Nursing Theories and a Philosophy of Nursing

There is a direct correlation between nursing theories¬†and a nurse’s individual philosophy of nursing. Nurses will likely find themselves using certain nursing theories or models frequently, which are often influenced by their practice field. For example, a nurse working in mental health will likely use nursing theories that focus on the relationship between the nurse and patient, while a nurse working in rehabilitation will use theories that help the patient become more independent. Because of this, nursing theories and philosophies of nursing go hand-in-hand, and the terms are sometimes interchangeable in the minds and practice of individual nurses.

What is a nursing theory?

A nursing theory, also called a nursing model, is a framework developed to guide nurses in how they care for their patients. Often, these frameworks define the practice of nursing, identify the role of the nurse, and explain the nursing process as it relates to the idea behind the nursing theory. Many nursing theories are created from nurses’ observations during their own careers, as well as methodologies they developed during their individual practice. These theories are then presented with scholarly evidence to support them. Some theories are accepted by the nursing field as legitimate models of nursing, and can even go on to be taught to nursing students as normal nursing procedures in specific nursing situations.

What is a philosophy of nursing?

A philosophy of nursing is an approach to nursing, usually created by individual nurses in their own daily practice in the field. A nurse uses his or her philosophy of nursing to explain what he or she believes nursing is, the role nursing plays in the health care field, and how he or she interacts with patients. A philosophy of nursing also addresses a nurse’s ethics as it relates to the practice of nursing. For example, are there any “lines” a particular nurse will cross? If so, which ones? Under what circumstances? A philosophy of nursing guides a nurse as he or she practices each day.

How are they related?

Nursing theories and philosophies of nursing are related because they directly affect each other. A nurse’s philosophy of nursing will determine what types of models or theories he or she uses, just as the nursing theories used will help develop his or her personal philosophy. In some ways, nursing theories and philosophies are the same in that both provide a way for nurses to approach their daily practice and their individual patients that provides the best care for them.