Is it Better for a Nurse to be Skillful or Caring?
One of man’s first important inventions was the compass. A man on a journey may be able to travel far but without clear direction he is lost. Similarly, a nurse having skills without purpose is lost. To enumerate, acquiring knowledge and skills in doing something is quite different from practicing.
Moreover, human beings are neatly bound together by not only their physical aspects but also emotionally. In retrospect, Florence Nightingale, pioneer of modern nursing saw fit the essence of having a holistic approach to nursing. That is, not only applying skills but also offering emotional and spiritual support as a caregiver. In essence, this provides true healing of body, mind and soul.
Skill or Care?
Evidently, holistic approach to nursing is advocated for in the nursing profession. Certainly, having medical skills is not sufficient enough without care for your patient’s wellbeing and their families. Skills coupled with care enables the nurse to truly connect and help the patient in not only managing the physical pain but also heal emotional and psychological scars. Hence, holistic healing is accomplished.
That is to say, according to the definition of nursing, a nurse’s duty is to provide care to individuals so that they attain good health and rich quality of life. Additionally, according to the code of ethics that serves as guideline to the nursing profession, it is clearly stipulated that nurses are to provide care above all to their patients. That said, it is imperative to discuss the importance of giving care to individuals.
Firstly, Dr. Jean Watson developed a caring theory which states that nurses have to come together with their patients and develop a caring connection. This enables there to be a self-sustaining deep and trusting relationship. Hence, the patient and nurse will be connected at a personal level, resulting to the patient divulging much information that may help him or her get better treatment from the nurse (Watson 2001).
An amputee patient named Mark was brought into hospital having medication poisoning due to having taken strong drugs and lots of alcohol. Mark recovered a few hours after administration of first aid by his nurse. He stayed overnight for observation and the next morning complained of pain. His nurse knowing of his history with pain, went to the medical practitioner and requested for stronger pain medication. However, the practitioner was unwilling to change the prescription. In the long run, the nurse was able to convince the practitioner. Hence, Mark got better pain medication.
With regard to the above example, the nurse showed the four phases of caring (Tronto 1993). To explain, they are caring about, taking care of, caregiving and lastly care receiving by patients.
First, the nurse was able to implement the first phase through recognition of his patient’s pain (caring about). As a result, he was able to show initiative or responsibility for Mark (taking care of). Consequently, asking for better pain medication which was granted (caregiving). Lastly, Mark was able to receive better pain management through stronger medication (care receiving). In essence, the last bit ensures that there is continuity of trust between the care giver and patient.
In light of the above, we can clearly distinguish skill from caring and the importance of involving caring in the nursing profession. To put it differently, the practitioner applying skill rather than care was willing to just treat Mark for the amputation and not the excessive pain he was experiencing. On the other hand, Mark’s nurse having developed a caring relationship with his patient was able to go beyond obligation and administered responsibility. Hence, Mark was able to receive best care both physically and emotionally.
Furthermore, the nurse was able to apply the four elements of caring namely; attentiveness to the needs of the patient, having moral responsibility for the patient, competence in knowing what dosage of medication would suffice to diminish Mark’s pain. Lastly, care receiver responsiveness. That is, vulnerability of the patient to the nurse’s actions or lack of actions. Mark was able to get better due to his nurse’s actions which included asking for better pain medication.
Skill and caring in the nursing profession blends in together. One cannot do without the other. This is because in order to best give treatment to the patient, nurses have got to have empathy for them. Consequently, this creates good relationships facilitated by understanding. Hence, a nurse can establish best course of action in care giving.
Tronto, J. (1993). Moral boundaries: A political argument for an ethic of care. New York, NY: Routledge.
Watson, J. (2001). Jean Watson: Theory of human caring. In M.E. Parker (Ed.), Nursing theories and nursing practice (pp. 343-354). Philadelphia, PA: Davis.