The Concept of Nursing


Human health is the most important aspect that determines the ability of people to do various activities to support their lives. The provision or availability of food, clothes and shelter is not guarantee that people will live comfortable lives because they face challenges that require expert assistance to ensure individuals are healthy. Nurses play important roles in ensuring people have access to quality medical services to get treatment, vaccines and advice on how to manage chronic illness (Bosch-Capblanch and Garner 2008). Nursing deals with the provision of preventive, curative and patience support services that promote healthy living in the society.


The American Nurses Association refers to nursing as a profession that involves the provision of health protection and promotion. This definition includes all the processes of preventing infections, alleviation of pain and treatment of injuries to reduce suffering among patients and their families (Jonsdottir 2008). This means that the services of nurses are not confined to health facilities, but extend to homes and communities. This is emphasized by the fact that nurses should promote health standards and they cannot do this if they do not participate in community awareness programs aimed at preventing diseases and promoting healthy living.

Theories and Definition of Nursing

Various scholars have proposed various ways of defining nursing sand this has led to the existence of various definitions of this term. This paper will compare the definitions of this term as expressed by two scholars named Hildegard E. Peplau and Ida Jean Orlando.

Interpersonal Relations in Nursing Theory by Hildegard E. Peplau

This theory defines nursing in terms of the needs of patients and how nurses perform different roles to ensure they offer quality services to their clients (Jonsdottir 2008). It defines nursing as intentional and focused ways of ensuring patients identify their felt difficulties. It proposes that nursing is therapeutic because it is a form of a healing art that enables sick individuals to seek and access medical aid. In addition, it defines this concept as a process of interaction between individuals that have a common goal. This means that the theory places emphasis on the importance of human relations in defining the concept of nursing. Peplau considers nursing an important therapeutic process that makes individuals to interact at different levels; therefore, this promotes the attainment of individuals’ and societal health targets (Bosch-Capblanch and Garner 2008).

Theory of Nursing Process Discipline by Ida Jean Orlando

This theory defines nursing as a process of finding out and meeting the immediate needs for patients and helps them (Jonsdottir 2008). She argues that sometimes patients do not get appropriate assistance from nurses; therefore, there is the need for members of this profession to ensure they use their perception and other issues surrounding this to understand the meaning of different behaviors. This makes nursing to have its professional outlook and develops the trust of patients in health institutions, professionals and interventions used to improve their health (Secomb 2007). She adds that nursing is defined by the scope of the observations made by nurses to ensure patients are diagnosed properly and that appropriate steps are taken to manage their conditions. The Sigma Theta Tau International argues that Orlando’s understanding of nursing is that it demands total attention from nurses to ensure they observe, learn and understand their patients (Secomb 2007). This means that they must spend time with them to observe their behavior and progress. This gives nursing a definition based on nurses’ abilities to examine patients and conduct proper diagnosis to alleviate their conditions.

The Application of the Interpersonal Relations in Nursing Theory

Peplau identified four concepts that determine the scope of nursing and its success in achieving the objectives set to promote human health (Secomb 2007). First, she defines man as an organism that is usually in regular struggle in its own way to reduce stress and tension that occurs as a result of needs. She places patients as individuals with health needs that must be addressed by qualified personnel. Peplau defines human health as a state that shows there is positive development of personality. This includes other aspects that determine the well being of individuals and communities (Bosch-Capblanch and Garner 2008). This means that sickness is a backward development of personality. She recognizes the role played by a patient’s environment and advocates for nurses to consider the traditions of a patient when the person adjusts to the routines of healthcare facilities. Peplau argues that the recovery process of patients is determined by how first they adopt to their new environments and this means that nurses must facilitate this process and help them to get used to their new homes (Jonsdottir 2008). In addition, she considers nursing to be a relationship between patients and nurses. She refers to a patient as any sick person or one who needs the services of nurses or healthcare facilities. These four aspects form the basis of her theory as she considers them key players in the provision of quality health care services.

This theorist argues that nursing is a professional and planned relationship between client and nurse that focuses on the client’s needs, feelings, problems, and ideas (Jonsdottir 2008). She identified four phases of the therapeutic nurse-patient relationship to ensure there is interaction between these two groups to achieve a common goal of promoting good health. The orientation phase is the first one and it involves engaging patients in the process of treatment by offering explanations and promoting conversations that will help the client to feel comfortable for more discussions (Secomb 2007). This process is initiated and controlled by nurses because they have an upper hand in starting conversations. The identification phase involves letting patients to work independently and express their feelings and start to show signs of regaining strength. The exploitation stage is marked by hyperactivity of patients and here they make use of all or most of the services offered in a health facility (Secomb 2007). The resolution phase marks the end of dependent behavior of patients and this is the end of the relationship between clients and nurses.


Peplau assumed that nurses and patients can interact without difficulties. This assumption has been proved wrong because there are some religious organizations that do not recognize or support modern interventions for preventing or treating diseases. This assumption makes this theory in effective in explaining the nature of different relationships between patients and nurses. In addition, it falls short of explaining the impacts of a positive nurse-patient relationship and how this contributes to quick recovery. Some critics argue that this theory is best suited to explain general aspects of nursing and because it does not focus on the actual substance of this profession (Secomb 2007). Therefore, they claim that it lacks a solid base for providing adequate information about the role of relationships in nursing.

However, they support its detailed definition of nursing and its concepts. In addition, the Johanna Briggs Institute argues that this author presents that there is an equal and a similar level of nurse and patient’s maturity after therapeutic interaction; however, there is no evidence that this is possible (Bosch-Capblanch and Garner 2008). She does not provide support to her argument and this exposes it to criticism because it lacks research or literature backup. A Strong theory usually has a thesis that is emphasized by the use of research findings or literature presentations from other scholars. However, this author seems to rely on her own perceptions to draft this theory. She used traditional modes of communication in her development of this theory and there is no explanation regarding modern tools and their impacts on patient-nurse interactions. Her failure to consider technological advancements and their use in nursing makes this theory to have limited scope of application. Therefore, this subjects her discussion to criticism and weakens her command in nursing.

The major weakness of this theory is that the stated phases simplify the natural development of the interaction between nurses and patients and this generalizes the relationship between these two parties. Nursing requires stakeholder to consider specific issues that affect the provision of quality health care services and not just merely exploring them without identifying the differences and impacts of each factor. There is the need for this author to consider restructuring this theory to ensure it presents a deep discussion of issues that determine the success or failure of nursing as a profession.


Nursing is a multifaceted concept because it addresses almost all the needs of this profession. Hildegard E. People and Ida Jean Orlando use different approaches to define this concept, but it is clear that their theories aim at explaining the role of nurses and their importance in the society.


Bosch-Capblanch, X and Garner, P. (2008). Primary health care supervision in developing countries. Tropical Medicine and International Health, 13(3), pp. 369-383.

Jonsdottir, H. (2008). Nursing care in the chronic phase of COPD: A call for innovative disciplinary research. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17(7), pp. 272-290.

Secomb, J. (2007). A systematic review of peer teaching and learning in clinical education. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17 (6), pp. 703-716.