draw from relevant nursing theories and literature.
The argument that nurses tend to prioritize clinical skills over theoretical knowledge has been a topic of debate in the nursing profession. Research has shown that nursing education often places a strong emphasis on teaching practical skills, such as medical interventions, laboratory values, and nursing diagnoses. This focus on the technical aspects of nursing practice can sometimes lead to the neglect of nursing theory.
Nursing theory, as defined by renowned nursing theorist Martha Rodgers, is “a creative and rigorous structuring of ideas that projects a tentative, purposeful, and systematic view of phenomena” (Smith & Parker, 2014, p. 23). In other words, nursing theory provides a conceptual framework that helps nurses understand and make sense of the complex and dynamic nature of their profession. It guides nursing practice, research, and education by shaping how nurses think about and approach patient care.
However, the emphasis on clinical skills in nursing education often leaves little room for the exploration and integration of nursing theory. Many nurses perceive theoretical knowledge as disconnected from their everyday practice, viewing it as something abstract and irrelevant to their role as caregivers. This perception can be attributed to the limited exposure and understanding of nursing theory during their education.
One consequence of this disconnection between theory and practice is the potential devaluation of the nursing profession itself. When nurses fail to recognize the relevance of theory in nursing practice, they may overlook the unique contributions and perspectives that nursing brings to the healthcare team. Instead, they may perceive nursing as merely implementing medical orders and performing technical tasks, undermining the holistic and patient-centered approach that nursing theory promotes.
Several nursing theories highlight the intrinsic value of theory in nursing practice. For instance, the theory of Human Becoming, developed by nursing theorist Rosemarie Parse, emphasizes that nursing is a human science that incorporates both the art and the science of caring. According to Parse, nursing theory helps nurses to appreciate and respond to the subjective experiences and meanings of patients, providing a framework for the provision of individualized and patient-centered care (Smith & Parker, 2014).
Similarly, the theory of Interpersonal Relations, developed by nursing theorist Hildegard Peplau, underscores the importance of relationship-building in nursing practice. Peplau argues that nursing theory helps nurses to understand and navigate the complex dynamics that exist between nurses, patients, and their families. It acknowledges the role of theory in guiding therapeutic communication, fostering trust, and promoting meaningful connections between nurses and patients (Smith & Parker, 2014).
Furthermore, nursing theory also plays a crucial role in promoting evidence-based practice in nursing. Theoretical frameworks, such as the Roy Adaptation Model, guide nurses in assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluating patient care based on a scientific understanding of human responses to health and illness (Smith & Parker, 2014). By grounding nursing practice in theory, nurses can make more informed decisions and provide care that is based on the best available evidence.
In conclusion, the argument that nurses tend to prioritize clinical skills over theoretical knowledge highlights a potential issue in nursing education. The focus on technical skills often results in the under-representation of nursing theory, leading to a perceived disconnection between theory and practice. However, nursing theory holds significant value in guiding nursing practice, fostering holistic care, and promoting evidence-based practice. It is important for graduate level nurses to recognize the relevance and significance of nursing theory in order to fully understand and embrace the profession of nursing.