Humanities And The Nursing Profession

dls2The study of Humanities may not come as an integral subject to a nursing student. At the outset, it doesn’t cater at all to what nursing is all about. It is only one of those minor subjects that a nursing student has to go through before graduation.

But delving deeper into it, a nursing student may soon find out that the inclusion of Humanities in the curriculum has its own function.

Humanities is the study of human culture. It covers a whole range of topics from history, communication, law, and even anthropology. It has found its way into the nursing field so that nurses will be able to understand why certain people react to certain situations.

That is that inherent use of Humanities in a nursing course. When a nurse could surmise how his patient viewed his illness or how he accepted his own diagnosis, that nurse has his study of human culture functioning within the confines of nursing. It might be just a prerequisite to a nursing degree, but because of its all-encompassing nature, the subject will enable aspiring nurses to get by the conventions of nursing, especially when faced with important decisions.

As in the case of a patient’s history, which include his medical condition in the past. If a nurse could see some patterns in the past in relation to his present illness, then that nurse has done his job quite well. So, the study of Humanities has its own reason for being in the nursing curriculum. It has found its calling in there by helping neophyte nurses, especially when they are faced with medical issues, and laying the predicate for a much more comprehensive diagnosis. Humanities are no longer an ornament in a particular course, it is also helping nurses to become well-rounded medical specialists.

Studying the Humanities    

DLSWhy is studying the Humanities important? Many have asked that question because to be honest many have also argued that studying the liberal arts or the humanities in general is a complete waste of time. Others would even argue that the Humanities are the unwise path for college students to take because non-technical degrees tend to have unemployment rates compared to those who are studying to be engineers, accountants, or business people.

Dr. Elwood Watson, in his article at diverseeducation.com, has discussed why studying the humanities always will be important. Dr. Watson said, “To minimize the value of the humanities, or any other area of academic inquiry for that matter, to one’s ability to earn an ample salary is to misunderstand the purpose of what such an education is about.”

The humanities provide students with the ability and vital ingredients necessary to think critically and holistically about an overabundance of issues, including business, science and technology for that matter. And, in an article by Scott Samuelson of the Wall Street Journal, businesses and employers were aggressively seeking to employ graduates who possessed “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems.” Therefore, discrediting the argument of some about the irrelevance of the humanities and how students who study it will not earn as much as those who study other hard sciences.

In addition, Clayton State University, on its departmental website, listed the top 10 reason for people to study the humanities:

  • To practice the analytical thinking skills you need to be a successful student and employee.
  • To improve your skill at oral and written communication.
  • To see the interconnectedness of all areas of knowledge ― how it all fits together.
  • To develop a global perspective by studying cultures throughout the world.
  • To deepen your understanding and appreciation of other’s cultures and other’s points of view.
  • To support and strengthen your local arts community by learning to appreciate the importance of creativity.
  • To clarify your values by comparing and contrasting them to what others have thought.
  • To deepen your sources of wisdom by learning how others have dealt with failures, success, adversities, and triumphs.
  • To appreciate what is enduring and to be able to tell the difference between the meaningless and the meaningful.
  • To be inspired by some of the greatest minds and thoughts of the ages.

The humanities are the cornerstone of any and complete well-rounded education because it provides a good, solid foundation in critical thinking skills. The importance of the humanities should not be dismissed.

The Significance of Humanities in Nursing

Humanities is the study of human culture. The humanities include human language (ancient or modern), history, literature, law, religion, philosophy and music.  Scholars in humanities are commonly called humanists. A lot of schools and universities offer humanities classes consisting of English literature, arts, and global studies. Nursing education can be counted as one. Thus, nursing students ask how important is humanities to their chosen profession.

HospitalNursing is often defined as both an art and science, but humanities have been hesitatingly been studied in the nursing curricula. However, outbreaks of interest in what is called the “nursing humanities” have become obvious. For instance, literary works are rich sources of not only of information, but illumination as well. The study of art, included in the humanities, can make an important contribution to a nurses’ various ways of knowing what is factual. There are also other complementary ways of knowing like ethical and aesthetical, both included in humanities.

