Nursing Profession Overview


Nursing is a profession widely recognized both as the art and science. The main goal and focus of nursing is the care provision, which is the foundation for the theoretical structure of this area of health service. Caring and nursing are united with a practical understanding through a valuable connection between a medical professional and patient. Approaches that are utilized are challenging nurses to maintain the model, art and a high level of care in their everyday practice as the ethical center of their profession.

This requires the application of science and art with the help of academic concepts, scientific studies and researches, intentional devotion to the art of caring as the core of the profession, as well as determined attempts to involve actions of care during all of the nurse-patient contacts. This paper is aimed to approach nursing as both the art and science. This will be performed in order to explore challenges related to caring in nursing.

Nursing: An Art or Science?

The concept that nursing is built on nowadays has existed for thousands of years. As people have been getting infections and sicknesses in the earliest times, the others around them attempted to provide the care and ease their sufferings or somehow release their pain. Nevertheless, nursing was established as a profession that people are familiar with today only around the 1800s. It is considered that the first individual to identify and set nursing apart from other professions in the medical field was Florence Nightingale. She has been a valuable historical figure for decades as this individual drastically transformed and re-created the concept and image of nursing.

Florence Nightingale was able to change not only the opinion of others on this profession, but also change the attitude, with which nurses viewed themselves as medical professionals and functions that they performed. With her contribution, nursing stopped being solely about taking care of sick patients. Instead, it developed and grew into the necessary awareness of patients’ needs and requirements, as well as the performance of every possible action and procedure in order to meet those demands.


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In the modern world, the nursing profession is one of the most complex healthcare provision fields (Sheu, 2013). Even at the superficial first impression level, it is possible to determine nursing as an area with a lot of aspects, details, and dimensions. As a complex occurrence, it has both the art and science.

It is possible to overlook the significance of nurses and think of physicians as the primary care providers at a medical institution. It often happens that nursing is not considered a manual labor due to the lack of information that the patients obtain about the profession. The mass media often shows a nurse as a medical professional, who is discontent with his or her salary, who is not a ‘real’ doctor and who wants to become one. It is important to realize that this, quite popular in the past years, image is distorted. In recent decades, the image of a nurse was substantially transformed and modified, creating an image of satisfaction, nobility, and feeling a reward that this vital profession brings to its representatives.

While the main functions of a doctor include but are not limited to the diagnosis, prescription of treatment and medications, as well as the performance of certain complicated surgeries or procedures, everything in-between becomes the responsibility of a nurse. It is clear that nursing is a highly gracious profession as numerous public surveys expose that nurses are among the top trusted and respected medical professionals, regardless of their prior underestimated and distorted image. In the modern medical institution, a nurse is an undeniable member of the team that works for the benefit of the patient.

Despite the already mentioned Florence Nightingale being associated with the profession, there is nothing glamorous or simple about caring for patients in need. This means, that while Florence Nightingale and the historical materials that are connected to her and other historical representatives of the profession expose the art part of this complex profession, in reality, that part is rather superficial. The art of nursing makes caring seem so easy, while the process itself is quite difficult and has a solid educational scientific foundation.

Everyone, who has ever been to any medical institution, knows the functions performed by nurses. They execute necessary procedures – take one’s blood sample, measure blood pressure and pulse. Besides that, depending on the condition of a patient, nurses can provide the support and care in everything that a patient requires. It happens a lot that an individual cannot clean himself, requires a personal hygiene, or cannot move, and that is when nurses step in and do all the necessary work. Even the simplest tasks can become a problem for a patient. In the everyday environment of a hospital or any other care facility, nurses and nursing professionals supply almost all the care provision (Hayes, 2013).

The Science of Nursing

The science is considerably easy to find in nursing, as it probably is the most obvious and logical part of this profession. Although it may seem that nurses do not perform actions as complicated as some doctors do, education is a pivotal part of becoming and being a nurse.

Nurses must obtain a perfect comprehension of medical terms that are utilized in the medical setting every minute (Orem & Taylor, 2011). They have to be aware of the processes that happen in an organism of a human being from anatomy to chemistry and physiology. This means that they have to be able to feel just as confident and obtain the same knowledge on matters of medicine as professional physicians and surgeons.

