Zen & the Art of Nursing


This book describes basic Zen. It provides readers with meditations that link Zen philosophy to nursing practices.

Many times nurses are listeners whose ears are fine-tuned to pick up on patients’ innermost thoughts. A nurse’s quiet presence creates a shared, safe space where humans can utter their most terrifying thoughts and most shamed actions without worry of being judged. From nurses, clients gain an acceptance that brings peacefulness that often cannot be explained with words, but is realized by the nurse and patient.

—Susan L. Schoenbeck

As I sat down to review Zen and the Art of Nursing, I was unsure what I would find. While I know nursing well through my 46 years as a nurse, I know only a little about Zen. But the title intrigued me – and I was curious. What I found was a fascinating book but not just for reading – it provoked slowing down, reflecting, recalling old experiences and examining new patterns. Through the well-crafted, simple statements, I found myself learning about Zen and gaining an even deeper appreciation for nursing. I read certain passages and then stopped and appreciated the similarities. I read other passages and gained insights into my own behavior. The readings reminded me of the extraordinarily special relationships we nurses can have with our patients and their families, and the differences that we can make. But the readings also reminded me that we have to come fully open and prepared as we engage in these relationships. The investment is so worthwhile to our patients, their families and ourselves.

—Joanne Disch, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor ad Honorem,
Univesity of Minnesota School of Nursing