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Custom Nursing Theories Essay

Nursing theories are interrelation of key concepts that describe the model of nursing by applying certain assumptions. The benefits of having a defined body of theory in nursing include better patient care, enhanced professional status for nurses, improved communication between nurses, and guidance for research and education (Nolan 1996).

Common Elements in Nursing Theories

Four common elements in nursing theory that are the basis of any nursing practice are:

  • The person (patient).
  • The environment
  • Health
  • Nursing (roles and functions)

Each of these elements is usually explained by a nursing theorist in a different manner although the elements are common to all nursing theories.

Kristen Swanson - Theory of Caring (1991)

Background of Theorist

Kristen Swanson received her nursing degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1975 and her master's degree in nursing in 1978 from the University of Pennsylvania. She got a doctorate degree from the University of Colorado with an emphasis in Psychosocial Nursing. Her books, periodical and journal articles and lectures have been publishing since the early 1980s.

Kirsten Swanson proposed the Theory of caring (1991), a middle range theory that focuses on pregnancy issues like miscarriage and the healing afterwards. Previous research has explored other forms of caring but Swanson's Theory goes beyond the physical aspects that health care practitioners consider to promote emotional healing from the effects of miscarriage and spontaneous abortion. Swanson describes nursing as “A nurturing way of relating to a valued other toward whom one feels a personal sense of commitment and responsibility” (Swanson 1991; 1993)

Theory’s Definition of Elements of Nursing

  • Persons/Clients: Unique and are in the process of developing and are continually growing and seeking to connect with others. According to Swanson (1991; 1993) persons are unique beings that are becoming whole through changes in their thoughts, behavior and feelings. They are molded by environment and have a free will to choose but each does not have equal choices.
  • Health/Well being: means living in such a state that one feels integrated and engaged with living and dying (Swanson 1993). Health includes connecting with others and creating lasting human bonds. Health depends on free expression (Swanson 1991, Swanson 1993) of spirituality, thoughts, feelings, intelligence, creativity, etc.
  • Environments:  are forces that influences upon or are influenced by patient and has cultural, economical, political, spiritual, social, psychological, biophysical realms (Swanson 1993). Disturbance or change in environment or realms will affect the wholeness of the other
  • Nursing: Swanson (1993) is affected by Benner’s Novice to expert. According to Swanson purpose of nursing is to focus on overall well being/ wholeness of others. It includes evidence-based practices, compassion, understanding of other, structure of caring, understanding of nursing profession (Swanson 1991).

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Theory’s Definition of Relationship Between Elements of Nursing

Theory of caring applies the five caring processes relating the four phenomena of nursing. Kirsten Swanson’s Theory of caring defines five caring processes:

  1. Knowing: related to gaining in depth knowledge of a person and avoiding assumptions in order to nurse him properly. In this process focus is on person cared for. Thorough assessment and clues seeking are the best way for knowing. In order to know the patient, the nurse must possess knowledge of self (Swanson, 1993).
  2. 2.      Being With: relates to just being there for the person leading him to the healthy status. It conveys ability of nursing. It also involves sharing feelings of the person but not-burdening. Enhanced patient well-being, smoother life transitions (Swanson, 1993)
  3. Doing For: This relates to comforting and protecting the patient, anticipating his needs and performing skillfully preserving his dignity. Increased self-esteem, reduced emotional disturbance (Swanson, 1999)
  4. Enabling: relates to help processes like informing/explaining, supporting/allowing, focusing, generating alternatives, validating/feedback
  5. Maintaining Belief: This process related to having a firm belief in the ability of person to regain health and return to normal life. This involves maintaining hope-filled attitude and offering realistic optimism to the patient and “going the distance” required to help the person.

Research Studies Directed

Kirsten Swanson’s Theory of Caring involves three categories of research studies

  • Caring and Miscarriage: the first target of theory of caring is to help mothers who have experienced miscarriage or early abortion. Theory of caring helps mother and farther (both gender) to heal emotionally and get through the crisis of loosing a child. The research directed questions in this case are questions that may help in healing the women emotionally. What are the caring behaviors of others that are identified as helpful by women who have miscarried? What constitutes caring in the instance of miscarriage?
  • Caring in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit: The next target of this theory is nursing the new born infants that are in serious conditions. Here the research questions may try to explore the experiences of Intensive care unit nursing. What is it like to be a provider of care in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU)?

The research in verifying the theory of caring has been carried by Swanson herself. The theory has been empirically derived through phenomenological inquiry and inductive methodology. Care givers, receivers, and observers were asked about their perceptions of caring, and hypotheses/relationships were then induced. Evidence for this is Swanson her self’s explanation along with other scholars (Wojnar, Lo-Biondo-Wood, Haber). 

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