Scientific and Artistic Elements of Nursing Essay

Scientific and Artistic Elements of Nursing Essay


Contemporary nursing is a multifaceted field that incorporates elements from a wide range of disciplines. Due to significant improvements facilitated by the reliance on evidence-based approach, it is tempting to classify nursing as a science. On the other hand, many of its important elements, such as compassion, originate from the emotional domain and are thus more consistent with art than science. The following paper argues that nursing can be considered both science and art and provides arguments supporting each of the views. Scientific and Artistic Elements of Nursing Essay

Important Definitions

In order to determine whether nursing can be classified as either art or science, it is first necessary to define both concepts. Art is traditionally understood as the manifestation of individual’s skills in the process of creating an object characterized by certain emotional and aesthetic properties. However, the term is also used to describe skills or proficiencies applied in a masterful way to achieve an outstanding result. These skills are usually considered non-quantifiable, intangible and, to a certain extent, non-replicable in a sense that they cannot be attained through instruction and repetition. This second definition is clearly more suitable for the purpose of the paper and will be used as a basis for the argument. Science is usually defined as a systematic and practical approach to organizing knowledge in the most efficient way with an ultimate goal of improving the understanding of the natural world. This definition is consistent with the majority of current principles of nursing and is thus suitable for the argument. Scientific and Artistic Elements of Nursing Essay

Nursing as Science

Before proceeding with the argument, it is necessary to point out that in its current form, nursing strongly resembles science. The primary reason for this is its reliance on evidence-based practice. In the broadest sense, the concept is an ongoing attempt of ensuring the best possible outcomes by presenting evidence of its consistency and validity during application. While numerous methods and approaches are available, the majority of them are based on and consistent with scientific method. The best example is a randomized controlled trial, which is considered the most accurate and reliable way of obtaining evidence in healthcare (Grove, Burns, & Gray, 2014). Evidence-based approaches are already used in many areas of nursing practice and are expected to become the default mode of operation in the future.

It is also important to understand that the application of evidence-based approach extends beyond the selection of effective nursing practices and impacts decision-making on an organizational, local, and state level. In addition, it is not limited to quantifiable outcomes and has been effectively applied to cultural, social, and spiritual aspects of nursing. Simply put, it underlies all major areas of nursing, framing the latter science.Scientific and Artistic Elements of Nursing Essay

From this standpoint, it is also important to acknowledge the use of a systematic approach in nursing practice. One of the key principles in the field is the reliance on standardized guidelines and protocols. The said principle is the most apparent on an organizational scale, where universal protocols are adopted to minimize errors, streamline actions of facility staff, and achieve greater consistency and predictability of results. However, it is also observed on an individual scale. The easiest example of such a system is a nursing care plan, which uses a number of clearly defined components applicable for a wide range of purposes (Doenges, Moorhouse, & Murr, 2014). The construction of such a plan requires sufficient understanding of various health conditions, applicable interventions, and relevant monitoring and evaluation techniques, all of which are based on scientific knowledge.Scientific and Artistic Elements of Nursing Essay


Finally, it should be mentioned that measurement of outcomes is an important aspect of nursing practice. In addition to apparent aspects such as the assessment of effectiveness of treatment, it includes numerous social and cultural aspects relevant to healthcare, such as patient satisfaction, involvement, and capacity for decision-making, among others. In most cases, the evaluation is performed using a systematic approach and with the help of standardized tools. As can be seen, nursing features strong resemblance of scientific practices, both due to its increasingly systematic nature and due to utilization of numerous aspects of a scientific method.Scientific and Artistic Elements of Nursing Essay

Nursing as Art

However, it is equally important to acknowledge artistic elements pertinent to the practice. The most apparent of these elements is compassion. Despite the enormous significance of care delivery as one of the main goals of nursing, compassion remains one of the most critical characteristics of effective nursing practices (McCaffrey & McConnell, 2015). Specifically, it establishes an appropriate emotional climate, ensures patient involvement in the treatment process, and is evidenced to improve patient outcomes. Admittedly, the positive effect of compassion is acknowledged throughout nursing literature and is supported by evidence (McCaffrey & McConnell, 2015). However, it should be understood that while compassion can be developed through training and conscious effort, it is generally considered to be an intrinsic to human character, making it more consistent with an artistic component of nursing.Scientific and Artistic Elements of Nursing Essay

At this point, it is also necessary to acknowledge the fact that nurses are expected to choose their profession based on “calling” rather than more practical reasons. In other words, passion and involvement are to be determined by a combination of unique cultural, social, and emotional factors rather than technical skills. Admittedly, the reliance on passion is not unique to the nursing profession as it is considered an important element of satisfactory employment in almost any field. Nevertheless, when viewed in combination with other intangible elements, such as compassion mentioned above, its importance becomes evident.

It is important to point out that the list of intangible elements in nursing practice is not limited to compassion. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, only the first two categories (physiological and safety needs) are consistent with health care delivery in a clinical sense (Karnatovskaia, Gajic, Bienvenu, Stevenson, & Needham, 2015). The remaining categories require establishing emotional and psychological channels and are described in the academic literature using terms such as happiness, joy, love, fulfillment, and hope, among others (Rudolfsson, Berggren, & da Silva, 2014). While all of the specified categories are measureable through scientifically valid tools, they cannot be considered science in the strict sense, suggesting the presence of artistic element.Scientific and Artistic Elements of Nursing Essay


As can be seen from the information above, nursing exhibits elements characteristic for both science and art. The former is primarily manifested through the involvement of evidence-based practice, systematic approach to the formulation of standards, reliance on measurement, and existence of personal and organizational standards and protocols. The latter derives primarily from compassion as one of the key professional characteristics, reliance on calling in professional choices, and emphasis on intangible values such as joy and happiness, among others. While many of these categories are acknowledged in nursing literature and are measureable, their involvement is more consistent with the concept of art.

Arguably, the scientific component of nursing is both more pronounced and important as a whole. However, it would be unreasonable to dismiss the cultural, social, psychological, and emotional elements. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that nursing is both science and, to a limited degree, art.Scientific and Artistic Elements of Nursing Essay


Doenges, M. E., Moorhouse, M. F., & Murr, A. C. (2014). Nursing care plans: Guidelines for individualizing client care across the life span (9th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis Company.

 Grove, S. K., Burns, N., & Gray, J. (2014). Understanding nursing research: Building an evidence-based practice (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Karnatovskaia, L. V., Gajic, O., Bienvenu, O. J., Stevenson, J. E., & Needham, D. M. (2015). A holistic approach to the critically ill and Maslow’s hierarchy. Journal of Critical Care, 30(1), 210-211.

McCaffrey, G., & McConnell, S. (2015). Compassion: A critical review of peer‐reviewed nursing literature. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 24(19-20), 3006-3015.

Rudolfsson, G., Berggren, I., & da Silva, A. B. (2014). Experiences of spirituality and spiritual values in the context of nursing: An integrative review. The Open Nursing Journal, 8, 64-70. Scientific and Artistic Elements of Nursing Essay

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