Exploring Rituals in Nursing: Joining Art and Science


Zane Wolf PhD, RN, FAAN

Pub. Date: July 15, 2016
Page count: 224
ISBN 13:  9780826196620

Key Features:

  • Presents a history of nursing rituals and their significance past and present
  • Incorporates evidence-based research and an emphasis on caring theory
  • Demonstrates how understanding and incorporation of nursing rituals can greatly enhance nursing care today
  • Includes rituals for bathing patients, pre and postmortem care, prevention of medication errors, rituals of socialization, and nursing ceremonies
  • Features poems and photographs


Awarded first place in the 2013 AJN Book of the Year Awards in the History and Public Policy category

[This book] leaves experienced nurses with a renewed sense of purpose and urgency. For new nurses, the book serves as a reminder that although the work of nursing embodies many forms of technology to assist in the delivery of patient care, it remains vitally important not to forget the importance of the art of nursing, the laying of hands.” Score: 86, 3 Stars  Doody’s Medical Reviews

A very interesting read, this book reaffirms why and how nurses provide care and incorporate ethical values and respect for human dignity into professional practice. A useful supplemental resource for nursing curricula.— Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

During this tumultuous period in health care, it can be helpful for both students and practicing nurses to not only look forward to change but to look back at customs that have served nurses well over the years. This text examines a variety of nursing rituals in the context of caring science and evidence-based practice and demonstrates how understanding and incorporation of such rituals can have a transformative effect on contemporary nursing practice. It is written for undergraduate and graduate students, and serves to integrate the liberal arts into nursing education as per AACN’s New Essentials of Baccalaureate Education.

The text explores the history of nursing rituals and the symbols, meanings, and overall usefulness nursing rituals can convey to the profession today. These rituals–marking the sacred and profane of nursing–serve functions both practical and social and offer a window into the art of nursing that runs beneath the surface. Not only does the book examine rituals that take place in nurse-to-patient direct care situations, in nurse-to-nurse relationships, and those that mark the transitions into the professional nursing role, it also incorporates evidence-based research and an emphasis on caring theory. The book demonstrates how understanding and effective incorporation of these rituals in one’s learning and practice can enhance nursing care. Rituals addressed include those used for bathing patients, pre and postmortem care, ritualistic prevention of medication-related errors, rituals of socialization, and nursing ceremonies.