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Tuesday November 21, 2017
Posted: Aug 25, 2015

Nursing: An art, a science and an interdisciplinary study

College Connection

In junior high, I truly discovered a love for science and I took every advanced science and math class I could throughout high school.

Two years of high school chemistry class lead me to declaring myself a chemistry major before I even arrived at the small liberal arts college where I studied. Over the years in college, I discovered I also had a love for writing, the peculiar nature of history and reality, cultural studies and religious studies. I also discovered that I could not picture myself forever in the chemistry lab, so I changed my major to that of an interdisciplinary science: foods and nutrition, a field that draws upon animal sciences, lab sciences and the complexity of the human condition.

Upon graduation, I was lucky enough to work in a medical facility as a health educator with moderately to morbidly obese patients. I was expected to role model preventative lifestyle behaviors and work alongside my patients toward their dietary and exercise goals. Often we would co-create group challenge goals of eating 10 servings fruits and vegetables/ day or exercising the equivalent of 30-40 miles of walking in a week; in addition to eating fruits and veggies and tracking exercise, the patients and I tracked our caloric intake and weight.

I never asked my participants to do any health behavior I wasn’t willing to do alongside them.

Eventually, I felt the call to nursing. I had honed my preventative health educational and coaching skills to a great degree, but in nursing I had opportunities to be kind and caring at the bedside, learn to be a good listener, and simply strive toward being present with those who were suffering. I learned the physiological science around nursing and medical interventions, and also the importance of an interdisciplinary background to provide the best care for patients through an enhanced critical thinking and problem solving capacity.

Psychology, sociology, and cultural-language studies all came to play in my years as a bedside medical-surgical nurse, and later as a hospice nurse; in California it was imperative that I understand the cultural needs of various diverse populations. I learned to work with other disciplines as well, and I realized that a committed team provides the best care, collaborating in caring manner with patients who were the center of the team.

This year at University of Maine at Augusta, we are celebrating the academic theme of “interdisciplinarity,” which recognizes how through examining phenomena from multiple disciplines and perspectives, we can enhance our understanding of others, the universe, and ourselves. In my years of working as a nurse and teaching nursing, I have come to believe that having a strong interdisciplinary background may help the nurse to reap the true rewards of caring for patients from the holistic perspectives that an interdisciplinary course of study provides.

Interdisciplinary studies hold the potential for the nurse to grow into understanding nursing as both a unique practiced art and an applied science with roots across many disciplines.

 

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