Academic journal article Creative Nursing

Defining Nursing: A Linguistic View

Academic journal article Creative Nursing

Defining Nursing: A Linguistic View

Article excerpt

A nurse who has practiced in different countries reflects on the words used in various languages to name our profession, and what those words have to say about the deeper meaning of nursing.

As the cost of travel and basic living expenses has risen sharply and the value of the dollar is sinking low, fewer people can afford to travel. On July 23, 2008, National Public Radio reported that only 40% of all U.S. citizens will take a summer vacation this year. This is a shame because traveling can be such an enriching experience that can help us to understand bett er the world in which we live.

I never appreciated the richness of what nursing means until I looked at how the concept of nursing is expressed in different languages. Starting with English, what is the deeper meaning of nursing? The way I see it, in North America the word nursing is not only used to describe the work I do but is also a term used for the way many mothers feed their babies. Mothers give of themselves to help their babies get stronger and grow. Isn't that a key part of what we nurses do on a daily basis? We give of our knowledge and expertise to help patients achieve higher levels of independence, as well as using our physical abilities to help patients get stronger.

The Dutch use the word Zorgen to describe nursing care. Zorgen literally means "to worry." How true is this! When I work as a hospice nurse, I am very much in touch with a sense of worry. For instance, when caring for terminal patients who have young children, I worry about how they will be able to cope. Aft er I leave my patients' homes, I worry if their pain or antinausea medications will be sufficient. I still remember clearly how aft er leaving a busy medical/surgical unit I would worry that I had forgott en to give a medication or unclamp an IV. …

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