Understanding Nursing Theory Essay

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Nursing Theory -- Roy Adaptation Model

The Roy Adaptation Model is one of the most commonly cited and used options when it comes to nursing theories. It has been in existence since 1976, and has had a number of years to be adjusted and changed to work with the adjustments that have occurred in the field of nursing over time (Alligood, 2011). Being able to adapt and change is a very important part of nursing, because all patients are different. Additionally, treatments and medications change rapidly, and that can be difficult to keep up with if a nurse is not focused on adapting his or her style and beliefs to the changing nature of medicine. Here, the importance of nursing theory will be explored, along with the key points that are used in the Roy Adaptation Model. The views and ideas that the model provides when it comes to nursing leadership will be addressed, too, because nurses must often work as leaders and make quick decisions that can affect their patients and other members of the medical team.

The Importance of Nursing Theory

There is great value in nursing theory in general, and that is the case no matter what theory is being explored or addressed. Each nurse is different, and each one has thoughts and feelings on how nursing should be handled. Additionally, each one has beliefs as to what can and should be done when caring for patients and handling other nursing-related activities. While nurses have to work within the context of what is required by their employers, and they clearly have to follow specific guidelines in order to keep patients safe and properly cared for, the individual nurse may have a number of coping techniques that he or she uses in order to make sure both mental and physical health are maintained (Polit & Beck, 2013; Roy, 2011a). Burnout is common among nurses, but there are ways in which it can be avoided. One of these is by finding the nursing theory that resonates with that nurse most closely, and then embracing that theory and making it a part of life (Alligood, 2011).

When a nurse does that, he or she can use that theory in order to be more successful, and also in order to be more careful about how he or she feels about the work being performed. When a theory resonates with a particular nurse, that nurse will follow the theory and be more focused on the benefits that theory provides. Many nursing theories are adapted and adopted by entire groups of nurses in a medical facility, but this is not the case all the time. In some facilities, nurses are very different regarding what they feel comfortable with and what kinds of theories they believe in (Yan, Yan, & Qian, 2011). Each nurse must locate a theory to which he or she subscribes, and a theory that works properly for him or her. Once that has been done, the nurse can use that theory to move forward with his or her career, and can also focus on ways to avoid getting burned out or struggling with the mental and emotional health aspects of the job and the changes and pressures that are faced. The Roy Adaptation Model is among the most popular theories for nurses, because of its flexibility.

Key Points of the Roy Adaptation Model

There are several key points that can and should be addressed in the Roy Adaptation Model. These include:

The four concepts that make up the model: person, environment, health, and nursing.

The six-step process used by those who work through the model: assessment of behavior, assessment of stimuli, goal setting, nursing diagnosis, evaluation, and intervention.

The three basic concepts that come with the model: adaptation, nursing, and the human being.

The three types of stimuli: contextual, residual, and focal.

The four modes of adaptation: self-concept, physiologic, role function, and interdependence (Roy, 2011b).

The model sees a person as a very complex being, which is why there are so many parts and steps that can and should be considered. People are whole beings, and they are more than just the sum of their parts. They are adaptive, and yet they are very resistant to change in a number of ways. Because that creates a dichotomy within them, they can struggle with moving through life and career, especially when stressors are placed on them (Polit & Beck, 2013). There are few professions that are as consistently stressful as nursing, so nurses have to find ways to adjust and adapt to what they are experiencing and going through. The Roy Adaptation Model allows for that, because it helps nurses look inward and discover who they are (Roy, 2011a). The more they understand about who they are and how they respond to various stimuli, the more they are able to make corrections that help them minimize stress and still get as much done as possible (Alligood, 2011; Polit & Beck, 2013). Coping skills are very important, and each person copes differently. Understanding how to cope can be far more important than the exact technique that is used.

Interaction with the environment is continual, so the adaptation must also be continual (Yan, Yan, & Qian, 2011). That can help a nurse recognize that he or she is able to adapt, and that there are many ways to do so. The theory does not focus on specifically how a person has to adapt, since there are numerous effective ways in which that can be done. Telling a person how to adapt to something is not as effective as ensuring them that they can adapt to something -- and then allowing them to find the best way to do that. Because of the differences inherent in human beings, the way one person adapts may be completely different from the way another person adapts, but both adaptations may be completely valid and helpful (Roy, 2011b). By exercising different modes of adaptation, a nurse is able to find what works in both stressful and non-stressful situations, so that the nurse can continue to care for patients properly. When a nurse experiences burnout it hurts the nurse, but also hurts the patients under his or her care (Alligood, 2011).

Views and Ideas on Nursing Leadership

The Roy Adaptation Model is often used as a guide to assess families, but that can be easily modified to show how it relates to nursing leadership. Each of the four adaptation modes (self-concept, physiologic, role function, and interdependence) are looked at, and questions are asked that allow the nurse to consider how he or she adapts to particular issues (Polit & Beck, 2013; Yan, Yan, & Qian, 2011). Meeting the needs of others in the "family," such as other medical professionals with whom the nurse closely works, is one of the most important ways to adapt and ensure that patients are cared for properly (Roy, 2011a). Nurses make great leaders, because they have to make decisions and they must work very independently in many cases (Polit & Beck, 2013). Some are more natural leaders than others, but all of them can perform well from a leadership standpoint if they follow the Roy Adaptation Model and consider the answers to the questions being posed by it.

The roles that are assumed by the nurses as members of the medical team, and the ways in which all the members of that team must work together in order to ensure patient care and quality, are important aspects of the model. Asking oneself the tough questions about those kinds of issues is very important, because it helps the nurse establish how he or she can make adjustments in order to improve the team (Roy, 2011b). While self-care is vital, so is care of the patients and of the medical team. When all of those areas come together and the nurse makes sure that they are all deemed important, there is a balance that can be worked toward (Roy, 2011b). For example, this could be seen in a busy facility, where patient care is lost when nurses do not work with the rest of the team and do not consult on the choices they are making. Additionally, the nurse is an important part of the medical team, and should be given the same courtesy of others. An example of this would be seen with a nurse who receives poor treatment from other members of the medical staff. This can be demoralizing, and can also cause the nurse to care less about his or her job and/or to make more errors.


There are a number of models that are used in nursing, and a great many theories that are also very important to the field. By examining them and paying close attention to what they offer, nurses are better able to care for themselves, their medical teams, and their patients. That keeps the mental and physical health of everyone involved strong, and can provide the best…[continue]

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