Literature relevant to the art of nursing is immensely diverse and fragmented. This state is problematic in that progress in understanding nursing art cannot be made until the subject of nursing art is clearly delineated. In light of the need for conceptual clarity regarding nursing art, a dialectical study was undertaken to identify the distinct conceptions of nursing art that are represented in the nursing literature. The examined discourse was that contained in the works of 41 nursing scholars published between 1860 and 1992. The analysis revealed five distinct conceptualizations that can be identified as the art of (1) grasping meaning in patient encounters, (2) establishing a meaningful connection with the patient, (3) skillfully performing nursing activities, (4) rationally determining an appropriate course of nursing action, and (5) morally conducting one's nursing practice.
(C) 1994 Aspen Publishers, Inc.