Utilizing the arts in healthcare: an arts based curriculum for the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing
Traditionally, nursing education has been conservative and conventional, but practicing registered nurses must meet the challenge of existing barriers in nursing education in order to achieve and maintain competency and excellence in continually changing healthcare systems, and nurse educators must take advantage of innovative methods of educational delivery. This dissertation discusses and evaluates a curriculum that was developed for the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing that brings art education into the scientific realm of nursing education. Formal study and exploration of the arts in healthcare presents opportunities to expand the knowledge base of nursing students and to increase their empathy and understanding of the lived experience of their patients. The course is designed to examine and incorporate benefits discussed in scholarly literature on the arts in healthcare. Attitudes, values, and ethics can be explored through reflective thinking and guided discovery, which, in turn, can stimulate critical thinking, creativity, and inquisitiveness. The value of including the study of the arts in nursing education is that it can encourage self-analysis, promote reflection, and stimulate debate on difficult issues, such as death, dying and the grief process, psychological and physical pain, psychological and physical dependence, and guilt and anger. As nurses become more aware of their own psychological and emotional responses to art, greater understanding of patient response to art interventions is more likely. This, in turn, can encourage the nursing professional to be more sensitive to the complex psychological states of the nurse-patient relationship. Finally, transdisciplinarity offers a method of analysis that can be used to investigate and explore the complicated, multi-faceted role of the arts in healthcare.