Art of Nursing

art of nursingNurses 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 comfort

Nurses 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.

by NMSANE of

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