The Theory-Practice Relationship in Nursing: the Practitioners' Perspective

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Journal of Advanced Nursing, 1999, 30(1), 74±82 Philosophical and ethical issues The theory±practice relationship in nursing: the practitioners ' perspective Gerard M. Fealy MEd BNS RGN RPN RNT Lecturer in Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Dublin, National University of Ireland, Dublin, Republic of Ireland Accepted for publication 15 September 1998 FEALY G.M. (1999) Journal of Advanced Nursing 30(1), 74±82 The theory±practice relationship in nursing: the practitioners ' perspective Within contemporary scholarly discourse, there are a number of distinctive approaches to understanding the theory±practice relationship. Carr identi®es four principal approaches, each of which is sustained within…show more content…
The theory±practice relationship is one in which the theory that is recoverable from good practice is used to guide practice. Within the `applied-science ' approach, the theory±practice relationship is one in which theory is viewed as abstract principles that may be brought to bear on practice in order to guide and to regulate it. The `practical ' approach represents a view which upholds the art of deliberation and practical wisdom. The theory±practice relationship that is sustained by this approach is one in which theory informs practitioners ' sense of what is good practice and, in this way, offers the practitioner a way of acting that is `right ' and `just '. This approach holds practice to be an ethical activity. The fourth way of viewing theory is the `critical ' approach. This approach represents an attempt to reconcile the `applied-science ' and the `practical ', in which theory and practice are interpreted as being mutually constitutive and dialectically related. This approach views social practices as inherently `problematic ' with the theory±practice relationship being one of `ideology critique ' (Carr 1986), in which practitioners engage in critical self-re¯ection and, in so doing, can increase their self-knowledge and rational autonomy. Theory±practice relationship only will be offered here. The content of nurse practitioners ' discourse is the principal concern of this paper.

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