Art of Nursing According to Virginia Henderson Research Paper

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Art of Nursing According to Virginia Henderson

Virginia Henderson has tremendously helped to bring a new perspective of the art of nursing. For this reason, her biographical sketch together with educational and professional details earned her the name the Modern-day Mother of nursing and the Nightingale of modern nursing. Virginia Henderson's theory was a major stride in the field of nursing and in the art of nursing. The theory has also been used by the theorist to come up with another definition of nursing. The art of nursing according to Virginia Henderson has had major implication on nursing and is of relevance to the current nursing practices. This paper will give a biographical sketch of Virginia Henderson. In addition to this her educational and professional overview will be analyzed also. Henderson's theory and its applications will then be reviewed where the four major concepts constituting it will be looked at. The paper will then examine the implication of her theory to nursing practice and its relevance in the contemporary practice. Finally a synopsis of the theory will be presented in the paper.


The ability to figure out a connection between the nurses personally and those people around them has proven to be an elusive personality however, it is extensively renowned globally. Art generally refers to the outcomes of a certain practice as well as those skills and the know-how manifested in the process or is required to perform that specific task. There is some kind of rhythm and some level of creativity also linked to nursing as an art. Therefore, nursing can be described as the creation of a healing environment of a patient through the intangible connection between the nurse and the patient (Henderson, 1956).

Biographical sketch

As well as being referred to as the Nightingale of Modern Nursing, others also refer to Virginia Henderson as the Modern-Day Mother of Nursing and the 20th century Florence Nightingale. She was born in 1897, in a city known as Kansas, in Missouri as the 5th born in a family comprising of 8 siblings. Most of her formal years she got to spend in Virginia and later on, she was awarded a Diploma certificate for the Nursing training she underwent at the Army School of Nursing at Walter Reed Hospital, Washington D.C in 1921 (Henderson, 1991).

Later, she worked for two years after graduation at the Henry Street Visiting Nurse Service. In 1929, Henderson decided that she needed to further her education and joined the Teaching College at Columbia University where she managed to attain a Bachelor's Degree (in 1932) and later on a Master's Degree (in 1934). Afterwards, she managed to join Columbia as a faculty member where she stayed until the year 1948 (Herrmann, 1998). She passed on in March 19, 1996 (Henderson, 1991).

Educational and professional overview

Apart from receiving abundant recognitions for her splendid contribution to the nursing industry, she had other contributions to the art of nursing and nursing in general (Henderson, 1991).Some of these contributions included: creation of the basic nursing curriculum used by the National League for Nursing whereby the education was generally centered on the patient and the organization was done around nursing problems as opposed to the cases where organization is done on medical diagnoses. Secondly, she did the revision of the Hammer's classics textbook of nursing for come up with the fourth edition and later wrote the fifth edition moreover incorporating the definition of nursing according to her personal understanding (Sitzman & Eichelberger, 2005).

Thirdly, although she had already retired, she conducted frequent visits to nursing schools into her nineties. In another instance, the profession of nursing in America and all over the globe was greatly influenced by her works. Revalidation of the fundamental concepts of nursing was undertaken by Virginia Henderson 1978 at the Yale University School of Nursing. Lastly, Virginia Henderson put across an argument stating that there is a need for the nurses to undergo thorough preparations in order to receive the broadest role of humanity understanding (Henderson, 1982).

In addition to the contributions Virginia Henderson brought to Nursing and the Art of Nursing, she did some publications. Among these publications were: Textbook for the principles and practices of Nursing in 1956 in collaboration with B. Hammer. The second publication was The Nature of Nursing: A Definition and Implication for Practice, Research and Education in 1966. Thirdly was The Nature of Nursing Reflections after 20 years in 1991 and finally is Analysis of Nursing Theory Images of Nursing from 1950- 1970 (Nursing Theory and Theorists, 2008).

Review of Henderson's theory and its application

The Henderson's Theory is comprised of four major concepts. The first concept is about the individual. That is to say: is the individual having basis needs are regarded as the health components; does the individual require any form of assistance in there pursuit of health and independence or rather a peaceful way of death; is his/her body and mind compatible regarding his/her action and are they interrelated; considering the functioning of the person's basic components such as the spiritual, sociological, psychological and biological components; and in Henderson's theory a patient is present as the summation of needs of the biophysical part of the patient's body plus the consideration of the patient rather as the patient and not the consumer nor the client. The second concept this theory is the environmental concept. This entails settings that enable one to learn unique living patterns; all the external conditions and influences that affect life and development; the way the individual relates to the family; how the patient together with his family are impacted on by the community; public and private agencies' support tasks, that is, the nurses are expected and wanted by the society to help and function for the individuals who are unable the act or function for themselves independently. In return, the nurse expects the society to make a contribution to the nursing education; and that provision of the required conditions that enable a patient to perform the fourteen activities unaided (Henderson, 1955).

The third concept concerns health. That is the definition that is based on the ability of the individual to in parallel function in comparison to the fourteen components; nurses have the duty to promote health, prevention and cure of diseases. Furthermore, is the individual capable of meeting these needs autonomously (Hesook & Kollak, 2005)? The last concept of Henderson's theory is nursing thus, offering temporary assistance to an individual who lacks the necessary strength, know-how, and the will to fully satisfy any of the fourteen basic activities; offer assistance and support to the individual who are unable to attain life independence and some of the basic life activities; the nurse is expected to carry out the doctor's therapeutic plan as a result of the nurse's creativity when planning for care; the nurse should have the ability to regarded a legal and independent practitioner who is able to make self-determining verdicts as long as she is not undertaking the diagnosis procedures, making a prescription for the patient's disease, coming up with a prognosis since the above are the functions of a physician; and a nurse is given the responsibility of assessing the needs of the patient, helping the patient in the pursuit of meeting individual's health needs and ensuring that the patient or the individual is in an environment that enable prevention or faster cure (Henderson, 1955).

Implication to nursing practice and its relevance today

Virginia Henderson's works have been used in the nursing education since it has provided clarity in the functions of the nurses. . Furthermore the principles presented in Henderson's theory in the major nursing publications embody fourteen characters that have proven to be still of significance to the present time in the evaluation of the nursing care. Some of the…[continue]

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