Nursing Theory: Foundation for Nursing as a Profession

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Nursing Theory: Foundation for Nursing as a Profession
Wilma J. Vintson
Chamberlain College of Nursing
NR 501: Theoretical Basis for Advanced Nursing
Fall 2011

Nursing Theory: Foundation for Nursing as a Profession
This paper will discuss nursing theory and review how it relates to nursing as a profession. It will also focus on aspects of Virginia Henderson’s theory on the complementary-supplementary model of nursing. Nursing leadership, as it relates to Henderson’s theory, will also be discussed. Nursing, being both a science and an art, is a knowledge-based profession that focuses on the wholeness of human beings. This is established though nursing theory that guides research, and practice that can generate new ideas. Theory will clearly differentiate nursing from other professions. In order for a theory to exist it must contain concepts. These concepts are words or phrases that summarize ideas, observations, experiences, and must be related to each other. Theoretical statements describe a concept or the relationship between two or more concepts (Creasia, and Parker, 2007 page 110). Nursing theory has four levels of theoretical views; meta-theories, grand theories, middle-range theories, and practice theories. Meta-theories have the most abstract concepts. Grand theories have relatively abstract concepts, yet, they do establish a discipline’s identity and boundaries (Creasia, & Parker, 2007). Middle-range theories encompass a limited number of concepts that are relatively concrete and are easier to test (McCurry, Revell, & Roy, 2010). Practice theories consist of only one or two concepts that are limited to a particular event (Nicely, DeLario, 2011). As we look to the future of nursing, a major phase is preparing nurses to be effective leaders. One of the major competencies they will have to possess is having expert decision-making skills so they can be prepared for the unpredictable. It will take a well rounded, through understanding of nursing theory and research to have effective decision-making skills (Huston, 2008). In Virginia Henderson’s grand theory of complementary-supplementary she establishes her definition of nursing. Henderson (1961) defined nursing as:

The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to a peaceful death) that the person would perform unaided given the necessary strength, will or knowledge, and to do this in such a way as to help the individual gain independence as rapidly as possible (p.21). Importance of Theory in the Nursing Profession

The importance of nursing theory to nursing as a profession is of immeasurable magnitude. McCurry, Revell, & Roy (2010) clearly note that the nursing profession has an obligation to contribute to the well being of society by utilizing evidence-based practice. They continue to note that nursing knowledge is built on theories that answer the problem questions of science. Once a theory is validated by research it is articulated into nursing practice. These actions; theory, research, and evidence-based care will shape nursing’s values and goals to improve the quality of care and health of individuals, families, and society. This makes theory the foundation of nursing as a caring profession.

Dossey in 2008, through her grand theory of integral nursing, concludes that at this point and time in nursing there is a demand for a new language. A language that takes the best theoretical evidence known in science and the art of nursing, to have positive impacts on holistic and human caring theories and modalities. It is through these theoretical approaches and world views that nursing will be better prepared to share the depth of their knowledge, expertise, and critical-thinking skills for complementary assistance to others in creating health and healing.

As noted by Wagner and Bear (2009), conceptual definitions...
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