Definition of Nursing

Nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through diagnosis and treatment of human responses, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations,” defines the American Nurses Association (ANA, 2003, p. 6).
The six main features of nursing are: provision of caring relationship to promote health; the different human experiences and responses to health and illnesses; assessment of data and knowledge to understand each age group; application of knowledge, judgment, and critical thinking to diagnosis and treatment; advancement of professional nursing knowledge; influences on social and public policy to promote social justice; and the assurance of safe, quality, and evidence based practice (ANA, 2010, p. 9).
Discussed will be the definitions and examples of human responses, nursing application, nursing actions, and nursing outcomes. Human Responses According to the ANA (2010), a human response is defined as, “the responses of individuals to actual or potential health problems, and which are the phenomena of concern to nurses” (p. 10). Human responses are basically the problems that nurses want to work on or solve. “Human responses include any observable need, concern, condition, event or fact of interest to nurses that may be the target of evidence-based nursing practice,” states the ANA (2010, p. 0). Human responses are the target of evidence-based practice in relation to birth, health, illness, and death (ANA, 2003, p. 71). An example is the care processes, which is seen in a patient who is unable to care for themselves where the nurse assumes this role to care for the patient (ANA, 2003, p. 71). Another example is physiological and pathophysiological processes such as respiration, circulation, and elimination (ANA, 2003, p. 71). Research is continuously investigating the best practice in caring for the body’s physiological process.

For example, if a patient cannot urinate, a catheter is place to aid elimination. A protocol for insertion and how often the catheter should be changed has been determined from research making it evidence-based practice. Another example of human responses is physical and emotional comfort, discomfort, and pain (ANA, 2003, p. 71). Pain medications and interventions to relieve pain are researched to find the best method to reduce pain and promote comfort. The last example of human responses is decision and choice making abilities (ANA, 2003, p. 1). Through evidence-based practice, the nurse is able to use knowledge about the best standards of practice to critically think when caring for a patient. Nursing Theory According to the ANA (2010), nursing theory is defined as, “a set of interrelated concepts, definitions, or propositions used to systematically describe, explain, predict, or control human responses or phenomena of interest to nurses” (p. 10). Nursing theory is mainly the science and reason behind what evidence-based practice is founded on.
Jean Watson was a mid-range theorist who focused on the theory of human caring (Cherry, 2011, p. 98). Her theory was summarized as, “philosophy and science of caring and humanistic nursing; this holistic outlook addresses the impact and importance of altruism, sensitivity, trust, and interpersonal skills” (Cherry, 2011, p. 95). This theory serves as a basis for evidence-based practice because caring for others is basis of nursing. Also, trust and rapport has to be evident in the nurse-patient relationship to provide adequate care in healing others. Caring promotes the notion that every human being strives for interconnectedness with other humans and with nature,” explains Cherry (2011, p. 98). The goal is for the patient to experience balance and harmony in mind, body, and soul to overcome illness (Cherry, 2011, p. 98). Nursing Actions According to the ANA (2010), nursing actions are defined as the aims to, “protect, promote, and optimize health; to prevent illness and injury; to alleviate suffering; and to advocate for individuals, families, communities, and populations. ” (p. 11).
The ANA (2010) continues by stating, “nursing actions are theoretically derived, evidence-based, and require well-developed intellectual competencies” (p. 11). For example, one nursing action/intervention to promote health is good hand hygiene by nurses to prevent the spread of infection to patients. A nursing action/intervention to prevent injury is assessing a patient’s surroundings to help prevent falls such as keeping the bed in a low position, the room uncluttered, and having the patient ask for help before trying to get out of bed. Another xample of a nursing action/intervention to promote safety for the patient and aid in the prevention of medication errors is the five rights of medication administration which are the right patient, right dose, right route, right time, and right documentation. A nursing action/intervention to prevent needle stick injury in nursing is going to the needleless system by using retractable needles, not recapping needles, and always disposing needles in the “sharps” container. Most of the tasks and procedure have a protocol and has been researched.
They have been proven as the best practice method, so it is known as evidence-based practice. Nursing Outcomes Nursing outcomes are basically the last part of the process and the final effects. The ANA (2010) explains this as: The purpose of nursing action is to produce beneficial outcomes in relation to identify human responses. Evaluation of outcomes of nursing actions determines whether the actions have been effective. Findings from nursing research provide rigorous scientific evidence of beneficial outcomes of specific nursing actions (p. 11). Human responses are the initial situation or problem.
Nursing outcomes are the final effects after the nursing theories and actions have been implemented. The outcomes are reviewed to see if it should be implemented into practice or not. The combination of the two is what defines evidence-based practice and if it is implemented then that has been found to be the best result to be put into practice. Conclusion Human responses, nursing theory, nursing actions, and nursing outcomes are essential characteristics in defining the nursing practice. Nurses are valued for their knowledge, skills, and caring to aid in improving the health of the public (ANA, 2003, p. ). Nurses are responsible for providing safe, effective, and quality care (ANA, 2003, p. 1). Nurses use human responses to anticipate actual or potential problems. They use nursing theories to assist in working on the actual or potential problem. They then implement an action to see if that will help to solve the problem. Then finally, the nurse will see if the outcome has been effective and if so they are helping to bring it into practice. Nursing will continue to be defined in the future using these characteristics of evidence-based practice.

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