nursing allows us to care for our patient's bodies; but it's the art of nursing that calls me to the profession and allows each nurse to touch souls.
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Artwork plays a vibrant role from the personal life with the individual as well as within the social and economic development on the nation. The study of Visible arts encourages personal development as well as the awareness of both our cultural heritage along with the role of art inside the society. The learner acquires personal knowledge, skills and competencies through activities in Visible arts. When one studies Visual arts, he/she would come to appreciate or fully grasp that artwork is an integral part of everyday life.
The day before undergoing lifesaving, high-risk surgery, a young woman sat with her fiancé by her side. The charge nurse, who learned that they wanted to tie the knot before the surgery, quietly went into action. With the help of a social worker, chaplain, and volunteer services, the nurse made arrangements for everything—the ceremony, the rings, the veil, and even a disposable camera to capture the event.
It was a special day for the couple and for the nurse who practiced her art of touching the lives of strangers. Such stories are common among nurses, though not among the broader public. Nurses act with an inherent knowledge of what is right. They extend themselves with caring, empathy, and compassion to create helping, healing relationships with each patient. These actions exemplify aesthetic knowledge, one of the ways of knowing that best aligns with the art of nursing.
The dyad of art and science reflects patterns of knowing first described by Barbara Carper. Knowing is a cognitive process, and four patterns of knowing—empirical, ethical, personal, and aesthetic—characterize nursing. These patterns don’t exist in isolation. Nurses use them together and to varying degrees based on each situation. Empirical knowing is factual and aligned with quantitative explanations.
Ethical knowing draws on one’s moral values. Personal knowing relates to understanding and actualization of a relationship between a nurse and patient, while aesthetic knowing reflects the nurse’s perception of the patient and the patient’s needs. By synthesizing all this knowledge, the nurse develops a comprehensive perspective of the patient and provides excellent care. Nurses demonstrate their professional commitment to expanding empirical knowledge by generating or using research findings to guide and establish best practices.
The process requires critical examination of data or reported findings, understanding the data and the implications, and then making clinical decisions. The result is evidence-based practice. Although evidence-based practice relies most heavily on empirical knowledge, it has links to the other ways of knowing. A nurse evaluates evidence using clinical judgment along with a consideration of values, such as patient centeredness, safety, and reliability.
National reporting of patient outcomes and sharing of best practices are beginning to pay dividends, as nurses rapidly gain insight into alternative ways of achieving improved patient comfort, healing, emotional health, and risk-factor reduction. As we celebrate nurses this May, let us help others recognize the scientific and the artistic aspects of nursing practice. Nurses enjoy feeling appreciated and respected.
But appreciation and respect can’t be measured in the number of gifts from an employer or the number of meals crammed into a day of celebration. Real ongoing respect values the knowledge and ability needed to practice the art and science of nursing. Respect and support for discovering methods to improve patient outcomes celebrate nursing excellence. Providing appropriate compensation, healthy work environments, and opportunities to enhance knowledge shows respect for nurses’ dedication and their multifaceted roles.
Enjoying autonomy over practice demonstrates the kind of respect nurses deserve. Of course, autonomy requires a responsibility to apply new knowledge to improve care through changes in practice. More and more clinical nurses are participating in research and generating new knowledge. Nurse scholars study not only clinical processes and outcomes, but also other aspects of the practice and delivery of nursing care.
American Nurse Today will increase its coverage of relevant and easy-to-translate research findings. My goal is to amplify the work of nurses who are increasingly playing an important part in saving lives and improving the quality of life. As we generate greater evidence and define best practices for more and more of the care we deliver, we will strengthen the public’s knowledge of the value of our care.
Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, FAANEditor-in-Chief Related Articles: On the record with Pamela Cipriano, Editor-in-Chief Do you need a business card? Color awareness: A must for patient assessment What you can learn from failure
Title: The Art Of Nursing