In the world of nursing, it would seem obvious that the study of the body is incorporated into the practice. In a literal and physiological sense this is true, considering the academic focus on human anatomy in nursing school, but the full realm of body studies is much larger and should be explored more thoroughly.

Studying the body goes much further than the information that is gained in a cadaver laboratory or from an anatomy textbook. Many people may not see body studies as relevant material for nursing curriculums because of the heavy emphasis on anatomical and physiological body studies already present in these programs, and mistake this emphasis as the pinnacle of nursing academia. However, we as people also live inside these bodies that we study, and how we interact with our own bodies sets the framework for how we interact with the various facets of society. Our bodies are also a tool used to display our own identities, and that tool is used to build the intersection between our society and our identities. The study of bodies and this intersection is called bodylore, and to learn more in-depth about this, reference Amy K. Milligan’s “Bodylore and Dress,” at this link: https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/ oxfordhb/9780190840617.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780190840617-e-20  

This study of the body and its significant role in the intersection, expression and display of culture and identity needs to be studied alongside the anatomical physiology already present in nursing curriculums because of the practical applications. Nursing is an aspect of healthcare with one of the most amount of patient interaction, and therefore nurses encounter a wide array of bodies, identities and people. A successful nurse treats every single one of their patients with the utmost dignity and respect while prioritizing their healing. Without body studies, a nurse may not have the knowledge on how to treat individuals with such dignity and respect, because every person’s position and experience in society and culture is both affected by and because of their unique body.   

Through the implementation of body studies in the nursing curriculum, nurses would be better equipped to practice cultural competence. Georgetown University defines cultural competence “as the ability of providers and organizations to effectively deliver health care services that meet the social, cultural, and linguistic needs of patients.” (To read more, visit https://www.masmedicalstaffing.com/2018/02/13/cultural-competence-in-nursing-practice/) Since the body is the patients’ and persons’ vesicle into their own respective culture, it makes the upmost sense that nurses in training begin their studies of the body. 

Not only are body studies crucial in interpersonal care that constitutes the bulk of nursing, but it is imperative in understanding oneself and living out one’s potential. When we understand our bodies and how they act in society, we can develop a deeper sense of self and our identities. Through the acknowledgement of our identity we are further able discover and live up to our aptitudes. According to Clint Lange’s “Nursing and the importance of body language,” body language is something that directly impacts the quality of care that is provided to patients. (Read more at (https://journals.lww.com/nursing/FullText/2016/04000/Nursing_and_the_ importance_of_body_language.12.aspx) If not careful and willful with the way healthcare providers speak without words, patients and families may not be satisfied with their care, which can lead to much more serious consequences. This is so important because of the different ways body language is used across various cultures, because our very own bodies are the first depiction of our culture and background. This final and most pertinent reason is exactly why body studies needs to be incorporated into the curriculums of nursing school programs. 

Nursing is a field that is ever changing and growing, but the fact that people are the focus of a nurse’s care, will never change. By understanding bodies on a deeper and more significant level than just the physical, nurses will be able to do their job in the most effective and conclusive way possible. Nurses will be able to better understand the people they are caring for, as well as themselves, in order to heal and save the lives that live in those bodies. 


Madeline is a sophomore at Old Dominion University. She is very passionate about learning how she can incorporate her minor in Women’s Studies into her future career as a nurse. Madeline spends her free time working out, traveling or getting coffee with friends.