Nursing Through the Lifespan
Nurses Association of New Brunswick Centennial Tryptich
I began painting professionally in 2005, after completing my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Mount Allison University. Since my earliest exhibit, my subject matter has reflected day to day life: I paint images of places and people I know.
After completing my B.F.A., I continued to paint and exhibit, and balanced my solitary work in the studio with customer service jobs. I enjoyed customer service, work that helped people, and this lead me to consider and eventually pursue a career in Nursing. Becoming a Registered Nurse was as challenging and rewarding as I hoped, both the science and the art. For instance, an RN is not only expected to understand and assess physical pathology, but is also expected to care about the emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing of patients. This balance, this sensitivity, is the art of nursing.
Painting and nursing may seem very different; painting is solitary, nursing is collaborative, nursing is providing care for the sick, painting is creating a decorative object. But they both require attention and reflection and time to grow from novice to expert. Both require critical thinking, and creativity. In nursing this is applying the nursing process, assessment to evaluation, to different facets of health, and in painting this is observing life around you, and rendering it on canvas with paint and brushes.
My painting and nursing work also has a synergetic relationship. Art is a way to meditate on my experience as a nurse through imagery, reflections which in turn add depth to my nursing practice. A reassuring hand on someones back, for example, is a way to visually represent the Nurse’s role to provide empathy, connection, and support to patients. Reflecting on this care is reflecting on a fundamental part of Nursing. Nurse theorist Jean Watson, who developed the Theory of Human Caring, reflects, “It is when we include caring and love in our work and our life that we discover and affirm that nursing…is more than just a job, but a life-giving and life-receiving career”.
Having time to be creative, to paint, is something I enjoy very much. It is exciting to choose an image that tells a story about life, to use my hands to craft that image onto a canvas.
I notice nurses are a creative group of people. Whether it’s music, visual art, cooking, crafts, writing, they bring their attention, care, and creativity to endeavours outside of Nursing. Having a creative outlet is a form of play, and expression, and it’s something that brings joy to life, and can help make sense of it too.