Definition Of Nursing Essay Examples
Definitions of nursing are important because they help to clarify the roles of nurses within multidisciplinary health care teams, in the development of nursing education curricula, and the identification of areas that need further research. Conceptualizations of nursing also help to describe nursing to those who do not understand it, in the determination of which staffs to delegate nursing functions to, and in policy development (Royal College of Nursing). In this paper, the concept of nursing will be defined and explored.
Nursing is defined differently by different nursing professional bodies. All definitions of nursing conform to the definition of nursing prescribed by the International Council of Nurses (ICN).The ICN conceptualizes nursing as encompassing both autonomous and collective care of people of all ages, groups, families, and communities, sick or well in all settings. According to the council, nursing incorporates the prevention of illness, promotion of health, and care of the sick, disabled, and dying. The key nursing roles outlined by the council include advocacy, research, promotion of a safe environment, education, and participation in the formulation and implementation of health policies (International Council of Nurses).
The American Nurses Association (ANA) (1995) defined nursing as “the diagnosis and treatment of human responses to health and illness.” According to the ANA, nursing care and research focuses on self-care processes; the impact of physiologic and pathophysiological processes on activities of daily living; comfort, pain, and discomfort; transitions across the life span; meanings ascribed to health and disease; affiliative relationships; and environmental systems (Smeltzer, Hinkle, Cheever and Bare). The UK Royal College of Nursing, on the other hand, defines nursing as “the use of clinical judgment in the provision of care to enable people to improve, maintain, or recover health, to cope with health problems, and to achieve the best possible quality of life, whatever their disease or disability, until health.” Notably, although there are many definitions of nursing, the common core of nursing expressed by the various definitions tends to remain constant. This common core is supported by six defining characteristics. The six characteristics are indispensable to the understanding of nursing as a concept and help to delimit it from other concepts. The defining characteristics of nursing are a particular purpose, focus, mode of interventions, value base, domain and commitment to partnership (Royal College of Nursing).
The purpose of nursing, as expressed in the definitions, is to promote growth and recovery, health, healing, and to prevent illness, injury, disease, and disability. When caring for the ill or disabled, the aim of nursing is to minimize suffering and distress and to help people understand and cope with their illness and/or disability, treatments, and repercussions. For patients in whom death is inevitable, the goal of nursing is to maintain the highest quality of life possible. Nursing utilizes a specific mode of interventions. Nursing interventions focus on empowering people, and aiding them to achieve, sustain, or recover their independence. Relating to the mode of interventions, nursing is a moral, intellectual, physical, and emotional process which entails the identification of nursing needs; personal care and therapeutic interventions; physical, spiritual and emotional support; education, information, advice, and advocacy. Nursing practice incorporates in addition to direct patient care, teaching, management, and policy and knowledge development (Royal College of Nursing).
Regarding the realm of nursing, it focuses on the domain of people’s unique responses to illness, injury, disability, frailty, experience of health, and health-related events in different circumstances and environments. These responses may be psychological, physiological, social, spiritual, or cultural, and they often occur in combination. The term “people” refers to persons of all ages that is, throughout the lifespan. It is not limited to individuals only but also encompasses families and communities (Royal College of Nursing).
On the focus of nursing, it focuses on the person as a whole and on human responses as opposed to a specific aspect of a person or a specific pathological condition. On nursing’s value base, it is based on ethical values which recognize the autonomy, dignity, and uniqueness of individuals, respect the therapeutic nurse-patient relationship, and foster acceptance of personal accountability for one’s decisions or actions. These values are enshrined in written codes of ethics, and reinforced by professional regulations (Royal College of Nursing).
Finally, nurses work in partnership with their patients, patient carers and relatives and together with other members of the multi-disciplinary health team. When appropriate, they lead this team performing the roles of prescribing, supervising, and delegating work to others. On other occasions, they work in teams led by others. They, however, remain individually and professionally accountable for their personal actions and decisions (Royal College of Nursing).
In conclusion, many definitions of nursing have been advanced so far. These definitions are conceptualized by professional nursing bodies and aligned with that of the International Council of Nurses. They reflect the diverse, unique, and dynamic nature of nursing. The various definitions reflect a common core and are supported by six essential characteristics. These characteristics include a particular purpose, focus, mode of interventions, value base, domain and commitment to partnership.
International Council of Nurses. Definition of Nursing. International Council of Nurses, 12 April
2010. Web. 18 October 2012.
Smeltzer, Suzanne Connell, Janice L Hinkle, Kerry H Cheever, and Brenda G. Bare. Brunner
and Suddarth’s textbook of medical surgical nursing. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA:
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2009. Print.