University of Miami
Theoretical Influences on Nursing’s Professional Responsibilities and Social Policies
With great privilege comes great responsibility. The nursing profession enjoys a place of honor in contemporary Western society. In a recent Gallup poll, nurses ranked the highest out of 21 professions with regard to honesty and ethical standards, surpassing pharmacists, physicians, police officers, high school teachers and even members of the clergy (2011). The purpose of this paper is to explore how theoretical frameworks have established the foundation for, and continue to guide the ethical aspects of nursing practice.
Concepts are the building blocks of theory and in turn theories demonstrate the relationships between the respective concepts (Parker & Smith, 2010). The American Nurses Association (ANA) posited that within the nursing profession theory can be defined as a set of concepts, definitions or propositions which are utilized to explain, anticipate or attempt to control phenomena of interest or human reactions in a systematic manner (2010). Theories represent a fundamental part of nursing’s knowledge base and are one of the defining characteristics of the practice itself. It is the incorporation of theoretical and evidence-based knowledge with the experiences of human beings that facilitates the systematic and holistic delivery of nursing care (The ANA, 2010). The professional responsibilities and social contracts that nurses honor are derived from theoretical concepts and are dynamic in nature. One of the most significant aspects of nursing care is the social contract between the profession and the society it serves. This contract focuses on nursing’s commitment to the core values and ethical standards that support the general health of the population (The ANA, 2010). According to the ANA’s Nursing’s Social Policy...