Nursing Theory???

  1. Message deleted. No response necessary.
    Last edit by k123456 on Mar 8, '04
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  2. 87 Comments

  3. by   Q.
    Amy,

    As someone who has been engrossed in nursing theory now due to being in grad school, I think I can answer you a bit.

    I think most nurses have a misconception about nursing theory, in that they believe it should guide their practice to the point where they subscribe to one or the other to be a nurse. It simply isn't the case.

    What nursing theory is is writings of nurses who observed patients and nurses and identifed patterns of behavior that are repeated over and over again. These patterns are then compiled into a theory, which, it's ultimate goal is to define what nursing is and who we are. Nursing theory also acts to inform us of things that are patterns in patients, such as reactions to stress or new dx, etc. They seem common-sense now, but before they were documented, we never really knew. Theories are written and ultimately, should be tested. Much change has come about as a result of theories.

    Theories have identifed responses to heart dz in male patients, but when nurses studied the meaning of it to female patients, they found entirely different responses, thus, it may guide our care or understanding of the female cardiac patient.

    There are numerous theories out there, ranging from practice-based theories to grand theories which attempt to define things or create concepts. Most theories describe assumptions about what person, environment, health, and nursing, and how all those relate and interrelate.

    Nursing theory I believe is essential to entry level professional practice as a Bachelor's prepared nurse, and is absolutely essential in graduate nursing studies. Nursing theory is the basis by which our profession is defined, both to us, other disciplines, and the public.
  4. by   sjoe
    If it will simplify things, instead of "theory," think "philosophy."

    And like life's multiple philosophies, there are many, mostly have very limited application to the real world (though they may sound good), and each person winds up doing and thinking what makes the most sense to him/her in the end anyway.

    There is nothing magical or mystical or mysterious about all this--just different ways of looking at the world (the world of nursing in the case of nursing theory). You are welcome to come up with your own, if you have that much extra time on your hands. Most of us would rather do other things.
  5. by   Peeps Mcarthur
    From Amy's post

    I was reading someone's comment about nursing theory in a different post and it seemed to talk in circles. Like to help patients you must understand yourself to understand how they feel and how their health is blah blah blah.
    Where to begin.........

    You've made an observation early enough to do something about your career track. Let me tell you, there is no shortage of that psychological double-speak in nursing school. You will be required to read, and actualy act like you care about thier psychosocial, spiritual well-being.(if we only had an emesis avatar).

    I can see the look on the nurse I'm assigned to when I ask whether they think Mr. so-and-so is in "integrity vs dispair" and how that affects his care.

    I am a fist year nursing student. I am taking Development through the life-span for the third, and last time. I have dropped the course twice because I was shocked that I would be required to learn such garbage. After inquiring about this sort of "touchy-feely" science thing being used in nursing, I was assured by experienced instructors that only nursing schools try to apply that sort of theory,
    praticing nurses wouldn't know what you're talking about

    I also want the autonomy and status of being an NP. I considered Physiscian's Assistant, but RN's are getting too much money for part-time work to justify not going through with it, and the PAs are not as autonomouse nor as well paid.
    Psyhc, sociology, and psychosocial development are practicaly worthless, but they show up in the curriculum constantly. The NP programs I've looked into require a 3.2 GPA just to apply, so you not only need to buy into it but you will need to get the grades to prove that.

    It is a complete mystery to me as to why these theories would be taught, though few practicing nurses remember, much less use them.

    These theories go all the way though until the NP program, then you can kiss this touchy-feely crap goodbye and start to learn how to take care of a patient's real needs. Until then I think we are only going to learn that one-on-one with the patient in clinicals.

    Now if that's not enough to give you a clear picture, ask someone about CARE PLANS. Even my clinical instructor thinks they're a load.

    :chuckle
    Last edit by Peeps Mcarthur on Nov 1, '02
  6. by   adrienurse
    Believe me, nursing theory is a confusing thing. I don't know, yes they are relevant in some context or another, but some of them are just soooo out there. I took an entire class on them, and still don't know WTF they were about. Draw your own conclusions, though.
  7. by   Q.
    I thought I'd post a quote from a text I am using for a paper that describes nursing theory and it's purpose.

    This is taken from Foundations of Nursing Theory by McQuiston & Webb, 1995, p. 563.


    A major value of nursing theory is its utility in helping nurses distinquish actions that form the core of professional nursing practice from actions that are responsibility of other health care providers. At the time Orlando's (Ida Jean) theory was evolving, much of nursing care practice involved assisting physicians so more effective medical care could be provided to patients. Nursing science was in the embryonic phase and practices were based on medically derived principles or on anecdotal data. Comparitively few nurses questioned this approach and many perceived their professional obligations to patients as secondary to the medical assistant responsibilities. Orlando recognized that nursing could not be a profession unless it had a distinct function or goal.


    I feel this is a good summary of what nursing theory tries to do. Not necessarily guide our day-to-day practice but to define our profession and establish ourselves as a credible body, not simply the hand-maidens of the medical profession.

    Hope this helps.
  8. by   MRed94
    It is all through what we are learning in our ADN classes, but is there more for a guide, not necessarily to be the most important part of the learning.

    I am finding it is barely there in the background, but still needs to be spewed back at the instructors for the duration.

  9. by   adrienurse
    According to Marriner-Tomey (1994):

    Theory helps provide knowledge to improve practice by describing, explaining, predicting, and controlling phenomena. Nurses' power is increased through theoretical knowledge because systematically developed methods are more likely to be successful. In addition, nurses will know why they are doing what they are doing if challenged. Theory provides professional autonomy by guiding the practice, education, and research functions of the profession. The study of thory helps develop analytical skills, challenge thinking, clarify values and assumptions, and determine purposes for nursing practice, education and research."

    Basically nursing is driven by the work of theorists that are to nursing what people like Freud are to psychology. There are the grand theorists like Orem, Rogers (one of the really far out ones) and Roy. These are the people who came up with concepts like the basis behind self-care deficit and the actions of the nurse (Orem). There are also less grand scale theorists that have shaped the bodies of knowledge of more specific areas of nursing like Benner (novice to expert theory), Peplau (psychodynamic theory) and Leininger (cultural care theory).
  10. by   Q.
    Originally posted by adrienurse
    According to Marriner-Tomey (1994):

    HEY! I am using that very book for my paper.
  11. by   adrienurse
    Required reading for 49.428 Theories in nursing practice (taken in 1998).
  12. by   k123456
    Message deleted. No response necessary.
    Last edit by k123456 on Mar 8, '04
  13. by   adrienurse
    This is the theoretical part of nursing. You will also learn about the practical aspects (the physical science of nursing). 4 Year baccalaureate programs tend to focus more on the Theory aspect. People who study for their masters base their work more on the theories. Ericson's theory is more of a developmental psychology theory than a nursing theory, but nursing borrows a lot from other disciplines. You will probably learn about the nursing theorists in the later part of your training.
  14. by   Q.
    Originally posted by k123456
    Hmmm...

    The only theory I've really read on is Erikson (I don't think it's a nursing theory though per say) and I found myself reading about every 6th word and basically feeling like it was just a big bunch of crap. Isn't nursing science about science also? Maybe that doesn't come until the NP level.

    Please keep your thoughts coming. This is really a crucial concern for me as I am applying to programs.

    Erikson and most others who are mentioned in Child Development type classes are theories from the psychological discipline and are not nursing theories. Many of nursing's theories are actually "borrowed"concepts from those other disciplines.

    Nursing science is about science yes, the nursing process in it's whole. It's a good basis for a new nursing student to begin patient care and organize thoughts.

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