Open Systems Theory

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An Open Mind to an Open System

AN OPEN MIND TO AN OPEN SYSTEM
The Open System Theory was initially developed by Ludwig von Bertanlanffy (1956), a biologist, but it was immediately applicable across all disciplines. It defines the concept of a system, where "all systems are characterized by an assemblage or combination of parts whose relations make them interdependent". As one moves from mechanical to organic and social systems, the interactions between parts in the system become more complex and variable. (Bellinger, 2008) Open systems like organizations are "multi-cephalous: many heads are present to receive information, make decisions, direct action" (Bellinger, 2008). Individual and subgroups form and leave coalitions. Boundaries are amorphous, permeable, and ever changing. But the system must exchange resources with the environment to survive. Nurses today are enmeshed in many systems; health care system, a family system, body systems, information systems, banking systems, political systems, etc. Therefore, it is beneficial for nurses to gain some basic understanding of how systems work. Through understanding of the Open Systems theory, nurses can more effectively care for patients, families and communities, and can more effectively bring about desired results of patient care efforts. If one only focused on fixing the steering wheel of a car that is not running; without also checking the engine, lights, and transmission, the car would never function again. The open systems approach allows for a primary focus of a disease process while also concentrating on the many systems that can be affected as a result of the illness or disease. In the patient with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), the care of the patient offers challenges in management, and is greatly improved by an open systems approach to patient care. In order to analyze the origin, pathophysiology, and effects of the disease, an open system allowing many components to...
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