Is Nursing Considered a Science or an Art? Or Both?
Nursing is part of the healthcare system. It includes the efforts to strengthen public health, prevent diseases, provide psychosocial support and care for individuals with physical and mental illnesses. The accurate approach to the nursing determines its scope, functions, and forms of nursing personnel, which are varying in different regions, and depend on the particular national culture of health system, demographic, and other factors. However, nursing as an important part of the healthcare system is a universal concept. Vocational training for specialty “Nursing” is conducted in specialized educational institutions, such as medical schools, medical colleges and universities (for bachelor degree). Nurses form the largest category of healthcare workers. They act as assistants in medical facilities, who perform medical appointments and different nursing processes. Nowadays, the question regarding issue of nursing becomes one of the most discussed. On the one hand, nursing, without doubts, is a science, as it requires a special knowledge and education. On the other hand, nursing can be perceived as an art, as the nurse must earn the confidence of the patient by choosing proper words and actions. Therefore, the current paper on nurse essay topics discusses the nature of nursing and provides the evidence, which answers the question whether nursing is an art or a science, or it might include both concepts.
One of the founders of nursing in its modern sense is Florence Nightingale. She reformed the British healthcare system. Florence wrote in the ‘Notes of Care’ that nursing is an act of using the environment that surrounds the patient, in order to facilitate his/her recovery . Nightingale studied the relationship between patient’s health and environmental factors and developed the concept of the environment as a component of nursing. She formulated a distinction between medical and nursing activities, and noted that nursing requires practical and scientific trainings in addition to the medical training. Typical duties of professional nurses are to provide emergency first aid, assist doctors in operations, provide nursing in hospitals, perform such medical procedures as injections and measurement of blood pressure, issue medicines to patients, and work with medical records (recipes, information, and directions to the medical examinations). Some nursing specializations require additional highly specialized training. Promoting a safe environment, research, participation in shaping health management and health care are also key elements of nursing.
The discussion regarding nature of nursing is not new. The researchers have different explanations and concepts, which state about the nature of nursing. Therefore, some of them claim that nursing is an art and other claim that it is a science. According to Nightingale, nursing is the same art as painting and sculpture. The art of care is the highest of the arts. Therefore, the most terrible danger that threatens it is the danger of becoming ordinary craft. By calling nursing an art, she believed that it requires organization, practical, and scientific training . One of the best definitions of nursing belongs to the American nurse, teacher, and researcher Virginia Henderson. International Council of Nurses in 1958 asked her to define the concept of nursing. Later, the book by Henderson, titled ‘The Nature of Nursing: Definition, Ways Of Implementation in Practice, Research and Education’ was published. In the book, the author provides the basic principles of nursing care for patients. Moreover, it is still used by many nurses. Henderson says that the unique challenge of a nurse is to help people, sick or healthy, in the implementation of actions in relation to their health, recovery or peaceful death. She says that such people would do the same, if only they had the necessary strength, knowledge, and freedom.
Rogers describes nursing as a science. She pointed to the existence of a unique knowledge base that arose from research and logical analysis and could be transferred to nursing practice. In 1987, at the meeting of national representatives of the International Council of Nurses in New Zealand the unanimously definition of nursing was adopted. It states that nursing is an integral part of the healthcare system that includes activities to promote health, prevent disease, and provide psychosocial support to individuals with physical and mental illnesses and disabilities of all ages. Nurses should provide assistance in hospitals, homes, and other institutions. Florence Nightingale in her scientific papers claimed that the nursing as a profession differs from medical practice and requires special knowledge. Medicine is knowledge and practical steps, which direct the doctor to find the pathophysiological changes in the body in order to identify disease and prescribe the treatment. However, the disease could affect not only the patient. It influences his/her family or a group of people where the patient is working or studying. Sometimes, the disease causes problems, which cannot be solved by the doctor. For example, doctor saved the life of a human who suffered from severe traumatic brain injury, but he could not preserve patient’s vision due to the severity of injuries and damage to the optic nerve. Consequently, such situation can cause many moral problems to the patient and his family. In this case, the nurse is the person who will assist the patient in solving such problems. She will help the patient and his family to adapt psychologically to the situation that arose, will teach him/her to self-care, and self-hygiene elements. Moreover, the nurse will help a person to find his/her place in society. Therefore, nursing focuses not on a disease but on a holistic person or group of people (family, community, society). It aims at solving health problems that occur in during the illness or other changes in health of the human.
