In this paper I will explore the elements of nursing theory and how I believe they are all tied together. I believe that a man’s health will be directly affected by his environment and his nursing care. The four elements of Nursing Theory are man, environment, health and nursing; the most important of these is man. I believe that man is a complex being, and like the fingerprint, no two are alike. Although some can be placed into subgroups based on things like sex, ethnicity, age, culture or religion; no two patients can be cared for in exactly the same manner and produce the exact same results.
There are other factors to consider; which brings me to environment. One’s surroundings can play a major role in a person’s health or recovery. It can impact someone both physically and mentally. Studies have shown there is such thing as seasonal depression, where people are more depressed during the fall and winter months (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research , 2009). This shows a direct link between man’s emotional health and environment. Small things, such as a quiet room with a window to allow sunlight or fresh air in, or the smell of fresh cut grass or a rosebush in bloom can alter someone’s mood.
I believe when a patient is in better spirits, they will also be more compliant to nursing care. Rather than expecting a quick and full recovery from a patient placed in a dark, cold room with no windows or with distracting noises. Environment also plays a crucial role in one’s physical health. Substandard living conditions can promote illness by breeding bacteria which can be then passed onto others. Lack of clean water to drink or bathe with is a real problem in third-world countries where the mortality rate is much higher.
I agree with Florence Nightingale when she stated the following about what nursing ought to be: “It ought to signify the proper use of fresh air, light, warmth, cleanliness, quiet, and the proper selection and administration of diet–all at the least expense of vital power to the patient” (Nightingale, 1860). Another element is health. It can be viewed as interior or exterior, physical or mental, or a combination of all these. In a superficial meeting with someone, your initial judgment of their health is based on what you see. A woman you work with jogs everyday and eats well-balanced meals.
She is of sound mind. Generally, she is viewed as a very healthy individual. However, what if you found out that she is HIV positive? Or that she was diagnosed as having Multiple Personality disorder. Would you still view her as that same picture of health? Culture also plays a role in what we view as healthy. In our media-based society, we see 5’11” women weighing around 110 pounds on the covers of magazines and on television. This is what our society promotes as “healthy”. However, in other cultures, the bigger – the healthier – the better.
Age is another factor that comes into play with health. We tend to see the elderly as being frail and unhealthy, but this isn’t always true. Although age may affect our body and it’s systems, does this mean that an 80 year old is unhealthy? I say no. I believe that health should also be individualized. A 65 year old diabetic who is well educated about his disease, maintains self control, and follows a strict medication and exercise regimen, is as healthy as that person can be. I don’t think we can compare his health to that of a 25 year old athlete for instance.
Sister Callista Roy believed that health was defined as successful coping with stressors (Zerwekh, & Claborn, 2009). This is the best way to view health in my opinion. Not many people are healthy in every way, so I believe the definition of health should be based on each patient and what their best potential health could be. Lastly, there is nursing. I would personally define nursing as the individualized physical, mental, and emotional care of patients, taking into account the environment in which I intend on providing that care, along with cultural or social beliefs that may potentially affect the care I provide.
The care I provide while “nursing” my patient back to health will be influenced by Erikson’s developmental stages and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and where my patient falls into each of these models. Nursing is also preventative. Patients need nursing not only when they are ill, but also before they get to that point. One of nursing’s primary focuses should be prevention. Betty Neuman’s Systems Model states there are three levels of prevention. Exercise, healthy eating, and sleep maintenance would be considered primary prevention, what one does to prevent illness.
Secondary prevention is implemented after an illness begins to prevent further damage or death. Tertiary prevention is based on rehabilitation to get the patient back to a better state of health (Zerwekh, & Claborn, 2009). The elements of nursing theory are all intertwined and cannot be separated. One affects the other and so on. Because everyone is different and every circumstance is unique, we use evidence-based practice to guide our profession. “Professional nurses use theories from nursing and from the behavioral sciences to collect, organize, and classify patient data and to understand, analyze, and interpret patients’ health situations.
Theoretical concepts and theories guide all phases of the nursing process, including planning, implementing, and evaluating nursing care, while also describing and explaining desired responses to and outcomes of care” (Taylor, Lillis, LeMone, & Lynn, 2008, p85) Every aspect of the man should be considered when planning his care. This includes his current state of health (mental, physical, and emotional) and his environment. Goals should be set on what is attainable for that particular patient. Nursing can only be purposeful and successful when looking at the bigger picture, but being able to focus in on the individual.