In simple definition terms, nursing is the work of caring for those individuals who are injured, ill, or infirm (Timofeeva, 2002). It incorporates collaborative and self-directed care of people of all communities, families or ages in all settings. Some of the key nursing roles include research, promotion of a safe environment as well as participation in management of patient and health systems (Potter & Dawson, 2001). On the other hand, nursing philosophy is a conceptual structure that provides a frame of reference meant for use by nurses in guiding their observations, practices, thinking as well as interpretations.
In the past, the nursing profession was considered to be female dominated only but recently, it has been observed that more and more males are willing to join in this particular line of profession, without having feelings of inferiority or shame as far as the society’s opinions are concerned (George, 2002). A nurse’s main responsibility is to care for the sick or injured and ensure they recover or maintain optimal health as well as functioning (Potter & Dawson, 2001). Other responsibilities include provision of intellectual, emotional and psychological support, promotion of what best suits a client and ensuring that all his/her needs are catered for. In addition, nurses are responsible for the provision of direct care and promotion of comfort for the client and provision of useful and important information that assists clients to acquire new knowledge as well as technical skills and learn in the process (Timofeeva, 2002).
Origin and Importance of Nursing Theories
Recent studies have revealed that theory and nursing philosophy are related in a complex manner for instance, well recognized nursing theorists by the names of Margaret Newman, Dorothy Johnson, Sister Calista Roy, Ida Jean Orlando, Dorothea Orem and Florence Nightingale are also considered nursing philosophers (Timofeeva, 2002). A nursing theory can be defined as an expression arising from a perspective viewed philosophically explaining some occurrence (George, 2002). It is normally used to describe accumulation of knowledge and includes research and experiments meant to define nursing practice and nursing in general. Nursing theories can be observed to have originated from the first ever theorist, Florence Nightingale, who before developing her nursing theory, nurses were only required to care for the patient as per the doctor’s orders (Marriner-Tomey & Alligood, 2006).
Nursing theories play a vital role in guiding research, education and practice in the nursing field. They not only provide direction to the nursing practice but also promote further knowledge development and establish nursing as a profession (Potter & Dawson, 2001). Nursing theories aim to predict, explain and describe the nursing phenomenon while distinguishing what should create the foundation of practice by describing nursing (Marriner-Tomey & Alligood, 2006).
Florence Nightingale Nursing Theory
Florence Nightingale, a renowned nursing philosopher who lived in the early 19th century, practice nursing in a small community in Europe which did not have adequate facilities to enable her to properly and adequately care for the ill patients (Marriner-Tomey & Alligood, 2006). There was mainly lack of clean and fresh air due to heavy and constant use of coal as fuel for majority of the homes that needed the heat. Her focus on environmental health issues prompted her to develop certain concepts as concerns general health. According to her, external influences are capable of preventing, contributing to or suppressing disease or death (Timofeeva, 2002).
Nightingale’s concepts as concerns health was that it was not only maintained by taking control of the environment in which a person inhabited but was to assist in the maintenance of well being through the use of an individual’s power (George, 2002). On the other hand, nursing provided good and healthy diet, fresh air, cleanliness as well as quietness and warmth in the facilitation of an individual’s reparative process (Timofeeva, 2002). In today’s world, nurses are continually being taught on the importance of hydration and clean water systems for patients but are not taught on how best to secure and protect clean water sources. In her theory, Nightingale discusses noise, water quality, nutrition and air quality which she perceives as being fundamental essentials of patients (Potter & Dawson, 2001). Even though other nurses and theorists wrote directly or indirectly as concerns the environment in healing and health, no one has been recorded as being specifically focused on the importance of nursing’s attention to environmental factors as Florence Nightingale (Marriner-Tomey & Alligood, 2006).
Advantages and Disadvantages of being a Nurse
There are a number of advantages associated with becoming a professional or registered nurse. For instance, the very first thing that any employed nurse enjoys is the basic salary. Nurses and doctors are considered amongst the highest paid professions in the world (Timofeeva, 2002). Statistics show that registered nurses command a salary of approximately $63,000 annually and in addition to this, benefits and bonuses are included in the package. Another advantage associated with this profession is that of job security. As the current population continues to rapidly increase, the demand for nurses is also on the increase and this is a guarantee of job security for majority of nurses, doctors and those individuals aspiring to become nurses or doctors in future (George, 2002). Unlike other careers, doctors and nurses are assured of their profession regardless of economic hardships. Having or working under flexible schedules and from flexible locations is yet another advantage enjoyed by the nursing profession (Timofeeva, 2002). This can be attributed to the fact that patient care needs to occur around the clock, making the nurses to work numerous shifts or on call (George, 2002). In general, nurses have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other individuals and this alone serves as a great advantage.
Despite the advantages in the nursing profession, there are also a few disadvantages associated with nursing. For instance, being a first time nurse can cause great fatigue and burnout (Timofeeva, 2002). Due to numerous vacancies in the nursing sector as well as shortage of nurses all over the world, patients tend to accumulate in many local as well as major hospitals and this results in the few available nurses being overloaded with work. The work of a registered nurse can be mentally and physical taxing and since majority of them witness patients passing on in addition to forming some level of attachment, it causes burnout (Potter & Dawson, 2001). The possibility of becoming exposed to or accidentally contracting contagious diseases is another disadvantage experienced in the nursing profession (Timofeeva, 2002).
Nurses are more often than not exposed to all kinds of patients, including mentally unstable patients. Under such conditions, these nurses are at a risk of exposing their bodies to harm caused by these mentally unstable patients (Potter & Dawson, 2001). Due to their schedules, nurses are called to work around the clock including holidays and weekends. This is a disadvantage in that they rarely find time to spend with their families and friends as well as their own personal quiet time (Timofeeva, 2002).
Nursing, a profession considered both scientific and artistic, needs creativity when executing it. Its art lies in implementation of principles as well as concepts of nursing theory in addition to the design of personal care using nursing process. The main objective of nursing is to implement therapeutic interventions through use of humanistic approach to be able to help the family, community and the individual in attaining the maximum required potential health.