Nursing theory

Nursing theory


The field of nursing incorporates both artistic and scientific components, and nursing philosophy acts as the bridge that unites these two facets of the profession. In issue is a notion that serves as the essential framework for the execution of nursing practice, education, and research, consequently promoting a deeper knowledge among nurses regarding the complex sphere of healthcare. This article’s goal is to offer a comprehensive investigation into nursing theory, including a discussion of the concept’s definition, historical context, multiple typologies, and practical consequences.

 A Definitive Exposition of Nursing Theory

Definition and Purpose

Definition of Nursing Theory and Its Purpose Nursing theory is a methodical and forward-thinking approach to understanding the intricacies of nursing practice. A set of concepts, definitions, and propositions that are interconnected with one another makes it easier to have a complete understanding of nursing phenomena. The primary goals of nursing theory are to direct and inform nursing practice, improve the standard of care provided to patients, and have an impact on the future of the nursing profession.

The Development of Nursing Thought

The development of nursing thought may be traced back to the early 20th century, namely to the contributions made by notable people such as Florence Nightingale. The pioneering work done by the individual laid the groundwork for the development of contemporary nursing concepts, with a specific emphasis on the significance of patient care, hygiene, and evidence-based practices.

Key Theorists and Their Contributions

In the next section, we will talk about the most important thinkers and the substantial contributions that they made to the discipline. Numerous nursing theorists have made significant contributions to the field throughout the course of its development over the course of history. There are a number of notable people who are not given enough credit, including the following:

  • Florence Nightingale, who is often regarded as the woman who laid the groundwork for modern nursing, placed a large amount of importance on the role that the environment plays in assisting patients with their recoveries.
  • The “Nursing Need Theory,” which was developed by Virginia Henderson and has since been rather prominent, lays a great amount of stress on the crucial role that nurses play in assisting patients in achieving the fulfillment of their fundamental needs.
  • The “Goal Attainment Theory” developed by Imogene King revolves around the relationship between the nurse and the patient and how they work together to achieve their goals.

An Organization of the Different Nursing Theories

 General Introduction to the Grand Nursing Theories

Grand nursing theories seek to provide all-encompassing explanations and descriptions of a large variety of facets that are associated with the profession of nursing, and they contain a diverse set of concepts. In the field of nursing, conceptual frameworks serve as a theoretical structure that makes it easier to understand the profession as a whole. These frameworks are typically based on philosophical concepts.

Middle-Range Nursing Theories

The specificity of middle-range nursing theories, as well as their emphasis on addressing certain facets of nursing practice, are two of the defining characteristics of this category. These guidelines provide suggestions for the implementation of clinical procedures within a specific setting or for a certain cohort of people seeking medical treatment. These guidelines were developed by the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP).

Practice Nursing Theories   

The theories used in practice nursing are distinguished by the high degree of applicability they possess and the fact that they are intended to serve as a source of direction for nursing interventions. The organization provides detailed instructions to registered nurses regarding how they should interact with patients in their daily work.

The Development of Nursing Concepts and Theories

Early Nursing Theories

The early nursing theories were distinguished by their emphasis on the artistic components of nursing. These early nursing theories encompassed principles relating to hygiene, patient care, and compassion.

Modern Nursing Theories

Modern nursing theories are differentiated by their focus on the scientific aspects of nursing. Notable examples of the era in question include Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory and Virginia Henderson’s definition of nursing. Both of these women made significant contributions to their respective fields.

In order to more effectively address the complex problems that are encountered in the field of healthcare, contemporary nursing theories have experienced significant growth. In order to provide a full understanding of nursing practice, it is necessary to incorporate concepts drawn from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, psychology, and others.

The theoretical foundations of nursing practice

The practical implementation of nursing concepts is of the utmost significance in terms of providing quality care to patients. The evaluation of patient needs, the formulation of intervention strategies, and the analysis of the results all receive assistance from these individuals, who work with registered nurses. One application of Imogene King’s goal attainment theory is the therapeutic alliance that nurses form with their patients in the hopes of accomplishing predetermined goals in a manner that is mutually beneficial to both parties. This is only one example of how the theory can be used.

