Is nursing an art, a science, or both - Essay Example

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Nurses apparently, encounter in their daily practice, difficulties in incorporating science into the art of nursing and in bridging the gap between theory and practice. A raging debated is always on within nursing as to whether it is an art or a science. The reason for such a…
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Nurses apparently, encounter in their daily practice, difficulties in incorporating science into the art of nursing and in bridging the gap between theory and practice. A raging debated is always on within nursing as to whether it is an art or a science. The reason for such a state of affairs is that this profession includes both scientific and artistic aspects. There have been several commendable endeavours to find areas of consensus between these two opposing points of view. In respect of nursing Florence Nightingale, who was one of its most famous practitioners, stated that “Nursing is an art, and if it is to be made an art, it requires as exclusive a devotion, as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work, for what is having to do with the living body - the temple of God’s spirit? It is one of the fine Arts; I had almost said the finest of the fine Arts”1.
The lexicon defines art as, "both a human creative skill or its application"2. Further, the renowned Plato once asserted that, "Art is the things which are acquired or reduced craft or skill"3. The art and science of nursing permit it to attain its objectives in respect of providing for the health care needs of patients in home, community or institutional health care delivery environments. This entails the use of the nursing process to promote and maintain health, prevent illness, diagnose and manage potential or actual health problems, facilitate adaptation to health impairments, assist rehabilitation and maximize the opportunity for dignity in living and dying.
Some authorities were of the opinion that, “Nurses are faced daily with clinical decisions making. They carry the spirit of caring through the ages as patient’s advocates but now they are being forced to examine ethics to an even greater degree from a world wide point”4. Moreover, nursing, throughout its history was concerned with caring, despite the fact that the concept of care varies according to societal events and needs. This requires the use of the scientific methodology.
Furthermore, nurses comprise the largest group of health care professionals and nurses operate from a unique disciplinary perspective and they view each patient as a person in relation to their environment and the social, economic, and political forces that shape this environment. This makes it imperative to recognize that a nurse’s duty consists of maximizing the promotion, maintenance, and restoration of patients’ health after giving due consideration to the infinitely complex environment that people live in. Therefore, nursing can be said to be scientific in its practise and procedures. The effect of such a paradigm is to attribute to nursing a status that sets it apart as both an art and science that considers health to be a developing process dependent not only on the patient’s body, mind, and spirit, but also on the intricate and multifarious associations that define human correlation and existence.
The focus of nurses is on the unique nature of humans as an interactive whole of needs, knowledge, wills, emotions and feelings and the fundamental concept of nursing is to satisfy such needs of individuals. Further, the art of nursing involves intuition, creativity, caring, therapeutics, communication skills and supportive interpersonal processes. Moreover, these aesthetic considerations have to be combined with knowledge obtained from the natural and behavioral sciences.
The role of nurses in the dissemination of health care is inestimable and unique as they are actively involved in health promotion, education of patients and the public in respect of the prevention of illness and injury, assistance in curing, participation in rehabilitation, and providing support. Nurses help families learn to become healthy by helping them understand the range of emotional, physical, mental and cultural experiences they encounter during health and illness. Nurses help people and their families to accept and live with illness and are always at the forefront of engendering changes in health care and public health. They are highly innovative and the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale was a pioneering statistician who was the first person in history to use graphs and charts to compel politicians to take action. Modern nurses rely on their own first-hand observations in order to generate important research leads on significant topics. They provide a continuous assessment of peoples health and their constant presence, observation skills and vigilance enable doctors to diagnose and treat better. A lot of patients owe their lives to a nurse’s observation of warning signs of an upcoming crisis like cardiac arrest or respiratory failure. This clearly makes nursing a science. Hence, it can be concluded that nursing is at once an art as well as a science.
1. Alexander S., (1944): Qualities. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1:264, In Art and Human
values. (Rader M and Bertram J. 1976). Prentice - Hall; inc New Jersey.
2. Appleton C., (1993): The Art of Nursing, the experience of patients and nurses.
Journal of Advanced Nursing 18, 892-899.
3. Clark J., (1998): The unique function of the nurse. Nursing Standard 12, 16: 39-42.
4. Dickoff J. & James P., (1968): A theory of theories: a position paper. Nursing
Research May - June; 17 (3): 197-203.
5. Henderson V.,(1966): The nature of nursing, Macmillan, New York. In The Art of
Nursing in a post-modern context, (Lister Ph. 1997). Journal of Advanced Nursing,
25 : 38-44.
6. Hess JD.(1995):The Art of stained glass : metaphor for the Art of Nursing. Nursing
Inquiry, 2 : 221-233.
7. Kalofissudis I., (2001): The Evolving Essence of the Science of Nursing, Presentation
in the Nursing Department of the TEI of Athens.
8. Kennick WE.,(1958): ‘Does traditional Aesthetics rest on a mistake ? Mind: In:
Philosophical aesthetics, an introduction. (Hanfling O.1994) Blackwell publish.
9. Langer SK.,(1957): Problems of Art; Ten philosophical lectures. Routledge & Kegan
P, London.
10. Mallison MB.,(1993): ‘Begat’ of a nurse. American journal of Nursing. Editorial
July: 7. Read More
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