Nursing Theories in Nursing Practice

nursing theories
Nursing Theories
How are nursing theories used in day-to-day nursing practice to ensure patients have positive outcomes?

Nursing science is a discrete of knowledge that comprises of paradigms, theories and frameworks.  Nursing practice is deliberative, action- oriented, goal directed and coordinate work with many health stakeholders to enhance healthful living and death with dignity in both the patients and ontological realities of human features.  Nursing practice consists of coordinated process of technological problem solving processes, human to human engagement to deliver quality and cost effective care (Alligood, 2014).

The last two decades have witness an increased support and recognition for the importance of nursing theory in education sectors and clinical practice. Examples of nursing theory important to clinical practice includes Rogers, Neuman, Orem (grand theories), middle range theories and general nursing theories such as Eriksson, Nightingale, Watson, Newman among others.

Theories in nursing are developed to explain vital nursing phenomena.  These theories are used to guide clinical practice especially when collecting patient data, organizing, interpreting and making appropriate decisions related to nursing interventions. The theories act as frameworks that provide direction and frameworks for structuring nursing professionalism, education and research (Green, 2012).

Nursing theories have various utilities in clinical practice. For instance, the theories have the general unspecified role which is basically providing of general clinical practice orientations, commitments and attitudes towards fundamental nursing practice features that improves patient’s outcome. The situation specific role involves theories that are used selectively, for specific clinical situations.  

In clinical practice, theories serve as guide to patient assessment, identifying patient specific intervention and evaluation of nursing care plan. Nursing theories provide rationale for collecting of valid and reliable data regarding the health status of clients, and especially those that are effective during decision making and implementation of interventions. The theories enhance autonomy of nursing, thereby defining its own dependent functions.

This is because it enhances communication between nurses, thereby providing a common theoretical knowledge base from which the clinical practice is built. The manner in which the theory is developed influences its potential for communication during research and its applicability into practice (Alligood, 2014).

 The multiple theories in nursing practice are important because they aid in illuminating, appreciating and understanding the different components of nursing knowledge.  However, it is important to understand that nursing theories do not directly explain what one is expected to do in clinical situations. They are basically abstractions that help a registered nurse to understand, describe and prediction of patient’s outcome theoretically.

Uniqueness of each clinical situation indicates that there are complex interconnections of nursing phenomena. This is because clinical situations comprises of different human meaning and interpretations, and that the situations flow with their own time, own trajectories and histories (indicates that the clinical situations re never stable and are highly unique (Carrington, 2012).


 Alligood, M. R. (2014). Nursing theorists and their work (8th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Carrington, J. M. (2012). Development of a conceptual framework to guide a program of research exploring nurse-to-nurse communication. Computers, Informatics, Nursing, 30(6), 296-299.

Green, C. (2012). Nursing intuition: A valid form of knowledge. Nursing Philosophy, 13, 98–111. Im, E., & Chang, S. J. (2012). Current trends in nursing theories. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 44(2), 156-164.

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