The Creative Nurse

The Creative Nurse

Patient care can be tough work that doesn’t always have a happy ending. Expressing yourself creatively can help you deal with those situations. Read on to hear from nurses who have found a way to do just that.

  • Laugh, nurse, laugh!

    Victor Borge, the famous Danish comedian, pianist, and conductor once said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” Infusing laughter and humor into your work life is a powerful tool that can improve communication, reduce stress, foster cohesiveness, and boost overall performance and staff engagement. (See It starts with a smile.) Read more…

  • From our readers…Two Poems

    poem nurse future guardian hospital corridorNursing's Future & Hospital Corridor by Kristina Ibitayo is clinical assistant professor at University of Texas at Arlington College of Nursing.

    Nursing’s Future

    The future of nursing Lies in the past, With lessons learned Read more…

  • A nurse-poet writes what she knows

    nurse writing poem child death schoolI started writing poetry in grammar school in Harvey, North Dakota. Our curriculum emphasized writing and poetry—I still have the anthology we used. Throughout college, nursing school, and my first clinical positions, I continued to write poetry. With my first academic position at Salve Regina College in Newport, Rhode Island, my writing segued to the academic. My major creative outlet was writing editorials and historical pieces about nurses and nursing. I tried writing fiction, short stories, children’s books, but kept returning to what I know best—nursing. Read more…

  • Eye of the beholder: Grand rounds at the museum

    "What do you see in his eyes?" asks Dr. Rothenberg. After a brief pause, someone replies, "He looks sad." Another states, "He’s kind of emaciated." After directing us to look just below the left eyelid, Dr. Rothenberg asks, "Do you see a sign of a scar?" Several of us nod. She tells us this scar is a remnant of trachoma, also called Egyptian ophthalmia. This clinical scrutiny is taking place not at the bedside of a teaching hospital Read more…

  • Clinical experience, poetic expression

    parkinsons man terry practitioner nurseA registered nurse since 1982, Terry A. Hess has worked as an Adult Nurse Practitioner at the Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee for 14 years. He is a Primary Care Provider for about 650 veterans, ranging from ages 22 to 90. Commenting on his creative writing process, Terry says, “I am often surprised by the words that appear on the page, unsure from where they arise. But when they come together in the right way, it’s a savored moment.” “Parkinson’s” is based on his work and a personal experience. Read more…

  • Reflection

    reflection bald hair changeHair, she mused looking at her reflection, What is it really? Just dead cells growing out of one’s head. Yet, she had spent countless hours caring for it, and many dollars improving it. Stores are full of products just for hair. But really, what is the significance of hair? Men go bald—sometimes by choice, Sometimes by genes. Some of them deal with it well And wear their pates with pride, While others do the combover— Either way, society seems content. Read more…

  • Stress-Reducing Creativity

    While art therapy is its own field, you can use the benefits of art to express your creative side and drawing skills to reduce stress and get in touch with your feelings. I think most of us knew this instinctively as kids: virtually all of us know the joys of sculpting something (with play-dough), painting… Read more…

  • From our readers: Harp song — A journey to remember and embrace the heart of nursing

    From our readers: Harp song — A journey to remember and embrace the heart of nursing“The aim of all spiritual paths, no matter their origin or the rigors of their practice, is to help us live more fully in the lives we are given. In this way, whatever comes from a moment’s grace that joins us to our lives and to each other – this is spiritual.” — Parker J. Palmer We never know when the lens through which we see our roles as nurses will widen to reveal a new spark of possibility for caring and an opportunity to deepen our spiritual awareness through this most remarkable profession. Even when we decide to leave the clinical setting or retire, we still remain “nurses” because in large measure, this is the essence of who we are called to be in this world. Read more…

  • From our readers…A cycle of caring

    nurse care caring present heartIt began a long time ago A woman walks through the dark room, with just a candle to light her way The soldiers can sense her presence She leans close, touches their hand, and looks in their eyes They know—it’s the nurse— She cares.   Many years go by A young child, bitten by a dog, goes to the hospital She’s crying and scared A woman approaches, dressed in white from head to toe and a cap just so Read more…

  • From our readers…’Twas the night before…

    online course night before

    ‘Twas the middle of the semester, halfway through the course I was writing a paper and citing a source. The washer was loaded and the dryer was on, In hopes that the laundry soon would be gone.
    The kids were upstairs all comfy in bed With no worry that mom was working ahead. My spouse was relaxing, watching ESPN For it wasn’t that late, just a quarter to ten.
    Read more…

