Who Uses Nursing Theory?
Many nursing professionals use nursing theories at some point in their practice. These theories are taught to nurses during their formal education and may be applied during their careers.
Nursing theories are also heavily used by nurse researchers and nurse educators. Many university nursing programs, for example, will have courses dedicated to nursing theory or will incorporate nursing theories into the curriculum.
A theoretical practice class in a master’s of science in the nursing program might focus on how nursing healthcare has evolved due to historical, social, and political factors. Nursing theories relevant to family-centered nursing care may be covered in a class on family development and functioning.
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Nursing theories may be tested and evaluated in research so that researchers can draw conclusions about their efficacy and make recommendations on improving their success in practice. Nursing researchers may also use nursing theories as a foundation for new nursing trends, comparing previous results and current developments in nursing healthcare.
Three Nursing Theory Levels
Nursing theory is divided into three levels, which begin with abstract ideas and become more specific with each level. The three main theories are grand nursing theories, middle-range nursing theories, and practice-level nursing theories. Nursing theories at various levels may influence others. Each type is described in detail below.
Outstanding Nursing Theories
The broadest category is grand nursing theories. They are the most abstract and complex concepts and propositions that provide a general framework for nursing care. A grand nursing theory can be applied to various nursing care settings and situations.
Ida Jean Orlando-Deliberative Pelletier’s Nursing Process Theory External link: open in new is an example of a grand nursing theory. This theory investigates the definition of the nursing function and the interaction between the nurse and the patient. It explains how to improve patient outcomes by utilizing the nursing process.
Nurses, nurse educators, and researchers can apply a broad theory in various patient settings and combine it with other, more specific nursing theories to determine the best outcomes.
Theories of Middle-Range Nursing
Middle-range nursing theories are more focused than grand nursing theories but broader than more focused practice-level nursing theories. Middle-range nursing theories may be derived from related discipline theories, nursing research, or nursing practice.
Middle-range theories are more testable than grand nursing theories because they are less abstract. These theories attempt to explain, describe, or predict specific clinical nursing practice issues.
Imogene King’s Theory of Goal Attainment is an example of a middle-of-the-road nursing theory.
Open in new is an external link. This theory focuses on the factors that influence the achievement of specific life goals and describes how a nurse and a patient can communicate, set goals together, and take action to achieve those goals. The theory investigates how personal, interpersonal, and social systems influence goal attainment.
Nursing Theories at the Practice Level
Nursing theories at the practice level are situation-specific. They are the most focused and limited in the scope of the three levels of nursing theories. They may be based on concepts from grand and middle-range nursing theories, but they provide specific frameworks for specific nursing interventions.
Nurses and nurse researchers may apply a practice-level nursing theory when it comes to a specific patient population at a specific time. Because these theories are more specific and one-of-a-kind, they may draw on multiple theories to create the best-recommended practice for that specific patient group.
To provide optimal maternal patient care, a nurse working with a mother may draw on elements of middle-range nursing theories such as Ramona Mercer’s Maternal Role Attainment Theory External link: open in new and Dr. Joyce Fitzpatrick’s Life Perspective Rhythm Model External link: open in new.
Nursing Theory’s Four Concepts
According to the College of New Jersey, most nursing theories are based on four main concepts or metaparadigms External link: open in new. A nursing metaparadigm is a set of propositions or concepts that serve as a framework for developing conceptual models. Nursing theories typically take into account each nursing metaparadigm to apply how the principles in each theory relate to them.
According to the Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine External link: open in new, the four main meta paradigms in nursing are person, environment, health, and nursing. These four frameworks inform grand nursing theories, middle-range nursing theories, and practice-level nursing theories.
The person is central to the four key concepts of nursing theory because it refers to the patient being cared for. The individual may also be referred to as a “client,” and they may represent a group of individuals, families, or communities.
Because each person is unique and has different experiences, nurses must consider individual characteristics when making healthcare recommendations. It is also advantageous for nurses to use a human-centered approach to care, including emotional components such as empathy and compassionate communication.
Humans are constantly changing in response to external factors such as their environment. This framework considers the human patient’s biological, intellectual, psychological, and sociocultural aspects.
The setting in which nursing healthcare is provided is referred to as a nursing environment. Factors such as nursing unit morale affect the patient, their ability to heal, and the nursing team. Noise levels, lighting, scent, the amount of room space, and access to nature can all impact the nursing environment.
The environment in nursing extends beyond the healthcare setting. It is relevant to the patient’s daily life and social experiences. Personal, social, national, and global aspects and societal beliefs and customs are all part of the environment metaparadigm in nursing.
In nursing, health refers to improving a patient’s immediate healthcare situation and assisting them in maintaining their overall health and well-being. Certain factors in a nursing environment, such as cleanliness, preparedness, and a sense of caring, can improve a patient’s health. Food and clean water, for example, can impact a person’s health.
Health affects people throughout their lives. This metaparadigm examines a client’s life, including physical, social, moral, and aesthetic aspects. Health is situational, referring to a person’s current state in their surroundings.
For example, how health is defined in theory about senior care will differ from how health is defined in theory about newborn babies.
Finally, nursing is referred to as both a practice profession and an academic discipline in the nursing practice metaparadigm. Nursing, at its core, is a practice that promotes health and advocates for patients. It is a professional calling requiring training and education to provide the best direct patient care. Nurses use nursing theory to make decisions and think critically to determine the best treatment.
