In nursing school, courses in statistics, the nursing process, pathophysiology, management, community health, and other salient subjects are taught to those seeking a career as a nurse.
However, there are other subjects that equally inform a nurse’s knowledge base and expertise; these non-nursing areas hold significant importance for the earnest nurse seeking a well-rounded intellect, whether that knowledge is acquired in the classroom, between the covers of a magazine, or on the street.
A complex world
Life and healthcare in the 21st century are increasingly complex; nurses can be faced with challenging cultural situations, ethical dilemmas, complicated family structures, and vast socioeconomic and political trends. Nurses seeking to develop a more diverse knowledge base are naturally curious; such knowledge will assist the nurse in understanding patients with differing views than her own.
Changes in laws related to gender equality and identity, shifting sands related to family planning, and evolving social mores and values all impact healthcare delivery. Thoughtful nurses keep abreast of the ever-changing world in which they live and work, adjusting and learning as healthcare evolves with the times.
Patients have become more discerning and proactive, and nurses can more readily meet their patients’ needs by understanding the context in which care is delivered.
A broad base of knowledge
The understanding of human behavior is essential for nurses; while there is much to be learned in the classroom setting, there are other sources of new theories and ideas about why humans behave as they do. Novels, theater, film, and television all offer insight into the human condition, as do poetry, painting, and social media.
Volunteering at the local homeless shelter may help a particular nurse be more sensitized to the plight of local families. Another nurse may seek to learn how inner city farmers’ markets can connect urban children with the source of their nutrition.
The nurse who seeks out varied avenues for the understanding of culture, society, and history can observe patients and their families with a greater sense of nuance.
Nurse, know thyself
Self-knowledge is yet another frontier for nurses to explore; this can be achieved through volunteerism, introspective writing, psychotherapy or counseling, or classes in painting or gardening. Increased self-knowledge and self-acceptance can lead to increased tolerance of, and compassion for, others, as well as increased satisfaction and a sense of connection to people and place.
Knowledge is power
Knowledge is indeed power, as the saying goes, and that knowledge can be both internal (self-knowledge) and external (book learning or experiential learning). Both are important, and both help the nurse to be more well-rounded and astute.
No matter the stage of your nursing career, continue to seek greater knowledge, experience, understanding, and compassion; these will empower both your nursing practice and your sense of satisfaction as a member of your local, regional, national, and global communities.
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist for Nurse.com. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. He can be found at NurseKeith.com.
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