Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

I AM a NURSE: Nursing Students LEARN the Art and Science of Nursing

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

I AM a NURSE: Nursing Students LEARN the Art and Science of Nursing

Article excerpt


The purpose of this study was to understand how nursing students make meaning of experiences of being in nurse/patient interactions. The study was conceptualized using Heidegger's philosophy of being. Participants were 28 sophomore nursing students in the first year of clinical experiences with patients. The participants recorded in electronic journals their responses to six open-ended questions concerning their thoughts and feelings about being in nurse/patient interactions. Data were analyzed using an interpretative process true to hermeneutic phenomenology. Five themes were identified: fear of interacting with patients; developing confidence; becoming self-aware; connecting with knowledge; and connecting with patients. Four implications were drawn from the study: nursing students intertwine the art and science of nursing in nurse/patient interactions; nursing education must be restructured to include a balance of the art and science of nursing; reflection and/or journal writing is a valuable way to enhance learning; and each nursing student is developing identity simultaneously as a nurse and as a person.

Key Words Nursing Students - Art of Nursing - "Being" in Nursing - Clinical Experiences - Reflective Writing


ALTHOUGH for 29 years of my life I defined myself by these words and experienced nursing through multiple roles and in a variety of settings, I never took the time to really think about what being a nurse means to me.

THEN, after nine years as a nurse educator, I conducted a literature review for my dissertation and began to dwell on what it means to say I am a nurse and what it means to be a nurse. * I KNEW that nursing is both an art and a science, and I KNEW that the essence of nursing exists in interactions between nurse and patient. I ALSO KNEW how nursing students learn through both didactic and clinical experiences. What I did NOT KNOW was how nursing students learn the being of nursing.

THIS ARTICLE presents research that explores how nursing students interpret, or make meaning of, experiences of being in their nurse/patient interactions. The meanings of behaviors are explored, not the behaviors themselves.

Terminology Through research and theory in nursing practice, nursing is defined and described as both an art and a science. While the science of nursing is based on the acquisition of skills and knowledge across the curriculum as well as theoretical knowledge of nursing (1,2), Paterson and Zderad describe nursing as "an experience lived between human beings" (3, p. 3). Chinn calls the art of nursing "the art/act of the experience-in-the-moment" (4, p. 24).

The art of nursing develops from the humanness of the nurse and the patient (3,5). Bevis states that it is taught as part of the "hidden curriculum - the curriculum of subtle socialization, of teaching student nurses how to think and feel like nurses" (6, p. 75). Traditionally, the art of nursing is taught in schools of nursing through communication lectures or in behavioral communication skills laboratories (7). However, since the true art of nursing is created in the human realm the actual interaction of the nurse and the patient - Doane (7) believes that such laboratories do not allow students to truly learn the art of nursing. The essential core, the heart of nursing, is the nurse/patient interaction, in relationship with or being with a patient. And it is in interactions with patients that the nurse experiences nursing (2,8).

In reporting on the research described in this article, it is important to identify the concepts of being and to be. Being is a concept described by Heidegger (1927/1962), and being and to be are used interchangeably. Both concepts are indefinable. That is, being is not an entity to be defined, but can only be discovered from asking about how it was to be from "relatedness backward" (9, p. 277).

The concept of relatedness backward offers a way to understand being. …

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