Theory & Nursing’s Social Policy Statement


Nursing’s Social Policy Statement has been an extremely influential text in recent nursing history. It is remarkable for the nursing profession to have a social policy statement. It potentially guides the social responsibilities of the nursing discipline and profession. However, nurses should support the view of the world it represents. Therefore, understanding these responsibilities is essential since there is a strong bond between nursing and society. The nursing profession speaks strongly about this bond in its Social Policy Statement (American Nurses Association (ANA), 2010). The statement by the ANA encapsulates the in-depth commitment of nursing to society. This profound new edition of a continuing ANA classic defines nursing’s value and accountability to society (ANA, 2010).

The subject matter of Nursing’s Social Policy Statement

Nursing’s Social Policy Statement includes a description of nursing in the United States and the social responsibility of the profession. Moreover, it describes the nursing profession and its essential elements: social context and contract, definition of the nursing, knowledge base of nursing practice, scope and standards of practice, authority for practice, and regulation of practice (ANA, 2010). These elements have been revised to nurture the ongoing advances in nursing practice and knowledge while articulating the deep societal commitments of the profession (ANA, 2010).

As for the social context of nursing, the authority for the practice of nursing is based on a social contract that acknowledges professional rights and responsibilities as well as mechanisms for society accountability (ANA, 2010). The nursing profession fulfills society’s needs with qualified and prepared nurses who develop and maintain an ethical code of practice (LaSala, 2009; Milton, 2008; Milton, 2010). It also supports the development of nursing theory and research to explain observations and guide nursing practice (ANA, 2010). This is the main reason for the existence of the nursing profession: society has acknowledged the needs and benefits of the offered services, and allowed nurses to function autonomously with self-regulation.

Definition of nursing

Over the years, the definition of nursing has reflected the essential features of professional nursing (Trossman, 2010). This definition included four essential characteristics of nursing: phenomena, theory application, nursing actions, and outcomes (ANA, 2010). The major concern of nursing is the human response to observed needs or situations, to improve patients’ outcomes, which is determined through evaluation as reflected in the framework of the nursing process (ANA, 2010). During this process, interrelated concepts about practice, the development, and the application of theory are identified. The development of theory in nursing is the intellectual process that leads us to the discovery of knowledge (Tomey & Alligood, 2002). Nursing actions are theoretically derived which reflects the responsibility of the profession to have a practice that is based on sound and reliable knowledge (ANA, 2010). More so, evaluation provides insight into practice interventions and guides research. Eventually, this will link between practice actions and research, and therefore, theories can be generated or verified accordingly (Meleis, 2007).

Theory development

One can consider theory development in a simple view: it provides a way to identify and express key ideas about the essence of the practice. With the help of theory development that essence may be explored (Walker & Avant, 2010). Nursing’s Social Policy Statement describes the essence of the profession which delineates that theory development and application are essentially important components in the social contract (ANA, 2010). Nursing theories will guide nursing’s professional commitment to society. Many nursing theories have been tested and have guided practice. Nurses continue to conceptualize their efforts to generate, and test theories. Most importantly, theoretical methods develop a well-defined and organized nursing knowledge, and that is important for the nursing discipline (Chinn & Kramer, 2008). Nursing, as a profession, has a social mandate to contribute to the good of society through knowledge-based practice. Knowledge is built upon theories, and theories together with disciplinary goals are the guiding frameworks for practice (McCurry, Revell & Roy, 2009).

Nursing’s Policy Statement claims that theory development and application in nursing is an essential tool that provides nurses with the framework for their clinical decision-making and ensures accountability by increasing transparency of their actions (Meleis, 2007). Theories are useful for organizing, classifying, and interpreting information used to guide those actions (McCurry, Revell & Roy, 2009). Theories are tools that render practice more effectively and efficiently by identifying the means and goals of the practice, in addition to identifying outcomes (Meleis, 2007). Society is more likely to seek and respond effectively to nursing care when nursing goals driven by nursing knowledge are clearly articulated (Meleis, 2007).


In conclusion, the social policy statement describes the crucial role of professional nursing in society and health care (ANA, 2010). It speaks to the heart of nursing and the practicing nurses. One of the key elements of the document is the principle that nurses have a social contract with society. It articulates the commitment of nurses to responsibly utilize resources in the service of providing efficient, safe, holistic, and patient-centered nursing care to society (ANA, 2010).


American Nurses Association. (2010). Nursing’s Social Policy Statement (2010 Edition). Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association.

Chinn, P.L., & Kramer, M.K. (2008). Integrated Knowledge Development in Nursing. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

LaSala, C. A. (2009). Moral Accountability and Integrity in Nursing Practice. The Nursing Clinics of North America, 44(4), 423-434. Web.

McCurry, M. K., Revell, S. M., & Roy, S. C. (2010). Knowledge for the Good of the Individual and Society: Linking Philosophy, Disciplinary Goals, Theory, and Practice. Nursing Philosophy : An International Journal for Healthcare Professionals, 11(1), 42-52. Web.

Meleis, A. (2007). Theoretical Nursing: Development and Progress. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkens.

Milton, C. L. (2008). Accountability in Nursing: Reflecting on Ethical Codes and Professional Standards of Nursing Practice from a Global Perspective. Nursing Science Quarterly, 21(4), 300-303. Web.

Milton, C. L. (2010). Nursing Ethics and Power in Position. Nursing Science Quarterly, 23(1), 18-21. Web.

Tomey, A., & Alligood, M. (2002). Nursing Theorists and Their Works. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Trossman, S. (2010). Citizen Nurse. Social Policy Statement: Defining Nursing’s Link to Society. The American Nurse, 42(5), 1-2.

Walker, L., & Avant, K. (2010). Strategies for Theory Construction in Nursing. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.