Universally Understandable Concepts in Nursing

The theoretical framework is a significant basis for nursing practice. Theories allow specialists to interact, creating universally understandable concepts in nursing. Nevertheless, problems often arise from the imbalance between theories and practice, which makes theories difficult to use for practitioners. To eliminate this contradiction, theories need to be made less complicated and more operationable.

In nursing, theory is a basis and general guide for practice. Theory presents a logical set of concepts and models, which are interconnected and based on assumptions derived from empirical evidence with the use of the deductive and inductive approaches. It is theory that connects nursing with other disciplines and allows nursing to borrow methods and employ knowledge from these disciplines. Theories allow professional nurses to assemble their experience for describing a particular phenomenon. Moreover, theories are needed for the communication among nurses and research collaboration: it creates specific ways to describe phenomena, which enables nurses to understand the thoughts of each other. Theories also present a base for testing hypotheses. The theoretical framework of nursing is developed in the course of a dynamic process that emerges from practice and is repeated in research. Theories offer measures for nursing practice and suggest the ways to establish a diagnosis. Ideally, the nursing practice must be based on theory and supported by research (Bousso, Poles, & Cruz, 2014).

Despite the obvious need for a theory, problems with the use of theories often occur in nursing. As N. McCrae (2011) puts it, “the discipline lacks esoteric expertise” (p. 222). What the researcher means is that nursing has been a purely practical discipline for the most part of its existence, which makes the use of theories in nursing particularly complicated. The following complications exist in the use of theories in nursing. First, nursing practitioners often feel like a theory is redundant. As an example, in some clinics, the use of a theory turns into a long bureaucratic process, which does make it redundant. Second, nursing theory is often criticized for being overloaded with philosophical terminology, which alienates theory from evidence-based practice. Third, theory is often perceived by nurses as a breach of their professional authority: they want to rely on their own practical experience rather than do what some researchers believe they should do. Finally, some thinkers reject nursing models for being anachronistic to the contemporary healthcare (McCrae, 2011).

However, theory definitely needs to take its rightful place in the nursing process. To ensure the proper use of theories in nursing, they need to be less philosophical and more directly connected to practical experience. Therefore, theories need to be made less complicated and more operationable previously to applying them to clinical settings. This requirement is determined by the specificities of nursing and its history as a discipline more practical than theoretical. Take, for example, the ethics care theory. Ethics is an independent discipline, which is separate from nursing and healthcare in general. It is closely intertwined with philosophy and, for sure, it is philosophically overloaded. Ethics care theory in nursing has this feature as well. In nursing, ethics care theory is intended to define the steps of the caring process: “caring defines nursing” (Lachman, 2012, p. 113). It requires the theory to be as simple and practical as possible, especially in emergency room nursing, where the high level of potential danger and stress leaves no time for philosophy.

In conclusion, while theories are the basis for nursing practice, many contradictions arise between them and practice. To be applied to clinical settings, theories have to be made less complicated and more operationable.


Bousso, R.S., Poles, K., & Cruz, D. (2014). Nursing concepts and theories. Revista da Escola de Enfermagem da USP, 48(1), n.p. Web.

Lachman, V.D. (2012). Applying the Ethics of Care to Your Nursing Practice. MEDSURG, 21(2), 112-116.

McCrae, N. (2011). Whither Nursing Models? The value of nursing theory in the context. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 68(1), 222-229.