Arts and literature give a meaningful learning experience for nursing students. With their nature, students are encouraged to make discussions made up of different interpretations. This kind of interaction allows participants to learn in ways that call forth new ways of thinking.

There are numerous works of literature and arts that provide rich food for the spirit. Also, it gives insight into the nurse-patient relationship and into an individual’s condition.  Good literature enhances language concepts, words, and vision of human existence. To have a pool of vocabulary is needed to support a patient care. Today, we are suffering from a scarcity in vocabulary which cannot support appropriate discussions of the moral problems and crises that confront humans.

This confronts the relevance of the humanities to nursing. The concepts included in the said study can reflect upon nursing practitioners and education.

Humanities and Medicine

Medical humanities is an interdisciplinary field of medicine consisting of the humanities, social sciences and the arts. When we say humanities, it involves different studies like the literature, religion, ethics, philosophy, and history. Social sciences, on the other hand, involve cultural studies, psychology, anthropology, sociology, health, and geography. While the arts include theater, literature, film as well as visual arts. These subjects are used to determine the application and relation of specific factors in health and medicine.

humanitiesMedical humanities is also understood to be an interdisciplinary, and increasingly international undertaking that pulls on the innovative and intellectual skills of diverse disciplines, including literature, art, creative writing, drama, film, music, philosophy, ethical making decisions, anthropology, and history, in pursuit of medical educational goals. This approach to medicine is a wider and generalized view on how individuals are affected by many elements surrounding us.

The health care system recognizes the value of the humanities in preparing health care professionals to tackle the learning and practice of medicine. The interdisciplinary humanities educate students to check out the historical, linguistic, cultural and aesthetic contexts in which we live. It also allows students to discover and attend more fully to the lasting question of what it is to be human and think deeply and critically and react successfully to the complex situations by which we find ourselves.

The intellectual practices of the humanities, along with the expertise in creating a capstone research and studies that deals with the intersection of the humanities and medicine, have the potential to affect students in many ways that will increase their future performance as physicians managing and reaching patients drawn from across different life circumstances and contexts.

Combining Medicine and Humanities

You do not have to be a biology major to be a physician. Specializing in the humanities and being pre-med can be both possible and achievable. To help learners in those areas, Wake Forest has lately released the Interdisciplinary Humanities Pathway to Medicine program or IHPM that allows learners who major in the humanities guaranteed admittance to Wake Forest University of Medicine upon completing this program. Applications must involve two faculty recommendation letters and an article. A maximum of five learners will be approved by IHPM for this program at the end of their sophomore year.

Humanities-in-MedicineThe guiding committee for this program includes director of the Wake Forest students and put in interdisciplinary humanities Tom Phillips, director of the Wake Forest humanities institute Mary Foskett, director of the health professions program Pat Lord from the Reynolda Campus and Sean Ervin, Gail Cohen and David Grier (associate dean of admission) of Wake Forest University of Medicine. “The program appeared from a year-long interdisciplinary discussion that started among WFU staff and directors in the college and at the School of Medicine,” said Foskett. Medical school admissions are certainly aggressive. Wake Forest Medical School generally gets over 8,000 programs per cycle for 120 available seats. However, there is an increasing interest in expanding the higher education student body.

“When I look at somebody, I think, ‘are they going to bring something into the class that is different?’” said Grier. “With this program, you definitely bring something different into the class. This program will promote a different type of variety in instructors we do not usually get.” While humanities learners add an exclusive viewpoint to medicine, staff stress that IHPM is not the only road to an effective medical profession. “It should be highlighted that our program is one road to medicine. We’re not saying that it’s the best road,” said Foskett. The current field of medicine, however, identifies the significance of the holistic approach. “We want to move away from the mechanistic way of considering medicine,” said Ervin. “We’ve kind of lost touch with this other way of considering the person.” Faculty also highlight that this program is a mutual connection between the college student and the medical school. Thus, while the medical school will guarantee approval, there is a firm dedication expected from the student.