Nursing theorists are the men and women in the nursing field
who develop models of nursing. Often, they don't set out to develop a nursing theory.
Instead, they simply want to help improve nursing care for their patients, and the
theory develops as a result. Once a method is established as a theory or model of
nursing, it is integrated into the practice of nursing, as well as added to the
study of nursing.
Nursing theory helps nurses use the best methods possible for their particular
nursing situations. Different theories take different approaches to handling the
patients and their care. For example, the holistic approach to nursing looks at
the patient's whole health, from physical to emotional and mental to spiritual.
In many cases, these theories apply to specific types of nursing care or different
groups of people. Often it's up to the nurses to determine the best nursing approach
for their patients. After all, a nurse isn't likely to use a nursing model that
requires the patient to participate in the care plan for neonatal intensive care.
When nursing methods develop into theories and models, they can impact how nurses
practice. Nurses adopt the theories and models in their own patient care plans.
However, the impact of the nursing theorists themselves is more weighty.
Nursing theorists are often seen as leaders in their fields. This often comes up
because they are working to make positive changes to how nurses care for their
patients, and the theories they develop are to improve the healthcare industry.
Because theorists are leaders, this leads to them becoming nursing mentors to other nurses
and nursing students. As leaders, they are admired for their accomplishments, so
nurses and nursing students want to learn from them, and look to them as mentors
in the nursing field.
This is even more likely for theorists who are currently active in nursing education,
or prominent theorists whose models are taught to nursing students. This can have
an effect on nursing students; a nursing student who identifies with a particular
theory or model may choose a nursing field that reflects that model.
Theorists in the role of mentors can also have a direct impact on nursing. Nurses
and nursing students who admire a particular theorist are more likely to use that
theorist's model in their own nursing practices. If there's a theory or model that's
particularly popular, it will be seen more often in the healthcare field since nurses
will use it.
Nursing theorists often don't set out to make such drastic changes to nursing.
Generally, they see a way they can help their patients better, and develop a theory
or model that does that. And yet, when those models are developed, the effects trickle
down all the way to nursing education, often changing how nurses see their patients
and patient care.
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