is nursing an art or a science

It is hard to connect such at first sight different aspects of life as nursing and art. Medical practices became more complicated in the modern world. Rapid advances in the development of various medical technologies caused replacement of human input into nursing. Nowadays, the majority of people see nursing and medical treatment as a science. Many doctors and nurses became more focused on the medical devices than on patients who are attached to them. However, being a nurse requires much more than knowledge and skills in a healthcare field. The purpose of this work is to demonstrate that nursing is not only science but also an art. In this work, some nursing theories will be briefly discussed for proving this statement.

It is undeniable that professional skills of doctors and nurses play a significant role in the treatment of patients. According to Guide to the Code of Ethics published by the American Nurses Association, nursing, first of all, is the promotion, protection, and optimization of health and abilities of patients. It is also involved in the prevention of diseases and injuries, relief of suffering through the correct diagnosis and treatments, and protection in the care of patients. Unfortunately, not all people who work in a medical field realize that patients need more than qualified medical help. Nevertheless, there are many different theories and plans of healthcare in the modern world. For example, the theory of Hildegard Peplau is widely used in psychiatric nursing. This theory describes nursing as an interpersonal process of therapeutic cooperation between a patient and a nurse. The Peplau’s theory states that patients and medical staff can interact. Hildegard Peplau asserts that the purpose of nursing is to help people detect their problems, and the medical staff should apply the human relations’ principals while they are dealing with problems of their patients.

According to the Peplau’s theory, the relationships between a patient and a nurse have to be focused on the needs, problems, ideas, and feelings of a patient. The relationship between patients and medical providers are divided by Peplau into four phases, such as Orientation Phase, Identification Phase, Exploitation Phase, and Resolution Phase). Each phase is characterized by a certain stage of relations between a nurse and a patient, from the first meeting until a patient no longer needs medical help. For this reason, nurses have to be aware of each stage of the relationships and act accordingly.

Another well-known nursing theory is provided by Dr. Jean Watson. She is an author of many nursing theories, which play a significant role in improving the modern healthcare practice. Her theories are based on creating a connection between a medical provider and a patient as well. From Dr. Jean Watson’s point of view, an illness cannot be cured completely without caring. Her nursing theory is based on a mixture of sciences and humanities.

Watson divided the nursing theory of care into seven main assumptions. These assumptions demonstrate the irreplaceable role of the care not only in curing of individuals but also in developing better relationship between people. Dr. Watson defines ten primary factors of caring that are based on assumptions. These factors are built on philosophical principals and behavioral norms. The factors consist of such aspects of human’s life as a humanistic-altruistic system of values, faith-hope, sensitivity, helping-trust relationships, feelings, human needs, and others. Watson provides the four major concepts: Human being, health, environment/society, and nursing. She describes the four nursing processes, which are assessment, plan, intervention, and evaluation. These processes explain the professional role of nurses.

According to Jean Watson, nursing has to be based on caring attitude towards patients. Such attitude causes positive emotions in patients, which contributes to their cure. For Watson, transpersonal caring relationships lie beyond ego to connect with spiritual concerns that allow a nurse to access healing possibilities and potentials. She believes that the one who cares and the one who needs care are interconnected in a transpersonal caring relationship, and the entire caring and healing consciousness is contained within a single caring-healing moment. Thus, such caring relationships create harmony, wholeness, and unity of being in caring moments. From Watson’s point of view, the nursing is an art rather than science.

Anne Boykin, Savina Schoenhofer, and Danielle Linden in their work developed the theory of care as an organizing framework for nursing. The theory is based on the thesis that “caring is the human mode of being”. From their point of view, caring is “altruistic, active expression of love and is intentional and embodied recognition of value and connectedness”. Nurses have to make difficult personal decisions every day in the context of complex, often changing systems of health care. All nursing theories present ethics, as a moral component of nursing, which is focused on the personal and professional obligation and “what ought to be done”. Ethical knowing emerges from an examination of the beliefs, standards, and codes of the nursing profession. Nevertheless, it takes more than knowing it. Nurses have to consider the definitions of “good and right” from the perspective of different ethical frameworks and full understanding of professional obligation.

The profession of nurse requires much more than professional skills, ethical knowing, and moral principles. A qualified caretaker besides being caring has to have such inner qualities as patience and intuition. Dealing with people, especially if they have problems with their health, is not as easy as some individuals might think. All people are different, and some can react to the same problems in different ways. For instance, an old woman with a broken leg very unlikely will behave and react in the same way to her issue as a young man. Thus, each individual needs a personalized approach.

Hesook Suzie Kim in her work The Essence of Nursing Practice: Philosophy and Perspective, characterizes nursing practice from an analytic stance and separates it into five distinct dimensional qualities – scientific, technical, ethical, aesthetic, and existential. These dimensions are connected to each other and characterize the practice of “being”, “thinking”, and “doing” in nursing. Scientific dimension is the main aspect of nursing. It is a result of the development of nursing knowledge and the rapid advances in the development of modern medicine. According to Kim, the general principles of scientific dimension are logic, explanatory power, and experimental grounding. These principles are related to the various aspects of human actions, such as making sense of special, singular cases, use of resources and different technics, coordination of various aspects of human action, researching, and experimenting.

The author pays close attention to an aesthetic dimension of nursing practice. She points out that this dimension is a controversial issue when it comes to the debate about whether nursing is a science or an art. She states that it is untenable and inappropriate to consider nursing completely either a science or an art. From a point of view of human service, nursing is an integrated form, which can be described as a scientific field with aesthetic, ethical, technical, and existential characters.

The term “aesthetic” usually associates with different forms of art rather than with nursing. However, Suzie Kim defines nursing practice not only as a science but also as art. She points out that the concept of art in the medical field is not completely in line with the usual understanding of it. Nursing is not an artwork in its strict sense, “but it is viewed to encompass an artistic character in the expression embedded in practice”. Thereby, theories and philosophies have to see the nursing practice as having an artful character.

The art of nursing includes all aspects of various nursing theories, such as psychosocial, social and spiritual needs, religious and cultural preferences, and individual health promotion of each patient. Even though nursing is based on the scientific evidence, without an input of art in medical practice it is impossible to meet patient’s needs. The nursing theories encourage medical staff to be kind, polite, and gentle to patients, which is very necessary. A kind word, compliment, smile or a joke can create a loving and caring atmosphere for patients. However, sometimes patients can be aggressive, rude or depressed. They might be alcoholics, drug addicts or emotionally unstable. It is very significant for a nurse to be patient enough while dealing with such individuals, and be able to use nursing theories properly. A nurse has to have enough intuition and professional skills to detect the mood of a patient. Solving problems, avoiding conflicts, finding a personalized approach, and applying nursing theories requires much of creativity and intuition from nurses. Therefore, nursing can be considered as an art, as well as science.

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