Nursing is based on four major areas or concepts, which define and affect nursing practice. In addition, such theories show that nursing as a profession combines art and science for better managing of the medical care. The first major concept considers human as a personality. This concept is broadly applied to all people. The nursing concept of a person is looking at human as biological, psychological, social, and spiritual creature. These components form a complete human image (holistic approach) in a coherent way. They are common to all people, but individual for each human. Thus, they reflect the personality of each human. The second major concept is the environment that surrounds the patient. It includes all the external factors, which have influence on people. Nightingale stated that environment always influences human activity. It should be perceived as the essential factor in preventing of the disease. Each particular person has many different responses of his/her organism to such factors caused by the changes in external environment. The concept of environment includes individual psychological, scientific, intellectual, and interpersonal aspects that can affect the human response to the environment. Such aspects show that nursing has the strong connection with science. In addition, depending on the environment, in which the patient was growing up, living and working, the nurse must try to develop relationship with him. If the relations are friendly, it will lead to the success between the nurse and the patient in providing care. The third concept considers human health. It is variable concept, which depends on different life stages of human development. Health is closely related to human adaptation to internal and external stressors. Using the process of adapting throughout life, people should reveal maximum personal potential. Health is a goal to which all humans should always strive. It includes the ability of a human to take care of himself/herself. In addition, health provides a sense of integrity between the organism and the environment, and ability to overcome stress by adapting. In 1947, the WHO defined the scientific concept of health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not only as the absence of disease and maintaining of the health. The fourth major concept defines the idea of nursing. It is central in all nursing theories. The definition includes nursing function and the role of nurse in the interaction with the patient. The nurse’s actions aim at studying patient’s reactions to the disease, emotional support, help and care for patients with physical defects, and special care during the hygiene procedures. Nurses also teach patients how to maintain their health throughout their lives, and methods to prevent the exacerbation of the existing disease.
Florence Nightingale emphasized that nursing is an ancient art that focuses on patient care. For example, when the nurse is imposing bandages to patient, it requires not only knowledge of the rules and requirements for the imposition of bandages. His\her knowledge of what kind of bandages to use or how to do it properly indicates only the scientific side of the nurse labor. At the same time, the nurse should impose a bandage gently and with aesthetic taste. She should talk to the patient, introduce herself, explain the purpose and the progress of the procedure to obtain the consent of the patient and teach him how to deal with bandage at home, etc. In such case, it will be manifestation of the patient’s care art. On the other hand, nursing includes the scientific approach. Therefore, each nurse should know the patient-based nursing care plan (NCP). Moreover, nursing practice requires from the worker of a healthcare sector the knowledge of every disease and their mechanisms. He/she should always be informed about new policies of treatment and procedures of the health organization. In addition, nurse should be able to work with new medical equipment and diagnostic machines.
As a professional and scientific discipline, nursing is closely linked to the definition of a conceptual framework for receiving and updating of nursing knowledge. For example, pain and fear are common concepts, which nurses face in caring for patients. Nurses cannot see the “pain” as general definition, but with close observation of the patient, they should notice signs to recognize the psychological picture of the “pain.” Concepts differ regarding the breadth of views. For example, the term “stressor” is much broader than the concept of pain. However, the term “headache” is narrower than the concept of “pain”. The broad concepts, such as the “stressor” are tending to be abstract and the narrower concepts, such as “headache” could be more specific. Therefore, the profession of nurse requires specific abilities to recognize such concepts for better managing of the consumer’s care.
To conclude, the nursing can be defined as science and art at the same time, which develop harmoniously. Nursing is characterized by its own system of knowledge, based on a scientific theory and focused on health and well-being of the patient. The nurse practice deals with psychological, spiritual, social, and physical aspects of the patient as a person, and not just the diagnosed patient. The range of nurses’ interests covers human response to interaction with the environment and surroundings elements. Such reactions are under the influence of past human experience, environmental, social and economic factors, and dynamics of family relationships. Nursing is an art, which includes patients’ care during the illness and providing help to the patient in order to achieve the maximum health potential throughout his/her life. At the same time, nursing is a science, which requires special knowledge in order to deliver the nursing care to the patients. As a result, both definitions form the unique system of nursing care.