Nursing: Science or Art?
Balancing Between the Art and Science of Nursing
Although nursing is typically viewed from an academic perspective, there are two sides to the phenomenon in question; particularly, it can be viewed as not only science but also art. Claiming that nursing can only be defined as one of the two would be wrong since it would imply denying the dual nature of the concept, i.e., its focus on the exploration of the methods of improving patient outcomes and the search for tools for enhancing the communication between a nurse and a patient or a nurse and a community (Dunphy, Winland-Brown, & Porter, 2015). Choosing between the two would require denying one of the amazing opportunities that a nurse can embrace and explore when studying a particular problem and addressing the needs of a certain community. Therefore, nursing must be viewed as both science and art since it encompasses academic issues such as the development of new models for managing diseases and disorders and creating innovative strategies for multicultural communication between nurses and patients.
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Seeing nursing as science is very easy due to the profound academic foundation that has been built owing to evidence-based research and the design of numerous theories based on research findings. Therefore, the scientific element of nursing is very evident, and it needs to be recognized as an essential part of the notion. Numerous studies that have been carried out in the field of nursing allow claiming that the latter belongs to the area of science and must be recognized as a valid field for conducting evidence-based analyses.
One might claim that, unlike other areas of science, nursing cannot be characterized by the certainty of its theories or the effects of interventions. Indeed, in nursing, a significant number of outcomes hinge on the unique characteristics of patients; in other words, what may be deemed as appropriate for a certain demographic is likely to be defined as unsuitable for another. However, the specified property of nursing should be juxtaposed to the fact that the identified area has a range of efficient interventions and strategies that are supported by working theories and, therefore, must be recognized as a legitimate field of science (Gerrish & Lathlean, 2015).
Put differently, nursing may have several characteristics that set it apart from other sciences. The lack of precision is, perhaps, the most evident of them. However, the theoretical foundation, the evidence-based studies that have been conducted in the identified area and the focus on using theory as the guidelines for nursing practice must be recognized as the markers of nursing being a legitimate field of science.
It could be argued that the fact of nursing comprising the elements of communication does not imply that it should be listed among forms of art. Indeed, communication as such is not typically listed among art forms. However, a closer look at the subject matter will reveal that certain elements of art can be found in nursing. The communication processes occurring among nurses and especially between a nurse and a patient are, perhaps, the closest items that can be associated with art in nursing. Indeed, the process of searching for the unique approach that can be used to develop a connection with a particular patient belonging to a specific culture can be paralleled with the process of creating an art piece since both imply designing a unique approach.
One might argue that, unlike the design of an art piece, the process of establishing a connection between a patient and a nurse implies that interaction between two or more people has to occur. Indeed, the creation of an art form is often deemed as the idea of expressing one’s self and, therefore, the process that does not require the participation of anyone outside of an artist. However, a closer look at the problem will show that art has a social meaning apart from the one that was imbued in it by the author. As soon as an artwork is displayed in public, it is open to interpretations and, therefore, stops being linked solely to its creator. As a result, any art piece that has ever been viewed by anyone except its creator can be deemed as the result of the collaboration between an artist and their audience. It could also be argued that an art piece cannot exist outside of its social context; moreover, in many cases, it is the product of the latter. Therefore, an art piece can also be interpreted as the result of a collaboration between artists and their audience almost to the same extent as the design of a specific nursing approach is the result of the interaction between a nurse and a patient.
Thus, from the perspective of patient-nurse communication, the phenomenon of nursing can – and, should – be defined as art. A nurse needs to be creative in the search for an approach toward a patient belonging to a different culture; similarly, it is paramount for a nurse to be able to create an elaborate and original strategy for meeting the needs of the target population. The perception of nursing as a specimen of art is crucial for the ability of a nurse to be innovative and original in their search for the appropriate tool for managing patients’ needs and designing unique interventions (Varcarolis, 2016).
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Therefore, there are clear indications that nursing encompasses both science and art since it implies not only using evidence-based tools for carrying out research, design theoretical models, test innovative treatment strategies, etc but also demands that unique communication approaches should be designed, therefore, compelling nurse to be artistic in their exploration of patients’ culture and the opportunities for a cross-cultural conversation. Thus, nursing should be viewed a not merely art or science but a combination of both. Herein lies the primary distinction of the subject matter, a well as exhaustive opportunities for finding innovative solutions to the emergent problems. Nursing requires both academic and social endeavors, therefore, embodying the traits of both science and art (Aktan, 2015).
