Concepts of the Discipline of Nursing

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Concepts Central to the Discipline of Nursing
In order to critically examine the concepts central to the discipline of nursing it is important to clarify my understanding of what constitutes a discipline. Nursing literature has led me to understand that a discipline can be, in simple terms, thought of as a field of study with a unique perspective which gives rise to the nature and scope of inquiry of that field and therefore leads to a specialized body of knowledge (Parker, M & Smith, M, 2010). In attempt to cement nursing’s place in the professional world and in an effort to distinguish it from other disciplines it seems imperative that nursing itself agree on the discipline’s most significant concepts. Through early course readings it has become clear that this task is not so easily achieved. Several nurse scholars have conducted research and devised seemingly limitless options to choose from. In developing a metaparadigm of nursing a loose framework is established and agreed upon providing structure in which more concrete and focused concepts are identified. Through this paper I will examine and discuss the work of two notable nurse researchers and their contributions to identifying the central concepts of nursing including the influence of these concepts on the present state of nursing. In addition, I will address the way these concepts apply to my nursing practice and identify concepts of personal importance. Influence of the Central Concepts

Despite the efforts of nurse scholars to clearly define the profession a certain amount of ambiguity remains and is accompanied by a slight difference in opinion. Fawcett (1984) identifies four concepts central to the discipline of nursing including person, environment, health and nursing (p.84). In combination these concepts create a metaparadigm of nursing, which serves to identify the most salient phenomena concerning the discipline. The work of Newman, Smith, Dexheimer-Pharris and Jones (2008) elaborates on Fawcett’s metaparadigm by identifying seven, relationship centered, fundamental concepts of nursing. These include health, consciousness, caring, mutual process, presence, patterning and meaning. Albeit slightly different in composition and specificity the central concepts identified by both groups share certain commonalities and both serve to shape the way nursing is thought about and defined. They lead us as nurses to consider the deeper meaning behind our actions and guide us in the development of discipline as a whole. The aforementioned differences notwithstanding, both Fawcett (1984) and Smith and Parker (2010) acknowledge that there does seem to be a general consensus among nursing scholars and it these agreed upon concepts that serve to not only to define the discipline, but to separate nursing from medicine and other health related studies. As nursing continues to move away from a biomedical model it is increasingly important to demonstrate the connection between the nursing metaparadigm and the specialized knowledge that provides nursing with credibility within the world of academia. In critically examining these concepts nurses are able to clarify their role in the health-wellness continuum and are better able to articulate this role to others, including but not limited to, other disciplines, the public and nurses themselves. Nursing has a unique approach to patient care, which revolves around key nursing concepts. By staying true to these ideals we will help preserve our place in the health care. These central concepts remind us that nursing is greater than the sum of its’ parts and it is our focus on wholeness and relationship that helps quantify the uniqueness and defines us a group.

In addition to helping define the discipline the core concepts, as identified by Fawcett (1984) and Newman, Smith, Dexheimer-Pharris and Jones (2008), have influenced the focus of nursing and the boundaries of inquiry. Smith and Parker (2010) illustrate this notion by...
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