Is Nursing An Art, A Science, Or Both?

Debra Riley


The role of nurses forms an inescapable part of modern-day health. A widely respected profession, nurses of different fields often guide us through the medical events that make up modern life.

Midwives or neonatal nurses support expectant parents, surgical or oncology nurses support when our bodies struggle with the perils of illness, and finally, geriatric nurses assist our elderly, particularly as they approach the end of their lives.

While there’s no doubt that nursing is a science, its presence in our lives, much like art, begs the question – is nursing an art form, as well as a science?

Is it so interlocked and weaved into the people that form our communities – from those that are pursuing education for neonatal nurses, to those refining their certifications in geriatric fields, that perhaps nursing is as elegantly placed as a well-positioned portrait?

Let’s explore the role of nurses in the modern-day world – and how they contribute to the transformative legacy that is left by contemporary art.

is nursing art or science

What is a Nurse?

As we begin our exploration, it’s important to consider what represents specific fields of nursing. Of course, asking ‘What is Oncology nursing?’ is just one part of the picture – understanding how a nurse can provide comfort and support during times of distress can be incredibly useful in understanding how medicine has had its influences on art.

One could argue that nursing itself is less of a physical art and more of a metaphysical representation of the world that nurses inhabit.

Medication and care can only go so far in the world of medicine – sometimes, the body breaks and there’s simply nothing we can do as individuals but support those who are suffering.

Nurses often go beyond the questions of what defines their field – rather than asking ‘What is Medical-Surgical nursing?’, instead, nurses consider the health and well-being of their patients to ensure that they are supported by their wealth of knowledge and ability to demonstrate compassionate care.

As patients, we often find ourselves supported in dire moments – with the kindness of nurses highlighting the way ahead, like a torchbearer in an Olympic relay.

The Relationship Between Art and Science

In recent years, nurses have been commended for the work that they’ve done in what has arguably been the largest public health crisis in a century – with an uplift in professionals, and many newcomers exploring how to get certified in geriatric nursing, there has been an influx of new supports in a career that has been in dire need of new nurses.

Collectively, as these new nurses have begun their careers, their ability to apply the art of nursing to their patients has been demonstrated.

Some nurses have even sought to demonstrate the issues that they face in the workplace through social media, such as TikTok videos that explore the mental health of nurses through lighthearted comedy.

This extension of care and compassion beyond the hospital highlights just how far nurses are willing to go to not only support their patients but to also reach out to other communities that may also need support.

future nursing

The Future of Nursing

There is no doubt that nurses and their role in society will only become more important over time. As we age as a nation, there’s no doubt that there’ll be a greater need for care at both ends of our lives – with some estimates predicting that the nursing workforce will grow to more than 4.54 million nursing staff by 2030, up 1.2 million in just a decade.

It will be imperative for those who are currently teaching and engaging with junior nurses to reinforce the expectation that nurses are more than just their test scores.

To maintain a high quality of care in the community, informing nurses of their role as community leaders will not have to be common knowledge, but it will need to be well dispersed.

As more and more roles open up in nursing, and we continue to see the departure of more and more older nurses, there is a risk that the knowledge of the art of nursing will be lost between generations.

science of nursing

To Finish

Ultimately, the future of nursing is a challenging one. Maintaining the nursing knowledge between generations will not only be critical, but essential in maintaining the level of care that has been given in previous generations of nurses.

With a little bit of patience and an open mind for learning, today’s nursing students are not only up for the challenge, but likely to succeed.