Nursing theory in professional practice

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Nursing Theory in Professional Practice

Nursing Theory in Professional Practice
     Each individual collects, organizes, and arranges facts to build a knowledge base that defines his personal reality. A similar organization and structure of facts and events are present in large bodies of knowledge, through theories, philosophies, concepts, and processes. Nursing theory is explained and described as well as various nursing theories are discussed and their current nursing roles are clearly identified in this paper. Also professional values and characteristic are clearly described.
     A theory is a group of concepts that form a pattern of reality. A theory is a statement that explains or characterizes a process, an occurrence, or an event and is based on observed facts however lacks absolute or direct truth. Theories arrange a group of related statement or concepts so that they give meaning to a series of events. Theories can be tested, changed, or used to guide research or to provide a base for evaluation (Blais, 2002).
     Nursing theory attempts to describe or explain the phenomenon (process, occurrence, or event) called nursing. Nursing theory differentiates nursing form other disciplines and activities in that it serves the purpose of describing, explaining, predicting and controlling desired outcomes of nursing practices. Nursing theories identify and define interrelated concepts specific to nursing and clearly state the relation between these concepts. Nursing theories must be logical in nature; they should use orderly reasoning and describe relations that are developed using a logical sequence. Theories must also be consistent with the basic assumption used in their development. Nursing theories should be simple and general; simple terminology and broadly applicable concepts ensure their usefulness in a wide variety of nursing situations (Blais, 2002).
     Florence Nightingale, the nurse who established the theoretical base of nursing, developed and published a philosophy and a theory of health and nursing that has served as a solid foundation for the nursing profession. Her contribution to the nursing theory include identifying the nurses role in meeting the clients personal needs; recognizing the importance of the environmental influences on the care of sick people; and evaluating the standards and acceptance of nursing by developing sound principles of nursing education. Nightingale also influenced nursing knowledge and practice by demonstrating efficient and knowledgeable nursing care, defining nursing practice as separate and distinct from medical practice (Retrieved October 21, 2002 from,
     Betty Neuman’s theoretical model is a total person approach which can be used to provide an organized approach to a variety of nursing problem and for understanding humans and their environment. The model focuses on the client system’s reaction to stress and the factors of reconstitution or adaptation. The person is an open system interacting with the environment. Surrounding each person are internal and external factors that are stressors. Over a lifetime, the person becomes a normal line of defense that uses biologic, psychologic, sociocultural, and developmental skills to deal with stressors (Fawcett, 1999).
     Dorothea Orem’s theoretical self-care model of nursing is based on the belief that the individual has a need for self-care actions and that nursing can assist in meeting that need to maintain life, health, and well-being. The model is widely used in all areas in nursing. Self-care as defined by Orem consists of the activities that individuals carry out on their own behalf. These actions are deliberate, have pattern and sequence, and are developed from day to day living. Orem suggests that a person needs nursing when the person has a health-related self-care deficit. Orem has defined three nursing systems on the premise that the nursing system depends on the self-care needs and abilities of the client. In the first system (wholly compensatory), the nurse gives total care to meet all needs. In the second (partially compensatory), both the nurse and the client perform care measures. In the third case (supportive-educative), the client can carry out self-care activities but requires assistance and teaching in order to accomplish wellness (Blais, 2002).
     An example patient for the Orem’s theory would be a trauma patient with a head injury, bilateral hemo-pneumothorax with bilateral chest tubes, pelvic fracture, and a left tibia fibula open fracture. This patient goes to the operating room for an exploratory lap and is stabilize and sent to surgical intensive care unit (SICU). At this point the patient is wholly compensated in self-care, he unable to care for himself and would die without nursing care. As the patient progresses he is transferred out of the SICU and now transitions into a partially compensated mode of self care where he has started to participate in physical rehabilitation and self-care. Finally the patient is able to care for himself with only supportive-educative assistance and is almost ready to go home. Recovery continues on an outpatient basis until optimal wellness is achieved.
     Nursing has developed many useful theories that enhance the nursing profession. As nursing changes it guides research that develops new theories. We are able to add to the proven theories and develop new theories, all of which can be used in strengthening nursing as a profession.     


A Celebration of women writers. Retrieved September 17, 2002 from,
Blais, K.K., Hayes, J.S., Kozier, B., and Erb, G. (2002). Professional nursing practice: Concepts and perspectives (4thEd.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Fawcett, J (1999) Analysis and evaluation of conceptual models of nursing (2ndEd.). F.A.
Davis Company, Philadelphia.

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