Myra Levine Nursing Theory

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How a nurse is defined can be very influential to their performance on a daily basis. The exact definition of the work a nurse does can shed a new light into a profession that many find noble and humbling. Myra Levine has a unique outlook on the world of nursing care that many would find confusing. The application of her theory has been attempted by nurses in several differ types of work such as wound management described by Leach (1999). This paper will show the nursing theorist along with her work of the conservation model to depict healthcare.

Myra Levine completed her conservation model in 1973 in an attempt to teach associate degree students a new approach for daily nursing activities. The 1970’s was an era in which the nursing profession was fighting many battles on the socio-economic front. The dominant race and gender of nursing was white females, which meant the salaries were far under in male profession. The American Nurses Association, ANA, was fighting for equal pay for the services nurses were providing as compared to other professions. Nurses were also expanding roles such as advanced practice nurses, including certified registered nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialist. These advanced roles provided the profession with more autonomy and expanded responsibilities (American Nurses Association, 1996). Another fight in the nursing world at this time was related to the shortage of registered nurses. The healthcare systems of the time were implementing “team nursing,” which the registered nurse was overseeing licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants in the team. This team cared for more patients than one registered nurse could take care of by their self.

Myra Levine attempted to bring the registered nurse back to the bedside of patients. In her theory she was very clear that the patient needed nursing care because they were no longer able to adapt on their own. Levine saw health and well-being as the goal of nursing. These goals could only be obtained with the registered nurse performing their tasks at the bedside of the patient (Parker, 1990). The theorist developed the view that the nurse was there to protect the patient from external challenges while teaching the patient the proper methods for facing these challenges in their outside world.

The conservation model consists of three major concepts; conservation; adaptation; and wholeness. Simply stated, conservation is the keeping together of the life systems. Nurses at this point of time understood the fact that each individual was a sum of life systems, including examples such as the gastrointestinal, circulatory, and respiratory systems. The individual patient was charged with keeping the internal life systems in an energy balance with the external challenges that they must face on a daily basis. Failure to adapt to external threats placed the energy of the internal systems at a disadvantage compared to the external energy fields of the environment, the results is the patient seeking nursing care to help adapt to the challenges (Marriner-Tomey & Alligood, 1998).

The second major concept of the conservation model is adaptation, the ongoing process of change whereby individuals retain their integrity within the realities of their environment. Adaptation is firmly grounded in three concepts of its own; history; specificity; and redundancy (Parker, 1990). Patients learn quickly in life to adapt to external challenges. These early challenges provide a framework for the patient’s adaptation process which they continue to use when facing new challenges. If an individual has always used the fight or flight process of adaptation to face challenges in the past they will continue to use this adaptation process to face future challenges until it fails. Each patient has their own unique response to facing new challenges, this is termed specificity. This unique response is in part due to the patient’s genetics, social...
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