Nursing Theory: Discussion Questions

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PART 1 What is nursing theory? How does nursing theory differ from theories of other disciplines? How does nursing theory relate to nursing practice? Given that nursing is a hands-on, professional 'practice,' to speak of nursing 'in theory' may at first seem like a contradiction in terms. However, nursing theory is an important tool, offering the practitioner in the field a way to better make decisions. Theory acts as a guide to practice. Of course, in nursing, theory is never subsumed to the specifics of a case. Unlike philosophy or literary theory, no theory can stand apart from the realities of the need to treat a patient effectively. But nursing theory can be helpful in dealing with unexpected situations. Nursing theories consist of "concepts, definitions, models, propositions and are based on assumptions" of deductive and inductive logic (Nursing theories: An overview, 2012, Nursing Theories). While virtually all nurses have some kind of an 'idea' of how their profession should operate, this intuitive, anecdotal understanding is profoundly different from how a theory operates. A theory is "a creative and rigorous structuring of ideas that projects a tentative, purposeful and systematic view of phenomena" and is designed to "organize the relationship among the concepts to describe, explain, predict, and control practice" (Nursing theories: An overview, 2012, Nursing Theories). But while greater predictability is desirable versus, for example, the unpredictability of
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