Blending the Liberal Arts and Nursing: Creating a Portrait for the 21st Century

Noel M Kerr, Wendy Carter Kooken

Research output: Journal ArticleArticlepeer-review


The liberal arts and sciences serve as a core part of the educational discipline in nursing curriculum and are believed to undergird abilities for critical-thinking, creativity, and holistic care ( Hermann, 2004; McKie, 2012 ). Over time, science has taken on a more central role in nursing education, despite the acknowledged importance and contributions of liberal arts. The humanities are an essential part of liberal arts education and generally include disciplines such as history, literature, religion, philosophy, architecture, or fine arts (e.g., music, painting, sculpture, drama, or film) ( Hermann, 2004 ). Nursing students identify that liberal arts improve their skills to communicate, think globally, navigate diversity, make decisions, and improve their human selves ( McKie, 2012 ), therefore the purposeful inclusion of liberal arts and humanities into nursing pedagogy should be assured. Schools of nursing seated within liberal arts universities are in a position to take advantage of campus environments that seek to improve student knowledge, skills, abilities, and values ( Scott, 2014 ). When caring for patients with complex medical, psychosocial, spiritual, and economic concerns, the ability to differentiate between what is true among a myriad of competing issues, and to identify solutions to these problems, are critical skills ( Scott, 2014 ).

This manuscript describes one type of focused effort by school of nursing (SON) faculty to integrate the humanities on a small, liberal arts campus into the nursing curriculum. The desire to do this led to a large, interdisciplinary project intended to enhance campus, community, faculty, and student opportunities to understand and ponder the complexities involved in caring for patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Professional Nursing
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Nursing education
  • Nursing curriculum
  • Liberal Arts College


  • Education
  • Nursing

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