Hannah Varney

Journal Learning: The Art and Science of Nursing





Journal Learning: The Art and Science of Nursing

Hannah Varney

Nursing 501: Introduction to Nursing

University of New Hampshire



Journal Learning: The Art and Science of Nursing


The idea of nursing has been around for hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years. However, nursing as we know it today has only been around since the 1800’s. The first modern-day nurse was Florence Nightingale, who was a woman who transformed the image of nursing. She changed the outlook on nursing of not only the general public, but of nurses themselves. Nursing was no longer just about taking care of sick patients, but instead about being aware of the patients’ needs and going above and beyond the basics in order to meet those needs. The nursing profession is arguably the most complex profession of health care providers. The scope of nursing includes two very different sides; it is both an art and a science.

The Science of Nursing

            The science of nursing is perhaps the most obvious. Nurses must have a good understanding of medical terms, medicine, and medical procedures in order to best care for a patient. Nurses need to know the symptoms and side effects of particular illnesses in order to understand what is happening to his or her patient and know how to properly care for and treat the patient.  Knowledge about the necessary and safe amount of drugs for a patient is very important for a nurse – it could mean the difference between life and death. As information is continually updated, nurses need to be up to date on new policies, practices, and procedures.  They also need to be equipped to use new technologies including electronic medical records and diagnostic equipment. It is very easy to see why nursing could be considered a science, and the science side of nursing is critical to caring for a patient.


The Art of Nursing

In the same way the nursing profession could be considered a science, it could also be considered an art. Nursing is more than just the knowledge of medical information. Good nurses are not only able to understand what is on a patient’s chart, but they are also able to communicate that information to the patient in a skilled and respectful way. So much of what a nurse does is centered on patient contact that interaction and communication with patients is a key skill. A good nurse is also very aware. He or she is aware of the patients needs and can tell when a patient needs something, and when the patient can or cannot handle particular things. In many ways the  nurse is more important than the doctor because the nurse is who the patient interacts with. In the eyes of a patient, the nurse is a caregiver, a listener, an advocate, and in many cases, a friend.

Episode Summaries


            From Column A, I watched an episode of ER titled “The Chicago Way.” In this episode, the police took a man into the hospital after he was found wandering the streets while drunk. He had moved away from Chicago but was in town to attend his mother’s funeral, and the hospital staff quickly found out that he had some unfinished business in the city. The United States Marshals Service had learned that the patient was at the hospital and informed Dr. Greg Pratt and Nurse Samantha “Sam” Taggart that the patient was actually involved with the mob and was now part of the Witness Protection Program. One of the agents from the U.S. Marshals told them that the patient needed to be transported from the hospital in an ambulance because the hospital was in danger of violence by housing the patient. Both Dr. Pratt and Nurse Sam volunteered to ride along in the ambulance in case something happened to the patient. In the end of the episode, the ambulance that was carrying the patient, agents, and either Dr. Pratt or Nurse Sam was blown up on the street by a bomb (Zabel, 2008).


            From Column B, I watched an episode of Scrubs titled “My Best Friend’s Mistake.” In this episode, the doctors are just starting out at the hospital and Dr. Turk gets to do his first closing of a patient during surgery. While Dr. John “J.D.” Dorian does rounds, Nurse Carla informed him that the patient who Dr. Turk closed showed signs of an infection that could point to that a tool was left in the patient during surgery.  J.D. is also interested in finding Dr. Elliot Reid, a fellow doctor that he has a crush on.  In the end, Nurse Carla finds that it was not an infection, but actually diabetes that caused the symptoms shown in the patient (Weinberg, 2001).


The Art of Nursing

            There were a few examples from each episode concerning the art of nursing.  In ER, Nurse Sam was very concerned with the patient’s health and his ability to travel in his condition.  She stood up to the doctor and the agent from the U.S. Marshals Service and questioned if transporting him away from the hospital was in the patient’s best interest. When she was informed of the entire situation and it was decided that he had to be transported, she volunteered to go in the ambulance in case the patient coded during the trip. While the episode left it unknown to the viewers if she was actually on the ambulance when it was blown up, Nurse Sam’s commitment to care for the patient may have cost her life (Zabel, 2008).

            In Scrubs, Nurse Carla updated J.D. on the patient and told him that the patient was actually diabetic and that he’s eating food. The art piece was that she told J.D. that she was going off duty soon so he should “give the patient some orange juice in an hour.” Carla was making sure her patient was cared for properly while she wasn’t there and that the other health care providers were updated on the patient’s status (Weinberg, 2001).

            These examples of the art of nursing are quite different. In the ER episode, the nurse made a serious, perhaps even grave decision in order to care for a patient, while in Scrubs, Carla made sure that her patient would be cared for while she was off duty. In both instances, however, the nurses were looking out for their patient’s needs and were making sure that they were met.

The Science of Nursing

            There were many examples of the science of nursing in each episode. In Scrubs, when the lab results said that the patient was diabetic and didn’t have an infection, Nurse Carla knew to give the patient food to raise his blood sugar and knew the effect of glucose on a patient who was diabetic (Weinberg, 2001).  An example of the science of nursing from ER is when Nurse Sam looked at the electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor of the patient after he had a heart attack, she was able to tell the doctor what the issue was based on the lines on the ECG monitor (Zabel, 2008).

            These examples of the science of nursing are similar in that the nurses had enough training in medicine to recognize and understand what the information that they were presented with meant to their patient. But in these cases, the information that they were presented with was very different. In the example from Scrubs, the nurse was using the information from lab results and from the patient’s symptoms to treat the patient. However, in the example from ER, the nurse “read” the ECG monitor and was able to discern that the patient had a heart attack. The first example used standard information to treat and diagnose the patient, and the second used newer technology to diagnose the patient.

My Views

            These examples of the art and science of nursing reinforced my ideas of nursing in many ways. The nurses portrayed in these shows were very skilled and knowledgeable in their fields and obviously took their professions very seriously. Carla knew how to treat a diabetic patient without having a doctor tell her what to do, and Sam knew how to use technology to figure out what it was telling her and knew that she had to convey it to the physician. The one thing that was different from what I had expected was how Sam volunteered to ride along on the ambulance even though the U.S. Marshal agent advised her that it could prove to be very dangerous. I don’t know if I would risk my life for a patient or if it would even be logical to risk my life in such a circumstance.


            The profession of nursing has come a long way since the time of Florence Nightingale. With the addition of technology and the strides in nursing education, nursing has become a very well respected profession. To many people, modern day nurses are considered heroes. They work hard and save lives and do it with knowledge and respect. Nurses are more than just a health care provider – they are part caregiver, part doctor-patient liaison, and part friend.


Weinberg, Eric (Writer), & Bernstein, Adam (Director). (2001). My Best Friend’s

Mistake (Television Series Episode). In B. Lawrence (Producer),  Scrubs. Los

Angeles: National Broadcasting Company.

Zabel, Lisa (Writer), & Chulack, Christopher (Director). (2008). The Chicago Way

(Television Series Episode). In T. Burns (Producer), ER. Chicago: National

Broadcasting Company. 


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: