Open-Hearted Flesh: Burn Injuries and Interpretation


  • Leah Verburg University of Calgary
  • Dr. Graham McCaffrey
  • Dr. Vincent Gabriel



This paper aims to describe the interpretive nature of burn care nursing using an example from the first author’s practice. It asserts how burn injuries are uniquely situated from a hermeneutic perspective as an embodied change that alters the way a burn injured person lives in the world. This paper was written for an assignment in a hermeneutic methodology class, focused on the role of the burns nurse, and further expanded in relation to the hermeneutic significance of burn injuries. It demonstrates the fit of hermeneutics as a way of understanding nursing practice and burn injuries, and serves as a support to the use of hermeneutics in the authors' Master of Nursing thesis project exploring the experiences of burn survivors.

            Keywords: nursing, burns, hermeneutics, embodiment

Author Biographies

Leah Verburg, University of Calgary

Leah Verburg graduated from the Faculty of Nursing undergraduate program at the University of Calgary in 2015. She is a practicing registered nurse with seven years of experience in surgical fields, including burns and plastics, surgical oncology, and the operating room. She is currently pursuing a Master of Nursing at the University of Calgary using hermeneutic methodology for research focused on the experiences of Indigenous burn survivors.

Dr. Graham McCaffrey

Graham McCaffrey is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary. His research interests include application of hermeneutic principles to topics in healthcare and the role of humanities in nursing. He is the author of “Nursing and Humanities” (Routledge, 2020) and a co-author of “Conducting Hermeneutic Research” (Peter Lang, 2015).

Dr. Vincent Gabriel

Vincent Gabriel, MD is the Medical Director of the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Centre, Assistant Professor of the Departments of Clinical Neurosciences, Pediatrics and Surgery at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary. His research work includes outcome measurement of fibrotic wound healing, patient impact of burn injury, and medical device design. He has authored and co-authored 25 peer reviewed original manuscripts and 6 textbook chapters.