Nursing Process & Process Art

This butterfly photo has nothing to do with this post. I just like it. photo: J.Paradisi
This butterfly photo has nothing to do with this post. I just like it. photo: J.Paradisi

      I have an adulterous relationship with the word “process” and I am unashamed.

       The word process has several meanings, but I only cheat with two of its definitions.

     The first definition (according to Encarta) is a “series of actions: a series of actions directed towards a specific goal. ” This is the definition I am faithful to when nursing is my focus. I use nursing process and evidence based care in the clinical setting. While there’s room for the occasional “reasonable man” approach, most of the time the answers I need for safe and effective patient care are found in nursing policies and procedures. This issue comes up from time to time when someone wants to try something new (usually after reading an obscure study in “the literature”), before the treatment has been evaluated by the policy and procedure committee and approved.

      I know, I know, some times it feels like there’s too many rules getting in the way of what feels like good patient care. But the longer I practice nursing, the more I value  evidence based practice as a structure to build sound clinical skills upon, much like an armature for a sculpture. It ensures patients get consistent and proven treatment.  Occasionally, I have heard of nurses “cutting corners” during busy or emergent situations that can lead to more harm than good, like giving a medication that one is unfamiliar with incorrectly, instead of reading the drug information or calling the pharmacist for advice. Performing a procedure without familiarity with the hospital policy, is another example.  I know, I know, our nurse work loads are heavier by the minute, and we are busy. Taking the extra time to look up a procedure or a drug indication slows us down, but offers our patients an extra measure of safety. Becoming an Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) this year was driven by my belief in evidence based practice, patient safety, and applying both to my clinical practice.

     When my focus is art, I give another shout out to Encarta for the second definition of process, “series of natural occurrences: a series of natural occurrences that produce change or development.” I am a process painter. Unlike a nurse working to achieve a specific patient outcome, process painters may or may not have an idea of a finished image in their heads. It’s pretty vague. A surface and medium are chosen, and the artist begins to make marks, scraping and adding until an image emerges. There’s freedom in art to let an image declare itself, without putting a lot of rules or limitations on it. It’s a lovely foil to my need as a nurse to follow procedure.

     In either vocation, nursing or artist, creative use of resources is a valuable skill, but I’ll reserve my artful risk-taking for the studio.