The incorporation of nursing theory into educational practices and scientific investigations is an important component of the profession. Educators receive assistance from curriculum designers in the process of developing instructional plans, and students acquire a rich theoretical foundation as a result of this collaboration. Research in the field of nursing relies heavily on nursing theories because these theories provide the conceptual frameworks that direct the design of studies and make it easier to interpret the findings of those investigations.

Misconceptions that are Commonly Held Regarding Nursing Theory

Irrelevance of the Theory

Some people have the viewpoint that nursing theories have a high level of abstraction and limited practical utility. This viewpoint is known as the “theoretical irrelevance” viewpoint. Incorporating nursing theories is essential for facilitating evidence-based practice and improving patient outcomes; nevertheless, this does not negate the fact that nursing theory incorporation is essential.


The specific language and conceptual framework of nursing theories can contribute to the appearance of a certain level of complexity in nursing theories. In spite of this, these theories can be streamlined and adapted to better fit the practical nursing circumstances that arise in the real world.


It is important to keep in mind that nursing theories might not be able to cover every circumstance in its entirety, and they should not be seen as a response that is applicable everywhere. It is recommended to use them as a reference rather than as a strict regulation because this will allow for more leeway.

Questions that are asked rather often (FAQs)

1. Could you explain the significance of nursing philosophy within the context of the healthcare industry?
The provision of a logical framework for the areas of nursing practice, education, and research is made possible by nursing theory, which is the primary reason for nursing theory’s significance. This practice makes it easier to improve the quality of care provided to patients, as well as to promote nursing as a profession and as a field of study.

2. What are the advantages of nursing theories not just for nurses but also for the patients they care for?
The use of nursing theories as a guide can help nurses offer care that is of a higher quality, improve patient outcomes, and foster a more positive relationship between themselves and their patients. In addition to this, they provide an essential foundation for the development of nursing education and research as a whole.

3. Who are some of the most well-known nursing thinkers who have made a substantial contribution to the discipline of nursing?
There are a number of other famous persons who have made substantial contributions to the area of nursing theory in addition to the nursing theorists that have already been listed, such as Florence Nightingale, Virginia Henderson, and Imogene King. Madeleine Leininger, Dorothea Orem, and Jean Watson are three of the most influential thinkers in this field.

4. Could you perhaps provide some examples of how nursing theory has been put into practice in various settings?
Significant examples include Dorothea Orem’s “Self-Care Deficit Theory,” which focuses on patients’ ability to engage in self-care activities, and Jean Watson’s “Theory of Human Caring,” which emphasizes the value of nurse-patient contact. Another significant example is the “Theory of Human Caring,” which was authored by Jean Watson.

5. How exactly can nursing theory be applied on a day-to-day basis by registered nurses in the clinical setting?
The methodical evaluation of patient requirements, the development of care plans that are based on theoretical frameworks, and the critical analysis of the results of interventions are all examples of ways in which nurses are able to put nursing theories into practice in the course of their jobs.

6. Is there any criticism leveled against nursing theory, or are there any problems linked with it?
Certain detractors argue that nursing theories have a propensity to demonstrate excessive abstraction, which makes it difficult to put those theories into practice in real-world settings. In addition, the implementation of ideas into practice could provide some challenges, particularly in quickly changing healthcare environments.

Parting shot

In conclusion, nursing theory is an essential component of the profession of nursing because it provides an essential foundation upon which to build the application of knowledge, the expansion of educational opportunities, and the pursuit of research. The field of nursing has advanced through several stages of development throughout the course of time, thanks in large part to the insightful contributions made by prominent nursing theorists. The manner in which nurses provide care for patients and contribute to the field of healthcare as a whole has been profoundly influenced as a direct result of their contributions. It is essential for nurses to have a broad understanding of nursing theory in order to advance their careers and provide the highest possible level of care to patients. Nurses have the ability to effectively employ the potential of nursing theory to improve patient outcomes and move the nursing profession forward when they first address the common misconceptions that are out there and then acknowledge the value of nursing theory.


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