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Nursing: Science or an Art


The concept of nursing was established many centuries ago; nonetheless, the modern conception of nursing had been enacted only since the beginning of the nineteenth century. The name of the first present-day nurse was Florence Nightingale, and she became known as a woman who had altered the whole perception of nursing. Besides, the concept of nursing had been adjusted not only for the broad community but her fellow workers themselves. Since the 1800s, nursing ceased to exist as a set of actions towards an unhealthy patient; from then, the nurses were obliged to perceive the requirements of the patient and do everything in their power to meet these demands. Among other occupations of health care specialists, nursing could easily be considered to be one of the most complicated.

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It has been generally alleged that nursing is related to the area of science. There are a lot of opponents to this statement; they withstand the assertion by claiming the nursing to be an art. Moreover, the supporters of the art theory argue that the traditional scientific approach could not be suitable for nursing. Those who do not agree with the aforesaid principles are of the opinion that nursing could be referred both to science and art. This paper makes an attempt in evaluating the nursing from both sides and making a decision whether nursing belongs to art or science; furthermore, we will determine if the practice of nursing is able to exist within the framework science and art at the same time.

The primary target of nursing is to support the individuals through their efforts to attain their best standard of health in conditions of average health, disease, trauma, or in the process of dying. This target would be possible to accomplish under the circumstances of integrating the two sections of health care, which constitute the topic of the essay. Nursing from the scientific point of view connects with the technical and analysis attitude towards the care of a person being treated for a particular medical problem. Nursing as an art represents a holistic perspective and takes into consideration several aspects of patient’s health, such as psychological, physical and metaphysical demands. Moreover, nursing as an art requires a health care specialist to be thoughtful and receptive, holistic nursing expects a nurse to build a healthy and nurturing connection with a patient despite every possible disagreement between them.

Nursing as a Science

The nurse specialists have to start their path towards becoming a qualified professional with nursing school, where they acquire knowledge of rather rigorous essentials, which involve microbiology, human anatomy and physiology, medical vocabulary, etc. Education is critical for the advancement of all fields of study. Nursing researches are exploited in order to accurately explain assorted theories along with rejecting others. From the moment the health care workers began to conduct researches, a different framework of knowledge was conducted rather than acquire it from other fields of medicine. According to Meleis (1997), “nurses use knowledge of human responses to health and illness in the healing process. Moreover, the nurses use this knowledge in the promoting of health, to help in caring for the patient, to help the patient learn to care for themselves and to help empower the client, teaching them to use available resources” (p. 32).

Scientific investigation is fundamental to the advancement of imminent concepts and methods. Health care researchers need to explore the obscure prospects of nursing in order to constitute consolidated conventions and concepts. These brand-new theories would be indispensable not only for learning but for training as well. Some researchers believe that nursing as a science is a precondition for the nursing practice itself. Many believe that scientific approach could put the interests of the profession above those of the patient while there is nothing more important than the patient in the holistic care. Another aspect is implementation. The central point of implementation of the nursing care is care program; however, at the same time nurses of the holistic care process are able to adapt to the situation of every patient. Furthermore, a nurse has to gather strictly medical data in order to make a diagnosis in the nursing process; this may appear to be a characteristic indicator of a scientific approach. Nursing as a science adheres to a linear process, which means that nurses should take one problem of the patient at a time; moreover, every health concern is a result of a previous one.

Nursing as an Art

The art of nursing and holistic care are eminently connected with each other. Both of these areas analyze the best possible approaches towards improving the health of a patient and intend to find the best solutions for the health problems. According to Potter and Perry (1997), “holistic health is becoming so popular because of the belief that comfort affects personal physical and mental functionality and is considered to be an important part of an individual’s wellness” (p. 28). Holistic nursing is a common term that describes all nursing practices, which have the treatment of the patient and his recovery by all means as an aim. It is not about what you do; it is a way of being, an ideology, and a whole new viewpoint. The nurses that follow the holistic nursing lifestyle are an instrument of recovery and an intermediary of the process of treatment. Dossey and Keegan (2013) claim that “holistic nursing challenges include ways to learn and integrate new theories, models, and information and how to articulate the science and art of holistic nursing, complementary/alternative modalities (CAM) and healing in all specialties and areas of nursing” (p. 4). The holistic nursing practice acknowledges the completeness of the human being as a whole; the interrelation of character, body, mentality, social communication, cultural background and the environment, to be precise. Physical conditions are known to affect the spirit and health of the patient. Moreover, every aspect of treatment is an experience that helps to achieve the most rapid recovery; this includes mental element.

“Caring is a mutual exchange in which both parties relate on the level of their shared humanness, and both learning from each other” (Montgomery, 1993, p. 33). The care as it is described by Montgomery is necessary for everyone; it is expressed consistently through love. It is already known that love and appreciation have a significant influence on the perception of strength, physical and mental wellbeing of an individual. Those who not only are feeling loved, cherished and appreciated but also have the opportunity to share these feelings with others are most likely to move faster towards a complete recovery. On the contrary, if the patient is left alone and does not receive any supplementary assistance, the healing process will be slowed down.

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This ideology implies that every health care worker has to learn the art of compassion and competence. According to Roach (1998), “compassion is the ability of the nurse to listen and feel what the patient is saying without using judgment. It is a way by which the nurse can become closer with the patient without invading the patients’ privacy” (p. 58). Compassion is considered to be an ability that cannot be developed or acquired; therefore, a future health care worker has to have a predisposition to this quality in order to master the art of nursing.

The second mandatory trait for a good nurse specialist is competence. Competence involves the capacity to demonstrate the skills and knowledge connected with nursing to a person that is being treated for medical problems. This trait is essential in the art of nursing, as the patient often refuses to cooperate with health care specialists. Moreover, this trait affects the common theme of ethics: a patient most likely would refuse to be treated by a health care specialist that is incompetent in such fundamental issues as changing clothes or giving a bath.


After evaluating nursing from the both sides of the debate – as a science and as an art – it can be established that nursing is a combination of both. Nursing as a science is associated with the technological and analytical approach towards the care of a person being treated for a certain medical problem. Nursing as an art illustrates a holistic attitude and is based upon three fundamental aspects of patient’s health, such as psychological, physical and metaphysical demands. It could be said that nursing is not able to exist without both components.


Dossey, B. M., & Keegan, L. (2013). Holistic nursing: A handbook for practice. Burlington, Massachusetts: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Meleis, A. (1997). Theoretical nursing: Development & progress. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Montgomery, C. L. (1993). Healing through communication: The practice of caring. Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications, Inc.

Perry, A. G., & Potter, P. A. (1997). Canadian fundamentals of nursing. St. Louis, Missouri: Mosby-Year Book Inc.

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Roach, M. S. (1992). The human act of caring: A blueprint for the health professions. Ottawa, Canada: Canadian Hospital Association Press.

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