  • On breaking a bone for the first time…at age 59

    humerus humorous humor slip bone breakLook, I’m a nurse, and I’ve probably seen a thousand broken bones in the last 35 years. Well, not actually seen them, but seen them wired, immobilized, splinted, and held together by bolted hardware contraptions that look like they could receive foreign frequencies, provoke Frankenstein’s passion, or launch a missile assault on a small nation. I’ve also seen images of broken bones on X-rays and CT scans. But never had I seen a broken bone while looking at an image of myself, until recently. Here’s what happened. Read more…

  • From our readers…The Companion

    companion dog art sketch parkinsons MET

    Parkinson’s had taken away almost everything she loved. She, the artist, had spent her younger days in the upper rooms of McGuffey painting watercolors of Piedmont’s rolling hills and fields of wildflowers; she can hardly sketch now, let alone hold a pencil Read more…

  • Harold & Bill: An enduring portrait of another era

    In 1971, I was attending nursing school and working as an emergency department (ED) orderly. One day, two elderly men came to the ED. One was brought from a taxi in a wheelchair. The other man, who was there simply for company, followed slowly on foot. They waited silently. Neither spoke more than 10 words during the 2-hour wait and visit. They were men Read more…

  • Reiki: Ancent healing art for today’s new healthcare vision

    Perhaps you’ve heard of a complementary therapy called Reiki, or maybe you’ve experienced it yourself. Reiki is one of the fastest-growing energy healing practices, used by millions of people to improve their health and quality of life. Although not formally recognized as a treatment or regulated as a practice, it’s becoming increasingly available in healthcare settings. Patients and their families may ask you what Reiki is. Read more…

  • Shaving as a metaphor for nursing

    Over the course of history, people have used metaphors to explain, contrive, reflect, and refute human phenomena. Health care (and all its challenges) has stimulated prolific metaphors to find meaning in its success, but more so in its failures. Military metaphors abound. Health providers are referred to as an “army” who “fight” in the “battleground” against the “enemy,” whether it’s a new strain of resistant organism Read more…

  • American Nurse, American Talent

    american steve price nurse hospice CD musicA Registered Nurse since 1982, Steve Price began his healthcare career in the U.S. Navy in 1971 as a hospital corpsman. He spent 15 years in the dialysis field and worked for 8 years in a cardiac catheterization lab and for 3 years in clinical research. In the last 6 years, Steve has found his passion in hospice and palliative care, which inspired him to write the songs on his debut CD, “Awake”. Read more…

  • From our readers…The Dance

    dance nurse progress grad confidenceLinda Harrington, RNC, works in Labor and Delivery at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, Mission Hills, CA. Below she comments on her experience with writing this poem: When the CNO asked me if I could "come up with something" to submit to the Magnet Art Gallery my first thought was, "Are you kidding me? No way, I am buried in projects, not a chance." Then my ears heard me respond, "Absolutely, happy to do it." Read more…

  • Baby boom: More photos from the NICU

    photography nicu baby twin triplet cherylEditor’s note: Our May 2008 “American Nurse, American Talent” department featured newborn photographs taken by Cheryl Briggs. They were so popular that we decided to publish another group of her photos.  (See photos in the downloadable pdf available at the bottom of this page.) The babies shown in these photos were preemies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where I work. As you can see, two of the photos show twins and the other shows triplets. Read more…

  • Writing for good health

    journaling your health nursesIf you asked nurses how they reduce job stress, you probably wouldn’t expect them to reply, “By writing.” In fact, a recent research study of nurses’ preferences for stress-relieving activities didn’t include writing as an option. Few people would choose writing to relax. At the beginning of a writing workshop with nurses, I often ask, “Who hates writing?” My hand is the first to go up, followed by that of nearly everyone in the room—and for good reason. Writing reports, patient assessment findings, and other types of clinical documentation can be the most tedious aspect of healthcare work. Read more…

  • Look for inspiration in your fellow nurses

    In a perfect world, we nurses would be inspired daily by our patient experiences. They would come in such abundance that overtime, computer crashes, and 10-minute meal breaks would be minor nuisances brushed off like a piece of lint on our scrubs. The reality is this: Some days are hard. Some are plain repetitive. (I can say that because I’ve worked on an endoscopy unit. I remember a Monday we did 14 colonoscopies, nothing else.) Read more…

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