Nursing Practice: The Importance of Creativity
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Session presented on Friday, July 24, 2015: Purpose: Creativity portrays a unique approach that combines skills, thoughts, experiences, and practices to improve existing or routine solutions. Our creativity enables us to cope with difficult and complex situations by generating new ideas and applying non-traditional techniques in ways that were never used previously. Studies have shown that doing artistic work may encourage students to 'think outside the box,' that is, to be creative. Accordingly, nurse educators have been asking students to create music, poems, drawings and sculptures as a way of stimulating creativity. Does such an approach work? Can we as nurses use creativity in our profession? Nurses often encounter unexpected situations that require taking care of patients with diverse backgrounds, personalities, needs, family situations and health conditions; hence nurses must go beyond routine nursing practice. It is clear nurses need creative thinking to make beneficial decisions and provide competent nursing care. In response, we have developed a course to meet that challenge to: (1) help registered nurses develop their creative competence; and (2) teach them how to apply it to their nursing practice. Methods: A course was developed for registered nurses (n=120) enrolled in a nurse completion program (to obtain BA in nursing). The semester-long online course included: online lectures that provided a theoretical background on creativity, including cognitive and emotional characteristics that either hinder or promote creativity. In addition to the online lectures, movies, photos, humor and games were used to demonstrate different skills. Among the learning assignment were: (1) the identification of a routine nursing practice that could be improved; (2) the recognition of patteRNof routine thinking as applied to that practice; and (3) the incorporation of a new and creative way to improve the performance of that same routine nursing practice. Other assignments included reflecting on their role in a humoristic way; and to identify cognitive and emotional characteristics, such as flexibility, within themselves that blocked creative thought and attitudes. At the end of the course, student groups had the assignment to develop a new and creative technique or product for nursing practice that could be used in their unit/department Results: There were many outstanding and innovative examples of creativity incorporated by registered nurses who were enrolled in this course. One group of RNtudents considered the mundane practice of providing respiratory treatments to children. It was tedious and routine and the children were afraid of it. Through their new approach, children sat in the arms of a huge teddy bear (that was safe for children with allergies and asthma) while they received the treatment. Another group of RNtudents working in obstetrics created a puzzle for new mothers. The puzzle contained pictures and information to educate new mothers on their peritoneal care and ways to provide care to their newboRN A third group of RNtudents sought to alleviate tension among their peers. They created a book with caricatures and jokes about the nursing routine and practices on that unit. Conclusion: RNurses not only reported enjoying and learning from the course, but described their colleagues' and patients' joy from their creative and inspiring contributions. It helped the human spirit and did not demand high costs or expensive technology or resources. Nurses need to embrace their creativity and apply it to their practice. It strengthens nursing practices and approaches. It is authentic and improves our disposition by enabling us to share ourselves and personalities. In a global society, creativity is a resource that we all can use in nursing practice.