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Many expressions fall into the category of the arts. Visual arts are the most obvious, consisting of fine arts like drawing, painting, and sculpture, as well as contemporary avenues like photography and video art. Music and dance are art forms rooted in antiquity, creative expressions that usually reflect their current culture but may also influence the next. And then, of course, there is poetry, the subject of this column.


I've had the opportunity to stand before the work of grand masters of fine art in the Netherlands. How grateful I was that these artists responded to some higher calling that set them apart from their contemporaries. Yet, as I viewed their art up close and personal, I also had the awareness that these were artists who had studied form and anatomy-the bedrock science for their craft. The combination of art and science was evident. Without months in the Royal Academy of Art in Antwerp, Belgium, sketching arms and legs and torsos, would Van Gogh's peasant farmers have been as well developed and true to life? Without his love for the peasants and his desire to recreate their lives of hardship, would the science of art have really mattered?


Listening to the symphony play Debussy's Clair de Lune and La Mer, it is easy to be transported by this French master's wandering harmonies, and easy to forget that it is highly likely his career began by learning and playing the traditional meters of scales.


So, too, with nursing. We may have initially experienced a call from God to pursue this, our chosen vocation. But then the hard part began and the learning of form and anatomy, chemistry and biology, research and statistics-necessary things we needed to know for our profession.


The art of nursing is less cerebral, more qualitative. Our patients deserve both from us, as Kristina's poem reminds us-the art and science of nursing, both "perfected skills and integrated knowledge." Her poem reminds us that poetry is an art form uniquely suited to nurses, one rooted and grounded in practices that can be taught and learned, like rhyme and meter and metaphor, but also is the product of creative imagination. When used, like nursing, in the service of others, poetry can become a gift to those called to share, even as nursing is a call to care.


Heart of Nursing

By KristinaIbitayo


Bring to God's service


your intellect and insight,


the science and art of nursing


residing now within


as practice perfected skills


and integrated knowledge.


Science can be taught,


but the elusive heart remains


within the purview of each nurse,


freely given in service


to those cared for,


made in the image of God.


In the certainty of God's will,


attuned to His heart,


soar to soul's delight,


knowing you bring a unique mix


to professional practice.


Nursing's highest form of art


is the caring heart,


God's gift to those called.


Kristina Ibitayo, PhD, RN, is a healthcare consultant in Longview, Texas. She coauthored a book on mentoring and serves on CGFNS International's Professional Nurse Credentials & Standards Committee. Her poetry has been featured in the Journal of Christian Nursing, American Nurse Today, Nursing Education Perspectives, Journal of Gerontological Nursing, and Journal of Theory Construction & Testing.


The author declares no conflict of interest.