Purpose: Over the past 35 years I have watched daily what I believe to be ademonstration of love of humanity in its’ highest form. Watson, (1990) and Leininger, (1991), both describe caring as the essence of nursing. Nursing is directly related to caring for people, and it provides a perfect opportunity to practice the art of loving. What is it that drives nurses? I believe it is a love of humanity. Compassion, duty to act, caring, tenderness, and love, are all qualities associated with loving care that nurses provide. How do nurses describe what they offer their patients? If we believe that love is an essential ingredient in human existence, then demonstration of love in nursing practice is of critical importance. The relationship between the nurse and patient has many components, but the main one appears to be Agape, wanting what is best for the patient, for the patient’s sake, not for the nurses’ sake. The agape ethic transforms both the nurse and the patient being cared for. As the nurse finds out more about the patient he/she finds more about him/herself. Loving care is firmly rooted in relationship between the patient and the nurse. Nurses serve humanity, and the way they serve seems to me to be more than just caring.
Methods: This qualitative study used a hermeneutic phenomenological research design to attempt to understand and interpret the essence of how love is manifested in the day to day practice of nursing. The main data source was in depth conversations with the researcher and the participant. Using Moustakas’ (1994) hermeneutic phenomenological model, Registered Nurses were interviewed until saturation was reached. The volunteer participants were obtained from two different critical care units, in a 500 bed hospital located in a southern city. All participants had been in practice a minimum of 2 years The data is what both the study participants reported, and subsequently what the researcher reflected upon. The interpretive paradigm allows the researcher to look at the world through the perceptions and experiences of the study participants. In looking for the answers, the researcher who uses the interpretive paradigm uses the participants’ experiences to build and translate her understanding from the collected data. The reflections on the experience helped all to understand the deeper meaning of the participants’ experience. The researcher went back to the interviewee and asked more specific questions, to go deeper into the meaning of the experiences. The goal of this research study was to understand a human phenomenon, love in nursing, and the meaning this phenomenon had on experienced nurses in practice.
Results: After intense reflection the researcher interpreted the participants responses. Six themes appeared in the responses to the research question “How do you experience love in your day to day practice?” Spirituality, Unity of Being, Knowing, Touch as Communication, and Diversity were the main themes. Love was evident in all responses. Every nurse expressed gratitude to have chosen the profession of nursing.
This study reinforces the connection between love and nursing practice. The results of this study add to nursings body of knowledge. Nurses experienced their profession as more than a job. Every nurse gave numerous examples of experiencing love in their day to day practice. This research study provides new information and insight about the existence of love of humanity in nursing practice. Not only does this study reinforce Caring Science, it surpasses it and takes it to a deeper level. It becomes more than a theory. It is a dynamic human motion, that touches soul and spirit of both the patient and the nurse. It needs to be included in all nursing curriculum.