Nursing As Caring

Nursing As Caring

Living Caring in Practice: The Transformative Power of the Theory of Nursing as Caring Anne Boykin, PhD, RN and Susan Bulfin, MN, RN Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing Florida Atlantic University

Savina O. Schoenhofer, PhD, RN Alcorn State University

John Baldwin, MSN, RN and Dee McCarthy, BSN, RN, MHSA Boca Raton Community Hospital Nursing As Caring

Abstract The purpose of this paper is to describe nursing as caring as a model for transforming practice. The purpose is achieved through presentation and analysis of nursing situa- tions offered by a staff nurse in an Emergency Services Department and the nurse di- rector of that department. The analysis of these situations of caring betvreen nurse and nursed illuminates the power of theory-based practice focused on enhancing living grounded in caring.

Key Words: Nursing as caring, caring, nursing theory, emergency nursing, transformative

Introduction Theory-based practice has long been Nursing As Caring

envisioned as a move forward in nursing. Having nursing practice grounded explicitly in theories of the discipline could contribute to two important objectives: coherent, effective patient care and coherence within the practice discipline of nursing as a learned profession. Tbe desire to improve coherence and effectiveness of patient care has led to the call for evidence-based prac- tice in the discipline with evidence-based practice focusing primarily on the use of de- veloped and tested middle-range theory. Arising largely at the impetus of a similar move in medicine, there are currently multi- ple and diverse perspectives of the precise meaning of evidence-based practice in nurs- ing (Banning, 2005). Regardless of the ab- sence of consensus in meaning, interest in evidence-based practice has greatly ex- panded nurses’ awareness of the value of middle-range theory and signals a growing maturity in nursing as a discipline, as a practiced discipline, and as a disciplined practice. However, as the authors of this paper, and others such as Reed (1995) Nursing As Caring

advocate, the role of grand theory as a trans- formative framework for coherent nursing practice cannot be minimized.

Connections between Middle-Range Theory, Evidence-Based Practice, and

Grand Theory Although the role of grand nursing the- Nursing As Caring

ory, or as Kikuchi (1997) terms it, nursing philosophical frameworks is not universally accepted and perhaps not universally under- stood, the evidence in the practice literature is mounting that nursing practice is increas- ingly being grounded in an explicit grand nursing theory. Further, the popular use of generic concepts of caring, unrelated to an organized nursing theoretical perspective, has not resulted in the hoped-for transfor- mations. The purpose of this paper is two- fold: (a) to propose that transformation of practice beyond the superficial or cosmetic requires the use of a fully developed con- ceptual system known as a grand nursing theory and (b) to demonstrate the value of the theory of nursing as caring (Boykin & Schoenhofer, 2001a) as a productive fVamework for transforming practice that enhances coherence and effectiveness (Boykin, Bulfin, Baldwin, & Southern, 2004). Nursing As Caring


Some may ask the question, “Why, when we have emerging middle-range theories of caring for nursing, do we need grand nurs- ing theories focused on caring?” or “Why grand nursing theories, when the clarion call in nursing seems to be for evidence- based practice, reflecting middle-range the- ories, rather than philosophic or grand theories?” Understanding answers to these questions requires, in part, that we address the failure of eclecticism in nursing practice frameworks. Successfully mixing and matching bits and pieces drawn iTom di- verse internally coherent conceptual sys- tems necessitates the disciplined development of a new conceptual system, a new philosophic theory of nursing that inte- grates the bits and pieces into a new harmo- nious whole. Often what we see in practice settings are efforts to create “eclectic” frameworks without doing the work of con- ceptual integration. Those well intentioned efforts are almost always undertaken in a desire to create a model for collective prac- tice that enhances coherence and supports a number of interrelated outcomes of care for patients as well as achievement of interre- lated goals for the nursing service and its larger healthcare system. A review of the nursing and healthcare literature, however, reveals very few enduring successes. Personal communication with colleagues reveals considerable disappointment in re- sults with ad hoc or eclectic frameworks for nursing. This pattern of disappointment seems likely to be repeated as evidence- based practice replaces earlier idealized models like shared governance and continu- ous quality improvement. Why? Because when there is no rigorously worked out grand nursing theory, no overarching sys- tem of clear and justifiable interrelated nursing values and concepts, certain desir- able though perhaps previously unarticu- lated nursing aims slip through the cracks. Nursing As Caring

Middle-range theory, the kind of theory that is most likely to serve as the immediate basis for evidence-based practice, is con- structed from a particular persp)ective or

2005, Vol. 9, No. 3

Living Caring in Practice

point of view most often, however, that point of view is unarticulated and perhaps even functions out of direct awareness of the theorist. Further, some middle-range theories are congruent with some grand philosophic nursing perspectives and not congruent with others. In order to create a coherent conceptual pattern for nursing practice, middle-range theories need to be selected that are compatible with the over- arching grand nursing theoretical perspec- tive. This coherence is most likely when the associated grand nursing theory is made ex- plicit. Examples of successful middle-range theories about caring in nursing that were developed from within an explicit grand nursing theory are Locsin’s (1995, 1998) technological competence as caring (related to Boykin and Schoenhofer’s nursing as caring) and Swanson’s (1991) middle-range theory of caring (related to Watson’s transpersonal caring). Nursing As Caring

Having briefly addressed the important role of explicit grand nursing theory as a necessary umbrella for middle-range theory and subsequent coherent evidence-based practice, we will tum now to one particular grand nursing theory, Boykin and Schoenhofer’s (2001a) nursing as caring. We will present a brief overview of the major assumptions and ideas of the theory. The remainder of the paper will focus on a description of creative, coherent, and com- prehensive processes and outcomes of care that emerged from the use of a transforma- tive practice model based on nursing as car- ing (Boykin et al., 2004) Nursing As Caring

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