The Art of Nurse Aesthetics

As we practice as Nurse Coaches and Nurses, we bring our whole selves into each interaction. We do some of these practices with deliberate intention, while others have just become habits. Perhaps you, listen to a song that connects you to yourself. Maybe you read a passage in an inspiring book or light a candle. Perhaps you take three breaths in and out or repeat a mantra in your mind. Possibly a vase of fresh flowers on your desk inspires you to set an intention.

Have you ever asked yourself why you do these things? Or why you choose to connect to a ritual of healing to support you, your patients and your communities?

Modern day Nurse Theorist and co-founder of the International Nurse Coach Association and Integrative Nurse Coach® Academy Barbara Dossey co-authored the book Rituals of Healing. In the book she writes, “Rituals of Healing weaves three golden threads- rituals, beliefs and imagery- to deep the understanding of inner knowing and expand current concepts of healing” (Achterberg, Dossey & Kolkmeier, 1994).

Mary Oliver PoemTo me a Ritual of Healing is a purposeful way I can act and tend to my needs. Rituals are an approach I can gently connect to, so I can honor myself and the sacred work of a coaching session. They also help me connect to hidden emotions of nervousness (do you ever get nervous before going into a patient’s room, or before a coaching session?) or fear and lovingly acknowledge them, so I am more open to the possibilities before me.

Dossey and Keegan’s Holistic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice (2022) speaks to the value of aesthetics within your Nursing practice, for aesthetics are connected to the art of Nursing.

“Aesthetic practices are those that bring a sense of awe, wonder and harmony and contribute to healing by facilitating an expanded expression of self that is unique and meaningful.” (Dossey & Keegan, 2022, p.336). When you practice with the use of Nursing aesthetics you allow beauty, creativity, imagination, inspiration, innovation, brilliance, improvisation, and wisdom to flow into yourself, your coaching and practice settings, your clients and every way you show up in the world.

A few aesthetic practices that you may think of are…

  • Nature
  • Music
  • Tai Chi
  • Art
  • Doodling
  • Journaling
  • Singing Bowls
  • Photography
  • Coloring
  • Dancing
  • Candles
  • Poetry

A story related to poetry comes to mind. When I was in my first year of university, I took an English course with a very rigid teacher. At the time I did not know anything about aesthetic Nursing, or inner wisdom. We were asked to decipher what a poem was telling us, so I wrote a paper describing what the poem was telling me and received a big red ‘D’ at the top of my creativity.

I was shocked and felt humiliation that the teacher could not see and feel what I felt in my reflection of that poem. I set an appointment with the professor, to explain, and debate, however, my continued ideas were squashed and ridiculed. This experience made me shy away from poetry for years because I was too scared to revisit its gifts.

And one day, at a Nurse Coaching gathering, a fellow Nurse stood before our class and read aloud a poem she loved (I share it below). Passion and tenderness flowed from her lips and my heart opened wide with gratitude. I felt exposed yet loved by her as she shared it. There was no judgment, just kindness, and acceptance.

What this Nurse Coach did for me by sharing her Nursing art through the poetry aesthetic allowed me to begin healing from my internal poetry tragedy story. She opened the possibility of me exploring poetry again, first reading it on my own, then listening to poetry books, and then buying a few poetry books to use as journal prompts.

Today, I have the confidence to use poetry in group coaching, 1:1 session, yoga classes and for personal reflective writings to support inner knowing and the healing needs of every human.

I honestly don’t remember the poem from my strict English teacher, but I do remember the poem, by Mary Oliver called Wild Geese from a compilation of her poetry from the same title.

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

Nursing Poetry

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

What are your favorite ways of connecting to yourself before a coaching session, or at any point in your day? How are you using Nursing aesthetics in your work?  Let’s discuss in comments below.


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After two decades as an Intensive Care Nurse caring for the sickest of patients, Nicole left the one-size fits all healthcare industry, and created Blue Monarch Health, where she is; Active Aging Specialist, Health Protection Expert and Head Motivator! Instead of waiting for you to get sick, she meets you where you live, work and play, to enhance your health and vitality.
Nicole listens deeply, and takes you by the hand to co-create a health and vitality plan with you, so you can really do it in your life. She is an authentic, heart-centered stick of dynamite, who focuses your energies, builds up your strengths, and leverages your unique gifts!
Nicole Vienneau achieved a Master’s in Nursing Science from the University of Arizona, a board certification in Integrative Nurse Coaching from the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation, and is Senior Faculty with the Integrative Nurse Coach® Academy. She is a Functional Aging Specialist, personal trainer, yoga teacher, and group fitness instructor and a retired Reebok-sponsored Fitness Athlete.  When she’s not coaching clients or writing blogs, or hosting the Integrative Nurse Coaches in ACTION! Podcast, you can find her teaching active older adult fitness classes, volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association, lounging in the sun with her cat babies, or on a hike with her awesome husband.
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