Psychiatric Observation: A Skill Worth Developing

By Margot Phaneuf, R.N., Ph. D.



Nurses carry out a number of prescribed, autonomous, customized or other interventions with patients as part of their everyday activities. However, at the core of these interventions lies a crucial step which precedes, follows and guides nurses in their activities. It is observation which determines the relevance, execution and follow-up of interventions.This step is so significant that it should be integrated into any nurse’s training. More than a century ago, Ducroly, an educator who continues to influence active pedagogy, wrote: “If we’re not prepared to observe clearly and precisely, how can we have correct or fair ideas and precise judgments about subjects and the relations among subjects, or about more complicated subjects – those belonging to the realm of individuals and societies and their relations? » (translated from:

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