Nursing is based on scientific theory but also considers the human element to provide the best evidence-based care in various settings. Nurses use logical analysis, research, and nursing theories to provide care that considers human choice and responsibility.
A nurse, for example, may recommend one method of smoking cessation over another based on the patient’s overall health and decision-making patterns.
Nursing Theory’s Importance
Nursing theory is founded on hundreds of years of nursing practice and research. Nursing theories have been tested and evaluated over time, providing more insights to modern-day nurses, nurse educators, and researchers to inform their practices. Nursing theories help to contextualize nursing practice and provide examples of how various types of care can affect patients from various populations.
Nursing theories can also be used to improve patient outcomes. According to the findings, a review of 35 nursing theory studies conducted by the Nordic College of Caring Science Theory-guided interventions improved all of the studied outcomes in 26 studies and at least one outcome in the remaining nine studies. No studies found that nursing theory-guided interventions were ineffective. According to the study review, nurses should continue to use nursing theories to guide their practice.
Important Theories and Theorists
Florence Nightingale was a nurse. Nightingale, a British nurse who served in the Crimean War, is regarded as the father of nursing. In 1860, she founded the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. On the environment, the Florence Nightingale nursing theory, Environmental factors such as fresh air, pure water, efficient drainage, cleanliness, and direct sunlight are thought to impact health. Her theory proposed that lacking any of these factors could harm patient health outcomes.
Lewin’s Nursing Change Theory: Kurt Lewin was a social psychologist whose theories influenced the nursing profession. Lewin’s Nursing Change Theory External link: open in new is a three-stage change model that requires prior learning to be rejected and replaced to achieve meaningful change. It uses the terms “unfreezing,” “change,” and “refreezing” to describe the stages in this theory. Unfreezing allows people to break free from old patterns. Adopting a new process of behaviors, feelings, or thoughts is what change is. The process of refreezing is establishing the new process as a habit. Using this theory, nurses can assist patients in breaking bad habits and adopting new processes that promote better health.
Henderson, Virginia Avenel: The Nursing Need Theory External link: open in new was developed by this nurse theorist, researcher, educator, and author. This Virginia Henderson nursing theory emphasizes assisting patients in becoming more self-sufficient so that their progress is maintained when discharged from a hospital or healthcare setting. The theory focuses on how nurses can assist patients in meeting their basic human needs so that their treatment can proceed as smoothly as possible. Normal breathing, adequate eating and drinking, sleep and rest, the ability to communicate freely with others, and grooming are among the 14 human needs outlined in the Nursing Need Theory. The theory also portrays the patient as a collection of parts with biophysical needs rather than as a consumer or client.
Orem, Dorothea: The Self-Care Deficit Nursing Theory External link: open in new was developed by her. Dorothea Orem’s nursing theory incorporates the interconnected theories of self-care, self-care deficit, and nursing systems. The theory instructs nurses to assist their patients in self-care to maintain their health and well-being. According to the theory, when patients have some control over their self-care practices, their recovery improves. If a patient cannot perform certain self-care tasks, for example, due to mobility issues, a nurse can look for ways to assist while promoting autonomy.
Jean Watson was a dean emerita at the University of Colorado and the founder of the Watson Caring Science Institute External link: open in new. She held the title of “Distinguished Professor of Nursing,” the highest honor bestowed on its faculty for scholarly work. She developed the Jean Watson Nursing Theory of Caring External link: open in new. This theory is concerned with the role of compassion and love in nurse-patient interactions. The theory draws upon clinical, educational, and social psychology to explain the benefits of loving kindness in nursing care. The Theory of Caring sets the foundation for nurses to integrate compassion, altruism, spirituality, trust, listening skills, and human dignity in their nursing practice.
In Nursing School, Investigate Nursing Theories
Dozens of nursing theories have been researched, implemented, and evolved to assist nurses in providing better patient care. If you study nursing, you may learn about the theories described here. Nursing theories can be used to inform your nursing care in healthcare settings
Theories Guiding Nursing Practice
A nursing theory provides a framework for evidence based nursing practice and the pursuit of new knowledge.
Identify the major concepts of selected nursing theories
Scenario:You are working as a Registered Nurse at a local hospital that has recently changed ownership. The new owners of the hospital are committed to a culture that embraces evidence-based practice (EBP) and utilizes EBP as a guide for their policies and procedures. The focus on evidence-based practice can be seen as part of the hospital’s mission statement and local advertising campaign which states, “Evidence-based practice: The key to advancing quality and safety in healthcare.” While the hospital mission includes the statement: “…to be the healthcare center of choice, through superior clinical outcomes, evidence-based practice-driven protocols, and the advancement of practice utilizing formal and continuing education.”The hospital leadership team has shared that they are beginning the process of applying for Magnet status as a healthcare facility. They have asked for volunteers to serve on a sub-committee to select a nursing theorist as a framework that will be used to guide nursing practice. You have been asked to research the various nursing theorists, and select two to present to the leadership team.
From the list provided, select two nursing theorists. Prepare a written proposal that compares and contrasts the two theories and makes a recommendation for which theory would be a better fit for the facility. Please include the following in your proposal:Identify the two selected theorists and briefly summarize each theory. Compare and contrast the two selected theories.Formulate a recommendation for the theorist that best aligns to the facility.