Albert L Collins

November 2013


I believe this about nursing... "Nursing is spending time assessing the total needs of a patient to increase overall health."
The best way to describe what nursing means to me is to explain how I see it differing from the other key part of the heath care community, medicine. Medicine is focused on doing a thorough analysis of what is wrong with patient and following what is the accepted best course action to fix the patient, not to be pejorative, but like a car mechanic fixes an auto. This means by the book. Nursing is necessarily a holistic approach to caring for patients to increase the patient’s health by not only clinical expertise, but possibly more importantly, spending time assessing the total needs of a patient to increase overall health.

I had an assignment at the beginning of my first semester to write an essay on my “aha moments” after reading From Novice to Expert, by Patricia Benner. My professor was naturally quite nonplused when I asked her, “What if I didn’t have any aha moments?” I have reread this book after my first semester and I realize now I really was clueless as to the true nature of nursing. I thought that the obsession nurses have with Florence Nightingale was fundamentally flawed because she never believed in the germ theory. This fact seemed to be an inexcusable deficiency in her nursing practice. The science of the germ theory was being well established during her career.

Now I see I was completely missing the point of nursing! Florence Nightingale possessed what my professor Dr. Wilt referred as “intuition.” I was not getting this entire concept of nursing at the time. My paradigm shift occurred when I saw my clinical professor Mrs. Nancy Brom in practice in the hospital, and she was amazing. I saw RNs asking her questions and she would patiently allow each nurse to work through the learning process because I could tell that she knew that is the best way for nurses to learn. Specifically to learn and gain that intangible intuition that I did not previously believed existed. I was very, very wrong! And for everyone who knows me, that is a very difficult thing for me to admit!

In summation, Nursing is clinical expertise AND that intangible intuition that are each essential to be a quality nurse. I plan on working hard at gaining that intuition in the last 2 semesters at Duquesne University; I am certain that RWJS NCIN program will help immensely in this endeavor.