Why Is Nursing Theory Important in Nursing Education

Why Is Nursing Theory Important in Nursing Education?

Nursing theory or theories guided practice scales up the standards of nursing principles by enabling nurses to provide a medium to care better for patients and even explain the course of action they have taken through their documentation, charting, and cheat sheets. However, in the recent past evidence-based nursing practices received more backing than nursing theory-based practices. As a result, studies were conducted among varied patient pools to see if the nursing theory is better or even more efficient. It was found that in the majority of the cases, the nursing theory still holds relevance and must be given due importance.

The fundamentals of nursing theory are a collection of knowledge that describe nursing concepts and motivational grounds that help future nurses. These associations or bodies advocate the various nursing theories to define nursing as a distinct profession that is unique from other fields.

Nursing Education

Studies also pointed out that in Eastern and Western parts of the world, nursing theories have been used to guide their practice. It is an effective method than conventional nursing practices and must be encouraged to be used by nurses during their clinical exposure to patients.

Few popular nursing theories

  • Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale also known as the lady with a lamp used to nurse wounded soldiers on the war front. She developed the environmental theory that revolved around employing the patient’s environment to support him in his recovery. It was understandable that during the war, caring for patients with limited medical and other essential supplies led her to develop this theory.

This theory is still followed by nurses during situations like the recent pandemic where there were medical supply concerns and other mass emergencies like earthquakes and natural disasters.

  • Ida Jean Orlando

Ida Jean Orlando stressed the reciprocal relationship between nurse and patient. It was viewed that mutual interaction between the patient and the nurse can endorse the professional responsibility to determine their immediate needs and assist them in providing them.

  • Imogene King

As an extension to the environment theory of nursing propagated by Florence Nightingale, Imogene King proposes the theory of goal attainment. As per this theory, a nurse is regarded as a part of the patient’s environment and stresses improving the nurse-patient relationship for achieving goals for good health.

  • Betty Neuman

Neuman was the first person to point out the effects of the stress response on nurses and how to manage it. As per her, nursing cares for the whole person and there are many needs. She believes that nursing is a special profession since a nurse’s capabilities to influence a patient’s reaction to stress will help in inducing an effective treatment plan and stabilize the client.

  • Virginia Henderson

Henderson’s proposed theory is based on 14 different concepts of wellness management that help in preventive and promotive practices in nursing care. With licensure requirements in nursing established, Henderson’s concepts of nursing is a comprehensive reference manual that tries to establish a healthy body’s core physiological, metabolic, and mental stature in the patient care practices of the nurses.

Breathing regularly, eating normal food and liquids, eliminating body wastes, personal hygiene, ability to move in desired positions, and leading a gratifying life full of purpose are some of the features comprising the 14 points that form the basis of this theory.

How to implement nursing theories in practice?

New nurses are overwhelmed with their role and by the time they understand the key to effective nursing is in establishing a balanced relationship with the patients, they might have learned a lot through error and trial. However, to avoid any major mishaps, it helps to implement the fundamentals of nursing theories into practice. Nurses should try to learn this through their education and community during their program and on the job. Here are a few tips for involving nursing theories in practice for improving the standards and safety of patient care that future nurses can follow:

  • Join a community

Nursing associations help a nurse in building professional growth by imbibing the right values, helping one through the latest research on applied nursing practices, and revisiting standards of nursing care that form the crux of the profession.

  • Due importance to charting and cheat sheets

Nurses’ charting and cheat sheets help in effective documentation of everything that nurses did during the shift and it is specific for every patient.

  • Discuss with colleagues

The Nursing profession follows a hierarchy with senior nurses and fellows always reaching out to new nurses till they find their ground. By discussing care-related doubts, inhibitions, or general topics with them, you will eliminate any possibility of errors that can be detrimental to patient care.

  • Comprehend the patient’s needs

The core component of nursing is the care and it is not a measurable aspect. There are many situations when there is no perfect right or wrong and one decision can be better than the other situation per se. A nurse cannot always go by rule-of-thumb and there need to be exceptions. It helps not comprehend the patient’s needs specifically and then start the general nursing that you have learned and practiced.


Following nursing, theories have helped many nurses develop stronger nurse-patient relationships that effectively translated into better engagement and adherence from the patient’s end and improved outcomes as a result of the efforts.

Nurses have to evolve continuously to keep their professional status better and always attract headhunters for better pay structures. When a nurse is strong with her fundamentals, networking, and professional upgradation will help them scale up their careers faster.

The nursing communities strive for better patient care, increased professional status for nurses, better channels of communication, and direction for research and education opportunities. All these aspects depend on the nurse’s ability to implement nursing theories in their daily practice.

Nurses need to break down the theories into four core paradigms involving patient, environment, nursing, and health when administering the treatment plan and caring for patients based on the fundamentals of the various nursing theories.

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