Nurses also have to be acquainted with all of the procedures that they are required to perform in the medical setting, as well as understand what has to be performed by the physician in order to make the condition of the patient better. The nursing profession requires knowledge and awareness of various symptoms and signs of diseases, side effects and possible outcomes in order to understand what is happening to the patient on each step of the medical care provision. This is necessary to adequately provide the care, procedures and treatment that the individual needs.

Knowledge of the details and scientific foundation is crucial not only for the practice of any nurse but also because patients often ask questions about their condition and are willing to be educated on matters of their own health. Besides being aware about the human organism, nurses also have to possess the pharmaceutical knowledge. They have to learn and be acquainted with the necessary medications and their dosages, and how to apply them for a certain patient. This knowledge can mean the difference between a positive and negative outcome.

As the medical world is constantly progressing and moving forward, it is impossible to learn once and be a good medical professional for the rest of one’s life. Therefore, nurses, just like physicians, have to constantly update their knowledge on medications, policies, procedures, and practices. It is also vital to obtain the knowledge necessary for the utilization of the newest equipment and technologies such as electronic records, databases, and diagnostic equipment. Therefore, it is absolutely clear that nursing obtains a considerable scientific part, which is valuable for the benefit of a patient, and can be considered a science in itself.

The Art of Nursing

In a similar way as nursing can be considered a science, this profession also has an image of being a form of the art. If nurses only obtained the rough data and up-to-date information, there would be no widely discussed complex elements that belong to this profession and make it so vital for patients. It is much more than just the awareness and knowledge of medical scientific data.

Outstanding nurses are never limited to only understanding a patient’s condition through the diagnosis results and papers they receive about the patient and his or her condition (Myrick, Yonge, Billay, & Luhanga, 2011). In fact, in some critical cases, medical professionals have to perform actions so rapidly they only read the most crucial information off the chart, leaving out all the rest. Nursing professionals are much more than that; as they are able to have conversations and develop a connection with the patient, communicate with him or her in a substantially professional and trustworthy manner.

Almost everything that a nurse does is focused and centered on the patient and his or her condition. That is why a profound and thorough communication, as well as a relationship built between the nurse as a medical care provider and a patient, is the key to success in most of the cases presented in the everyday medical practice.

A professional and successful nurse is always highly aware of the environment around the patient. This kind of professional knows the information about the patient not solely from the chart or conversations. The obtained knowledge and experience enable the nurse to analyze any information and derive conclusions that influence his or her every action.

A good nurse is also exceptionally aware of the patients needs. He or she can tell when a patient requires something, when the patient can or cannot handle particular things, and so on. In many ways, the nurse is much more crucial than the physician (Jasmine, 2009). In the eyes of a patient, the nurse is a caregiver, a listener, an advocate, and in many cases, a friend.

This way, it is impossible to say whether the profession of nursing is an art or science (Taylor, Lillis, LeMone, Lynn, 2011). It contains, unites and exists on the foundation created by the symbiosis of both. Without one or the other, the practice of nursing would simply be incomplete.


Hayes, R. (2013, July 19). Nursing is an art and a science. Retrieved from

Jasmine, T. (2009, December). Art, science or both? Keeping the care in nursing. Nurs Clin North Am, 44(4), 415-421.

Myrick, F., Yonge, O., Billay, D. B., & Luhanga, F. L. (2011). Preceptorship: Shaping the art of nursing through practical wisdom. The Journal of Nursing Education, 50(3), 134-139.

Orem, D. E., & Taylor, S. G. (2011). Reflections on nursing practice science: The nature, the structure, and the foundation of nursing sciences. Nursing Science Quarterly 24(1), 35-41.

Sheu, S. J. (2013). Exploration of nursing art and aesthetic experiences: Cross-disciplinary links and dialogues. The Journal of Nursing, 60(4), 26-32.

Taylor, C. R., Lillis, C., LeMone, P., & Lynn, P. (2011). Study guide for fundamentals of nursing: The art and science of nursing care (7th ed.). Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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