What Are The Nursing Theories for Nurse Educators?

Nurse educators have the responsibility to train future generations of nurses. Their main role is to teach the key components of the leading nursing theories, helping nurses develop their critical thinking.

There are many nursing theories; however, five of them are leading concepts in modern healthcare.

If you want to become a nurse educator, it is essential to understand which they are and teach them to your students. Only in this way, future nurses will be able to use different strategies and approaches for providing optimal patient care.

Before discussing each of these five theories in detail, find out what are the nursing theories for nurse educators and why they’re important.

What Are Nursing Theories?

Theory-guided, evidence-based practice is the hallmark of nursing. Theory is the framework of this discipline, designed to explain the concept of nursing and organize information at a more concrete, specific level.

Nursing theories are concepts, assumptions, relationships, or definitions derived from the nursing model and other related disciplines.

Their role is to project a purposive, systematic view of nursing by describing specific inter-relations among concepts.

Aiming to describe, project, and predict the nursing concept, the nursing theories provide the foundation of this practice.

To nurses, the theory is important because it explicitly describes nursing and professional boundaries. You, as a nurse educator, should understand that all these theories have interrelated concepts aimed at providing different ways of looking at the same phenomenon.  

Nursing theories are the bases for hypotheses that can be tested and are always used by practitioners to guide and improve their practice.

What Are the Leading Theories of Nursing for Nurse Educators?

Modern nursing is based on five nursing theories developed to help healthcare professionals perform their duties in the best possible way.

Self-Care Theory

Developed by Dorothea Orem, this theory teaches nurses how to assist the patients to improve their self-care abilities.

For the purpose of this theory, self-care is defined as the practice of activities performed by individuals to maintain their personal health and well-being.

To implement this theory efficiently in your teaching, you must apply three inter-related theories:

  • The self-care theory: A theory centered on identifying those basic self-care processes that most individuals are capable of performing without help. Some examples of basic self-care processes include the capability to breathe, eat, and drink, preventing exposure to hazards, as well as situation-specific self-care abilities, such as seeking medical attention in case of illness or injury.
  • The self-care deficit theory: As opposed to the self-care theory, this theory focuses on situations where an individual is unable to perform continuous self-care. As a nurse educator, you must teach future nurses to provide patients with guidance and support, take actions for the sake of their patient, promote personal development and teach patients how to cope with any obstacles they may face.  
  • The theory of nursing systems: A theory that encompasses both theories above, helping nurses identify one’s need for nursing care. You must teach your students how to support people who are entirely unable to care for themselves, the nurse and patient’s roles in performing personal care, and what guidance should be given to patients capable of performing all necessary self-care activities.

Humanistic Theory

Developed by Josephine Paterson and Loretta Zderad during the 60s, this theory focuses on the humane aspect of nursing. It mixes phenomenological and existential philosophies and is centered around the idea that nurses would be able to increase patient care by examining each patient’s individual experiences and by connecting with patients personally.

In order to enhance patient care, a nurse must treat the patient as more than just a number.

Connecting with a patient requires engaging in dialogue and analyzing their views and emotional perspectives to develop a thorough understanding of the medical situation.

Nurse educators should follow the three main concepts of the humanistic theory to help nurses learn how to define themselves, their work, and the relationships they have with their patients and coworkers, to ensure that they can develop the best treatment strategies.

These three concepts are:

  • Dialogue: Establishing thorough, communicative relations through one-on-one and group dialogues.
  • Community: The ability to discover the innate meaning of one’s actions by sharing experiences and ideas with one another.
  • Empathy: It helps nurses understand the experiences and feelings of the patient within the context of humanistic dialogue.

Culture Care Theory

Developed by Madeleine Leininger, the theory is based on the concept that culture and care are essential to health and prosperity. This theory is also known as the theory of transcultural nursing, focusing on addressing the needs of patients with different cultural backgrounds in various healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and other community settings.

Nursing care professionals must accommodate and preserve their patient’s culture.

Interpersonal Relations Theory

Developed by Hildegard Peplay, the theory of interpersonal relations focuses on the significance of the partnership between nurse and patient.

By building a relationship based on mutual respect, nurses become more effective in providing care to their patients.

Nursing educators can teach this theory by explaining the concepts of:

  • Orientation: A nurse must help a patient to become engaged with the treatment process. Nurses must address all concerns and doubts, providing information, and answering any questions the patient might have about the treatment.
  • Identification: Nurses must identify themselves with the patients allowing them to open up and decrease the feeling of helplessness.
  • Exploitation: As healthcare representatives, nurses must allow patients to fully utilize the services offered to them.
  • Resolution: As the patient’s need for care has ended, nurses and patients must dissolve any professional and therapeutic relationships formed, allowing the patient to maintain a healthy emotional balance.

Need Theory

The last of the leading nursing theories for educators is the need theory developed by Virginia Henderson.

This theory focuses on increasing the patient’s independence within the hospital with the purpose to speed up their recovery.

By integrating this theory into your curricula, you can teach nurses how to develop therapeutic plans and promote patient’s strength.

The theory comprises physiological, social, psychological, and spiritual needs, including the primary needs such as sleeping and eating, communication and handling of fears, needs regarding faith, accomplishments, and recreational activities.

Nursing theories are powerful tools for nurse educators; until further theories are expanded, these five theories should help you teach your students all about the essence of nursing.

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