Nursing theories are the foundation of the nursing profession and provide direction to, ultimately, deliver the best quality care for the patient. Before nursing was considered “a profession”, nurses would base their care on these theories. However, in today’s nursing, the focus can sometimes be more on the diagnosis than the patient. Theories such as Jane Watsons theory of Human Caring reminds us to empathize with the patient and to remember that they are more than a diagnosis. The purpose of this paper is to explain how nursing theories have influenced the current profession, how nursing cannot thrive focused only on the diagnosis of the patient, and the impact future knowledge has on these theories. Nursing theories have influenced the current profession in many ways.
One of the most influential ways has been by creating the framework of the nurse-patient relationship. The beginning started with the legacy of Florence Nightingale as she formed the first nursing theory, “The Enviromental Theory”, based on that, many other nursing theorists were born with ideas to share. For instance, Jane Watson created the Theory of Human Caring.
Now, what does that have to do with the current nursing profession? Even though the knowledge base of nursing has expanded with new science development, we still continue to use these nursing theories in today’s practice. Jane Watson’s theory focuses on the humanity of nursing Nursing theories are being faded out of nursing education and the nursing practices. The profession is more task-oriented and focused on treating the diagnosis. Zderad emphasized in her Humanistic Theory that we should be “treating individuals as subjects rather than objects and doing with them rather than to them.” In current practice, orders are written by the physicians for the nurses to carry out, and the focus sometimes shifts to the task that needs to be completed instead of taking the time to think about how this will affect the patient. Focusing only on the diagnosis, removes the patient from the equation and shatters the “nurse-patient foundation” that nursing theories are based on.
“The most critical and central issue the nursing profession must address internally is the issue of knowledge development in nursing” (Kim, 2010, p.3). Even though nurses may unknowingly use the nursing theories in their practice, the research to advance these theories has decreased. As more research was completed on nursing theories, the nursing profession started to focus more on concrete nursing interventions and therapeutics. This development was the beginning of evidence-based practice. Evidence-based practice indicated that the nursing profession should rely predominately on scientific evidence, not theoretical concepts. Jane Watson, a nursing theorist, created her theory of Human Caring and as described in her theory not focusing on the patient along with the disease impedes the nurse-patient relationship, she stated “a noncaring person is insensitive to another person as a unique individual.
As a consequence, a nurse-patient relationship can be life-destroying (leading to anger, despair, and decreased well-being), life-restraining (the patient experiences the nurse as cold and treatment as a nuisance), and life-neutral (the nurse is apathetic and detached, just doing the job).” (Watson, 2012, p.244). Researching methods to improve patient care through evidence-based practice is an important piece of the nursing profession, but we cannot forget about nursing theories without also forgetting about what it means to be a nurse. When the theories are applied to the profession along with evidence-based practices, patients begin to trust the nurse because they realize that the nurse sees them as more than just another patient, but as an individual. The increase in rapport creates a feeling of well-being, which helps the patient share their concerns with the nurse in the end. This is a chosen career path and it’s the responsibility of the nurse to keep the focus on the patient, provide the needed medical care, and to maintain the “relationship” aspect of the profession.