NU 500 Discussion Post 2: Nursing theory

Discuss the value of theory to the profession of nursing:

Nursing Practice

Theory guides nursing practice (McEwen & Wills, 2019, p. 82). Theory insightfully contributes to nursing practice “through provision of goals for assessment, diagnosis, and intervention” (McEwen & Wills, 2019, p. 82). Without nursing theories, the nursing practice would be very disorganized. Theories are the foundation of nursing practice because it gives nurses a body of knowledge to stand on in support or opposition of their nursing practice. For example, when a patient returns to the unit from an extensive procedure, I can use Nightingale’s theory promoting a quiet environment in the clinical setting, to guide my nursing practice (Johnson & Webber, 2010). A quiet and calm environment promotes rest and healing which is very much needed after a surgery. Due to the practice of nursing, theories are able to develop and form specific and concrete guidelines for the nursing practice (McEwen & Wills, 2019, p. 82). In order for nurses to provide efficient and effective patient centered care, theories need to be understood and applied meaningfully to the practice (Meleis, 2012).

Nursing Education

According to Lee (2014), theory-based nursing education guides curricular decision making. Nurses who are taught theory will ultimately be able to apply nursing theories in their critical thinking process. The ANCC (1999) published that “it is the responsibility of nursing education, in collaboration with practice settings, to shape practice, not merely respond to changes in the practice environment.” As I am working as a nurse, I plan on applying the nursing theories learned in this course to support my decision making in my clinical practice. Thus, Universities should incorporate nursing theories into their curriculum in order for theoretical concepts to be taught and applied clinically.

Nursing Research

Theories are tested in practice through nursing research (Hickman, 2011). Nursing theories motivate nurse scientists to further research and study significant nursing problems (McEwen & Wills, 2019, p. 82). Research can be used to verify, modify, disprove or support a theoretical proposition (McEwen & Wills, 2019, p. 82). Nursing research is very valuable to nursing theory because it offers the scientific data necessary to either make or break a nursing theory. Nursing theories need substantial evidence in order to be valid, and research provides the supporting evidence which can ultimately modify or further develop a nursing theory (Meleis, 2012).

Nursing Management

Nursing theories and models help guide the nursing practice of those in management and leadership positions (McEwen & Wills, 2019, p. 376). The Great Man theory evolved in the 1930’s and 1940’s; it suggests that leaders and those in management positions have certain qualities that are not possessed in those who are not in managerial positions (McEwen & Wills, 2019, p. 377). I don’t agree with this theory because some nurses may exemplify exceptional qualities and traits, such as “the desire to lead, honesty, integrity, self-confidence, drive, intelligence, and job-relevant knowledge,” however, they may not have the financial or circumstantial means to seek leadership and management positions (McEwen & Wills, 2019, p. 377). While other nurses can pretend to be charismatic and confident but, can be secretly down and depressed. Theories in regard to nursing management can stress nurses out and cause them to believe that they have to portray certain qualities in order to be an effective leader, instead of just being themselves. There are many inconsistencies in research studies designed to test trait theories of leadership (McEwen & Wills, 2019, p. 377).

Identify one way in which you could use theory to improve your practice in your present or future role.

Theory is not the property of one individual or division, it belongs to the scientific community and society at large (Powers & Knapp, 2011). I hope to use nursing theories profoundly in my nursing practice. Betty Neuman, a pioneer in the nursing field, developed the Neuman Systems Model (McEwen & Wills, 2019, p. 377). She believed that causes for stress can be identified and remedied through nursing interventions (McEwen & Wills, 2019, p. 377). One way I can use theory to improve my practice is by applying the Neuman Systems Model. For example, I had a patient who was recently diagnosed with a chronic disease and was due to be discharged. Her partner was supposed to pick her up, but after constantly calling, leaving voicemails, crying, and waiting 16 hours, her partner never showed. The patient was extremely stressed not only because of her recent diagnosis, but also, she was unsure of the status of her relationship. I was too afraid to comfort the patient. Looking back, I would definitely utilize the Neuman Systems Model to help remedy some of the patient’s stress through effective nursing interventions such as therapeutic touch, actively listening, promotion of self-care, and effective communication.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (1999). A vision of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education: The next decade. Journal of Professional Nursing15(1), 59–65.

Hickman, J. S. (2011). An introduction to nursing theory. In J. B. George (Ed.), Nursing theories: The base for professional nursing practice (6th ed., pp. 1–22). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Lee, S. (2014). Overview of Nursing Theories. Seoul National University, 12, 58-67. Retrieved from:

McEwen, M. & Wills, E. (2019). Theoretical basis for nursing (5th). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 9781496351203

Meleis, A. I. (2012). Theoretical nursing: Development and progress (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Powers, B. A., & Knapp, T. R. (2011). Dictionary of nursing theory and research (4th ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing.