Numerous nursing theories guide the field of healthcare within the nursing realm. It is the idea that by following structured programs, in this case that of a nursing theory, a health care provider will be more able to accurately serve its designated population. Nursing theories serve as a principle that nurses live by. In their chosen field or specialty, healthcare professionals experience an array of physical and psychological states in a patient, and being able to fully grasp the severity of the situation enables the nurse to become more able to manage patient health care in a more efficient manner (Alligood & Marriner-Torney, 2010). These nursing principles also serve as a guide for the nurse to be able to handle emotions within him or herself. Such is the theory of Health as Expanding Consciousness.
Margaret Newman established the nursing theory of health as expanding consciousness. This theory derived from the concern of those individual patients where chronic illness and severe disease had taken over. In cases where living a healthy life was not remotely possible, this theory helped to explain and guide the appropriate behavior that would aid in solving problems such as these (Newman, Smith, & Pharris, 2008). As situations began to arise where patients may have felt lost, hopeless, and uncertain about their disability or unresolved health problems, resignation eventually takes place. Patients give up when they feel that they have no control over what is occurring with their own bodies. Through this nursing theory however, the idea of illness being a detrimental factor is completely discredited. In fact, health, whether fair or poor, is seen as a way for an individual to expand their consciousness level (Picard & Jones, 2005). This means that individuals who experience illness or a disability need to learn to except that occurrence as being a part of learning and understanding oneself better. This nursing theory emphasizes that in acquiring illness and disease one is able to find a greater meaning and higher purpose for living (Newman, Smoth, & Pharris, 2008).
Health as expanding consciousness also emphasizes the need to reach out to other individuals who may be experiencing the same afflictions, or that may be more likely to have a supportive role in their lives. This theory has also been enhanced in order to encompass all forms of health and not just what the theory's roots were based on: severe and chronic illness (Alligood & Marriner-Tomey, 2010). Health, whether negative or positive, affects the way that one views the world, and the way that one experiences it. This theory enables for this concept to be understood and fully implemented. Health as an expanding consciousness also implies the necessity of nurses to follow through with these nursing theories for their own emotional development (Newman, Smith, & Pharris, 2008). Once health care providers see themselves through these theories, and are also aware that their state of health defines how they view the world, they are more able to appropriately allocate their resources for the best of the patient's interest.
Nursing theories define nursing practice. Unlike the health as expanding consciousness theoretical model, the humanistic nursing theory emphasizes the role of the nurse in the providing of health care. Zderad came up with the idea or the theory that a patient's care is dependent on the nurse's ability to not only relate to the patient that they are taking care of, but to also understand the patient's psychological and emotional position (McCamant, 2006). It is the person that is being afflicted by illness that becomes the main component in this theory, and not necessarily the ability to understand the illness itself.
Zderad recognized that to patients, nurses are the ones that are capable of providing them with relief and comfort. It was the nurse's own decision that led him or her to go into the art of healing and therefore, because the nurse is the one that made the conscious choice of partaking in the betterment of other individuals, the responsibility of providing the patients with comfort falls upon the nurse. The theory emphasizes that the patient and the nurse each have their versions of what it is like to be whole, that is, full of health and well (Alligood & Marriner-Tomey, 2010). From this perspective, the concept of unity is achieved. The nurse and the patient have a humanistic bond over the illness of the individuals and the nurse's ability to provide healing. The healing that the nurse provides is not just a job, but a dedicated choice that he or she has selected to go through with (McCamant, 2006). By experiencing interactions with patients on a consistent basis, the nurse is able to become more aware of him or herself.
Both of the theories aforementioned encompass plenty of similarities as well as differences. To begin with, Newman's health as expanding consciousness and Zderad's humanistic nursing theory both deal with the idea of the nurse and patient relationship (Duffy & Hoskins, 2003). By establishing an unfailing perspective from which to handle disease and disability, both patient and nurse are able to develop a stronger and more consistent bond with one another. Both of the theories mentioned encompass the expanding of one's understanding of the self. They also focus on understanding health and illness from a philosophical perspective in order to come to terms with the affliction (Alligood & Marriner-Tomey, 2010). The theories emphasize a growth in understanding how to more appropriately deal with ailing patients from a calm and reserved nature. The theories are both focused on the patient's perspective on accepting their own disease and coming to terms with it subconsciously. The biggest similarity between these two theories is their ability to bring focus to the psychological state of disease and not solely the physical implications.
Despite the expanding similarities that exist between the health as expanding consciousness theoretical model and the humanistic nursing theoretical perspective, there are clear differences between the two concepts. To begin with, the humanistic nursing perspective puts heavy emphasis on the nurse's psychological state, while the health as expanding consciousness model encompasses both, with a slightly skewed mark toward that of the patient's psychological understanding of their situation (Alligood & Marriner0Tomey, 2010). The humanistic nursing approach is about the health care provider's ability to come to terms with the reasoning behind their choice to go into nursing and with their ability to understand the health of their patients. This theory puts heavy importance on how the nurse handles his or her daily activities and interactions with patients. On the contrary, health as expanding consciousness emphasizes the role of both entities when it comes to healing (Picard & Jones, 2005). Both the nurse and the patient need to consciously understand that in order for psychological states to stay consistent and healthy, acceptance about the illness as being a part of their lives needs to be had. The latter theory also focuses on the patient's ability to incorporate their own understanding about their state of health, while the humanistic approach is clearly about the nurse's ability to do his or her job appropriately and effectively.
Both the health as expanding consciousness nursing theory and the humanistic nursing approach have similar philosophical roots. Health as expanding consciousness is modeled after the idea that everything that occurs in life occurs in order to provide individuals with a greater sense of self-awareness. All of one's actions are a part of who one is (Newman, Smith, & Pharris, 2008). Every single aspect that dictates how health is viewed is a reflection of one's understanding about the purpose of one's life. Health is a branch of who one is. It defines how things are done, how thoughts are processed, and how relationships are developed; therefore, health is an extension of the self. It defines how the world is perceived. The humanistic approach to nursing encompasses similar philosophical roots. This theoretical nursing model stresses the importance of being self-aware as well, but this time from the perspective of the individual providing the health (McCamant, 2006). If one comes to terms with the purpose for one's existence, then one is able to more fully accomplish the goals that have been set in life. Health is a source and a way to build one's consciousness and self-awareness, leading to a more philosophical and through understanding of health.
Though both the theory of health as expanding consciousness and humanistic approach to nursing can serve to explain why they are so important in the nursing field, there are other theories that encompass the same importance in nursing. One of these theories is the science of unitary human beings. This specific theoretical nursing model is quite similar to the nursing model of health as expanding consciousness. This model is also known as the Rogerian model, after Martha Rogers who came up with the theoretical implications that define this theoretical framework (Malinski, 2006). The unitary human is described as being one that is in touch with their surroundings. They are…