The Significance Of Knowledge In Nursing

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A discipline is defined as “a particular area of study, especially a subject studied at a college or university” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2018). Donaldson & Crowley (1978) stated that this discipline encompasses a basis of knowledge that is applicable to every aspect of the professional practice. Nursing is known as a scientific profession based on research, theory and concepts, centred on the art of caring and focused on health care outcomes (Jasmine, 2009). In this letter I will address the importance of knowledge in nursing, touching on the science of it, the importance of nursing as a profession, and the advancement of technology, including challenges it brings and how the study of the discipline of nursing will help to address this.

Firstly, nursing knowledge is the basis of which we stem our practice from. It is a very important part of guiding professional nurses and providing a justification for the practices of nurses (Butts, Rich & Fawcett, 2012). Without the knowledge attained from the discipline of nursing, a professional nurse cannot apply nursing to a societal perspective (Donaldson & Crowley, 1978). Watson (2017) stated that the professional individuality of nursing knowledge is derived from all nursing models collectively taking a position on disciplinary knowledge. Without the abovementioned identity, comprehensibility of the discipline, and determination in sustaining and upholding the development of nursing knowledge, nursing may cease to exist (Watson, 2017).

While knowledge on its own outlines the theoretical and practical part of nursing, (Ranjbar, Joolaee, Vedadhir & Abbasszadeh 2018) found that nursing students’ level of moral capabilities advances as experience in clinical practice, as well as exposure to academic and theoretical knowledge progresses. Hence, (Ranjbar et al, 2018) suggests that ensuring that appropriate content in nursing students’ curricula for each level be essential to enable the students to be allowed to explore situations that will help to enhance their moral competencies. This therefore emphasizes the need for nurses to study the discipline of nursing, as having the ability to make decisions based on ones morals is crucial in the practice of nursing.

As I have learnt in my previous semester, evidence based practice is important in the advancement and progression of nursing as a profession. Jasmine (2009) stated that professional nurses us evidence from evidence based practice to make informed decisions when it comes to providing patient care for individuals, instead of intuition or habit, and that evidence based practice has taken over the practice of trial and error, hence optimising evaluation of patient outcomes, development of practice and knowledge, and advancement in nursing as a profession. One of Florence Nightingale’s assumptions is that nursing and medicine are separate from each other (Smith and Parker 2015). This has been reinforced through the decades, where the practice of nursing, its theories and knowledge, are seen as independent from the study of medicine. Often times however, one may not be able to recognise the discipline of nursing as a body of knowledge that is isolated from the doings of practitioners, and this has led to the perception that nursing is a vocation rather than a profession (Donaldson and Crowley 1978).

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Watson (2017) summarised in her editorial that without the disciplinary knowledge and practice as the foundation, nursing can easily be led by the pressure from the hospital to adjust to medicalised way in which it perceives humanity. This technical view of the way humans experience illnesses and health contrasts the disciplinary teachings of nursing. Hence, the study of the discipline of nursing is important, as it gives knowledge importance, no matter the time, to be used anywhere (Litchfield & Jónsdóttir 2008), and therefore allows nursing students to realise that nursing knowledge is a study on its own, which will reinforce nursing as a profession. This brings me to my next point, which will be how I believe that the art of nursing is as necessary as nursing knowledge, and how a balance will help to propel nursing as a profession. Melosh (1976) said that nurses possess the inborn ability, which could not be taught, to provide care for the sick, and this was work beyond just the routine practice of professional skills. Throughout a nurse’s day at work, one would aim to achieve balance between both an extensive set of professional skills and caring behaviours.

Sumner (2008) believes that professional fulfilment is achieved when one is committed to maintaining this balance, which keeps the caring in nursing. A very large factor affecting whether or not nursing is viewed as a profession or a vocation, is society. In today’s society, the general public would often define a nurse as someone who takes care of ill patients and help them recover (Jasmine, 2009). However, Jasmine (2009) mentions that this inaccurately depicts nursing as a goal orientated mechanical duty, as what nursing truly is, is an intricate unification of the art and science. As such, we must convince society that nursing knowledge promises to improve the situation of living and healthcare for humans, and this is essential to the welfare of the general public. Additionally, we must also ensure that society recognises the value of care, as it is the foundation that the discipline of nursing stands on. But before we can convince society, nurses must first be convinced.

The reason why nursing students need to study the discipline of nursing, is because they need to understand the importance of nursing as a study on its own, as failure to do so would result in confusion over their roles, and even the rejection of unique nursing knowledge as the foundation of their practice (Butts, Rich & Fawcett, 2012). Butts et al. (2012) even said that this combination of roles in practice may even eradicate the necessity of a nursing programme. However, this can be easily tackled when nurses make the effort to study about the models and theories in nursing (Butts et al, 2012) Finally, I would like to talk about technology and globalisation. With the world becoming more technologically dependent and with more upcoming gadgets in healthcare, it is no wonder that many people are questioning whether or not the presence of so much technology is a positive thing when it comes to nursing, especially when many people believe that it hinders the artistic side of nursing. I personally do not believe that technology has a negative impact on nursing practice, but this is only if nurses fully understand the discipline of nursing, and are therefore able to articulate its teachings despite the use of technology. Donaldson & Crowley (1978) said that the whole structure of the discipline of nursing needs to be continually re-evaluated when it comes to the needs of society, as well as in accordance to scientific discoveries along the way. This is inevitable as we have made technology the representation of not only scientific progress, but also professional development (Barnard & Sandelowski, 2001).

However, Barnard and Sandelowski (2001) also stated that human care and technology are not necessary opposites, but can be combined intentionally to provide care for a patient. Furthermore, if we keep perceiving technology and humane care as two entities on opposite ends of a spectrum, it will hinder view of nursing as a profession. Thus, Grootjans & Newman (McMurray, 1999) stated that in order for nursing to survive as a profession, we must be able to integrate the universal natural balance of technology and globalisation into the way the nurses interpret the discipline of nursing. If nursing students are able to fully study and internalise the discipline of nursing and then combine it and find a balance with the use of technology, Barnard & Sandelowski (2001) have identified that technology is not necessarily the opposite of touch, but can instead be a catalyst of touch. In conclusion, I believe that it is important to study the discipline of nursing as nurses need to be able to understand the art and science of nursing, and to find a balance in order to fully encompass what it means to be a nurse. Nurses must understand the importance of knowledge, research and evidence based practice, in order to be the next generation of scholarly nurses which will make more findings and further improve patient care. Once this is achieved, nurses will then be able to incorporate what they know into nursing and the world as it is today, integrating the discipline of nursing into the technology that is all around us, therefore being able to provide optimal care for their patients.

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