Change Process and the Catalyst for an Improvement
Because of the duality of the concept of nursing, introducing positive changes to it is a rather challenging process. On the one hand, nursing as science requires engaging in the process of research regularly, testing new hypotheses, and supplying the foundation for new theories and interventions. On the other hand, the importance of a patient-nurse and community-nurse conversation must not be underrated. Thus, the tools for enhancing the communication process, e.g., receiving feedback and processing it, must be introduced to the field of nursing. Therefore, keeping the process of change in the area of nursing is a complicated task requiring a balanced approach toward addressing the issues of communication and the advancement of treatment efficacy.
To embrace the specified issues, one should consider promoting change by focusing on the improvement of nursing service quality. The specified goal encompasses both the need to communicate with patients and carrying out studies aimed at determining the best way of meeting their needs. Consequently, the introduction and management of change in the context of the nursing environment will imply reconsidering the current approach toward information management, in general, and the process of knowledge and skills acquisition among nurses, in particular. The process of positive change must be geared toward the enhancement of cross-cultural communication and the active promotion of diversity; as a result, nurses will be able to build successful rapport with patients, at the same time learning more about their needs and, therefore, becoming capable of delivering the services of the necessary quality. In other words, both the artistic and scientific aspects of nursing will be addressed. Furthermore, the enhancement of change will allow advancing research in nursing extensively by pushing the envelope and compelling researchers to explore the boundaries of the current nursing science (Ellis & Bach, 2015).
Introducing change to the contemporary environment of nursing is an essential step toward the increase in the number of positive patient outcomes. Therefore, the tools for the efficient management of both communication and research must be introduced. As a result, a steep rise in the efficacy of the designed interventions is expected to be witnessed. Furthermore, the introduction of a set of effective change management tools will provide an opportunity to foster the culture of change in nursing and focus on consistent improvement as the basis for delivering high-quality care.
Summary: Science and Art in Nursing
Between Science and Art: Nursing and Its Dual Nature
- Nursing is a combination of art and science;
- The scientific part implies research;
- The artistic part implies communication;
- Both must remain in balance;
- The successful patient needs management is the goal.
Nursing as Science: The Essential Characteristics
- Nursing suggests conducting research;
- Evidence-based studies are deemed as appropriate;
- Studies are used to develop theories;
- Theories are used to create interventions;
- Thus, nursing belongs to the realm of science.
The Gap Between Nursing and Science: Limitations
- However, there are certain problems;
- There is no silver bullet for a disorder;
- Instead, unique approaches must be designed;
- Thus, patients’ needs are met successfully;
- Consequently, nursing is not fully scientific.
Rebuttal: Why Nursing Should Be Viewed as science
- There are significant indications of scientific elements;
- The presence of a scientific method is obvious;
- The focus on exploration and analysis is clear;
- The importance of a theoretical perspective is high;
- Thus, nursing must be deemed as science.
Nursing and Art: Developing a Unique Perspective
- Nursing is not typically viewed as art;
- However, it has some essential characteristics thereof;
- Much like art, nursing implies communication;
- Art, however, is often viewed as an individual;
- Nevertheless, art suggests sharing a vision with the audience;
- Similarly, nursing requires engaging the audience;
- Nursing demands a unique vision.
The Gap Between Nursing and Art: Analysis
- Still, there are certain limitations to the vision;
- The foundation for communication must be scientific;
- The communication must be theory-based;
- Nurses must use research as the basis for their approach;
- Evidence-based strategies remain the key tools.
Rebuttal: Why Nursing Should Be Artistic
- The focus must be kept on nurse-patient communication;
- The needs of diverse patients must be respected;
- Cross-cultural communication strategies must be used;
- Patients’ needs
Nursing as a Middle Road Between Art and Science
- Nursing remains a combination of art and science;
- It needs to include both;
- Thus, the communication issues are addressed;
- At the same time research is enhanced;
- Thus, the basis for successful treatment is created.
Aktan, N. M. (2015). Fast facts for the new nurse practitioner (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer.
Dunphy, L. M., Winland-Brown, J., Porter, B., & Thomas, D. (2015). Primary care: Art and science of advanced practice nursing (4th ed.). New York, NY: F. A. Davis.
Ellis, P., & Bach, S. (2015). Leadership, management and team working in nursing (2nd ed.). Nashville, TN: Learning Matters.
Gerrish, K., & Lathlean, J. (2015). The research process in nursing. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Varcarolis, E. M. (2016). Essentials of psychiatric mental health nursing (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.