On episode 223 of RNFM Radio, the RNFM Radio trifecta dive into the idea of the nurse polymath and polymathism as put forward by Keith on a recent episode of The Nurse Keith Show, as well as a blog post.
Nurses need to know a lot of things; nursing professionals have knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, human behavior, human growth and development, the nursing process, research, biostatistics, and many more subjects than you can shake a syringe at. Nurses’ knowledge is legion; we are all potentially nurse polymaths.
Wikipedia defines a polymath as “a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems.” Merriam-Webster states that a polymath is “someone who knows a lot about many different things.”
My go-to example of a polymath is none other than Leonardo da Vinci. He was a painter, inventor, scientist, mathematician, engineer, writer, and even a paleontologist. Leonardo is more than a cool Ninja Turtle; he is a symbol of what is sometimes referred to as a “Renaissance Man”, which I would now call a “Renaissance Person”.
A nurse clinician polymath is a multifaceted health professional who approaches patient care and the nursing process with eyes wide open and curiosity on high alert. The nurse polymath reads voraciously, but not just about nursey stuff; he or she reads about culture, society, politics, art, economics, or anything else that deserves attention. Her breadth of knowledge can be applied to solving problems in sophisticated and creative ways.
In business, the nurse entrepreneur polymath may take a deep dive into social media, become an expert in WordPress, learn to use accounting software, study emotional intelligence, create an app, and write a series of books. The polymath business owner isn’t necessarily a master of everything nor a novice at most things; the polymath knows enough to be proficient or conversant with what’s necessary, with natural curiosity being a driving force behind continued learning and increased mastery.
Nurse polymaths understand the currents moving through culture and society, absorbing that which informs and strengthens their work in the world.
There’s actually a great article about the polymathism and genius of Florence Nightingale.
This is a great, far-ranging conversation with Kevin, Keith, and Elizabeth. Dig in and get your polymath on!
This episode of RNFM Radio is sponsored by the good folks at American Sentinel University. As a fully accredited online university, American Sentinel offers a variety of courses related to healthcare and nursing, including RN to BSN, and five MSN programs: Informatics, Case Management, Nursing Education, Nursing Management, and Infection Prevention and Control. They offer an RN to BSN/MSN, a program, as well as two tracks for those wishing to pursue a Doctorate of Nursing Practice. American Sentinel also offers a certificate in Prevention and Control that assists clinicians in acquiring the knowledge they need to develop best practices for infection prevention and control. Please visit RNFMEducation.com for more information.
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