The Caring Side of Nursing

April 19, 2012

Very few people enter the nursing profession because they think it will make them rich. If they wanted to make bank they would become doctors. Although the field of nursing is one that continues to grow even in times of recession, and there could be a rash of people looking to become nurses simply because it is one of the few industries that has jobs available these days (and the amount of schooling required can be less than other degrees), the truth is that the majority of people who go into nursing do so because they have a desire to help others. And despite the fact that nursing, as a profession, tends to focus on the technical aspects of medicine, and practicing it often necessitates working quickly and dispassionately (especially with the massive amounts of paperwork required for legal and billing purposes), still there is a core virtue that exists amongst most people who become nurses; they care about the patients they are caring for.

In “Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring, Revised Edition”, Jean Watson waxes poetic about “the foundation, the soul, the core and essence of nursing”, of which she describes caring about patients, rather than simply for them, as the main tenet. The original version of her ground-breaking book was released more than thirty years ago (published in 1979) and over time it became a classic, helping generation after generation of working nurses to treat patients with humanity, kindness, and compassion. In this updated version, Watson begins by reaffirming that a caring nurse must first and foremost harbor a love of mankind, including a love of self. She goes on to say that her goal in updating this treasured tome is to help those in the nursing profession to remember what brought them there in the first place, as well as impart the transformative events that have helped to change and shape her views over the last three decades, in some cases affirming previous notions and in other cases helping to clarify them.

Her main goal, with both the previous edition of this book and the updated iteration, is to introduce nursing theory (which was practically unheard of at the time of the first publishing) and “bring new meaning and dignity” to the art and science of caring for patients. Although most of her advice is based on her own philosophical and intellectual opinions, Watson clearly has a background in the field from which she derives her own understanding of the challenges and goals faced by the nursing profession as a whole, and by individual nurses in the course of their duties.

Unfortunately, her clinical background at times undermines her message, and some may find this audio book a bit hard to follow as a result. Watson relies heavily on technical language at some points in the narrative, using phrases and terms that those not schooled in nursing may have a hard time following. You don’t necessarily have to run out and pass the NCLEX to glean an understanding of the content, but honestly, those without any knowledge of medical fields may struggle at times. However, her underlying message about the importance of a caring attitude in the field of nursing will not be lost on most listeners. So even those that simply have a passing interest in the subject matter will likely still enjoy the bulk of this informative and enlightening audio book.

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