Nursing philosophy

Individual referred to every human being that needs assistance to regain his or her health and independence or to achieve a peaceful death. Individual was also a wholeness constructed by the biological, psychological, sociological, and spiritual components. Since mind and body were related and could not be separated, an individual would have biopsychosocial needs. Environment included all external factors that influenced one’s life and development, such as families and nursing care settings. Henderson considered health as an individual’s function to perform the 14 fundamental needs independently: breathing, eating and drinking, eliminating, moving, sleeping and resting, selecting suitable clothes, maintaining body temperature, keeping the body clean, avoiding dangers and injuries, communicating with others, worshipping according to one’s faith, working, playing and recreating, learning and continuing development. One’s ability to perform the needs was affected by age, cultural background, physical, intellectual capacities, as well as emotional balance. Nursing is temporary assistance provided to individuals who are ill or lacked the strength, will, and knowledge to accomplish the 14 fundamental needs. In order to aid the individual to obtain health and independence as soon as possible, nurses would follow the 14 components as their guidelines. Therefore, if a nurse’s practice was based on these unique concepts, he or she must be able to focus on supporting patients in life activities and the attainment of independence (Current, 2012).
Miss Henderson was born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 30, 1897, and she died March 19, 1996, at the age of 98. Her father, Daniel B. Henderson, was an attorney for Native American Indians. Her mother, Lucy Minor (Abbot) Henderson, came from the state of Virginia. Miss Henderson received her nursing diploma from the U.S. Army School of Nursing in 1921. She entered Teachers College at Columbia University to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in 1932, also finished her Master’s Degree two years later, and then she taught there until 1948. In 1953, she joined Yale University School of nursing as a research associate. During her time in Yale, she produced many major publications that had huge influence on modern nursing. In her later year, Miss Henderson was characterized by many honors, such as honorary doctorates from University of Western Ontario, University of Rochester, Rush University, Pace University, Catholic University of America, Yale University, Old Dominion University, Boston College, Thomas Jefferson University, etc. (McBride, 2015).
Miss Henderson’s theory was applied to organ donor management. From taking care of brain-dead potential organ donors to the procedure of transplantation was a very complicated process, so the 14 components revealed the essential elements for nurses carrying out excellent patient care and extend to the patient’s family, even to the recipients of donated organs. Bruce Nicely and Ginger DeLario elaborated each component very detail in nursing practice of this organ donation case. For example, Henderson’s first component was ‘normal breathing’, because brain-dead potential organ donors’ body systems were severely compromised, nurses needed to maintain adequate oxygenation for the patients to prevent organs damage. ‘Eating and drinking’ are the second component, because patients could not take nutrition voluntarily, nurses might give them fluid and electrolyte infusions, as well as blood product transfusion to maintain their organs function. Sometimes physicians and others thought these procedures were unnecessary and wasteful to a ‘hopeless’ patient, so nurses needed to remind them the care was also for the potential recipients of donated organs. Here is a beautiful statement that describes the nursing practice bases on Henderson’s theory, ‘The nurse who applies Henderson’s concepts throughout the donation process will contribute significantly to transferring the gift of life from one human being to one or more patients at the next phase of the donation process’ (Nicely & DeLario, 2011, p. 77).
Miss Henderson’s theory has been applied to nursing practice and the care of patients. Her 14 components of basic nursing care and her definition of nursing are used to prepare for the nursing process. Starting with health assessment, a nurse will ask a patient questions about his or her health history and then the nurse will perform physical and psychological assessment on him or her, all of the information that the nurse finds out from the patient can be categorized within Henderson’s 14 components. For example, the nurse knows the patient sleeps well and eats healthy, and he has bowel movement everyday. These information belong to the components: ‘Eating and drinking adequately’, ‘Eliminating body wastes’, and ‘Sleeping and resting’.
The second step of the nursing process is nursing diagnosis; here the nurse will analyze the data that collected from health assessment. Once the nurse identifies the health problems, he or she can go to the next step, preparing a care plan for the patient. The care plan’s goal is to improve the patient’s strength to perform the 14 fundamental needs independently. Bases on the patient’s needs, the nurse will plan specific interventions for him or her. The last step is evaluation. The nurse can check how many components the patient can perform without assistance. The nurse also can evaluate the quality of care bases on the definition of nursing. Therefore, the nurse can decide to continue, modify, or terminate the interventions. According to Henderson, the definition of nursing is:
The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will, or knowledge, and to do this in such a way as to help him gain independence as rapidly as possible (as cited in Blais & Hayes, 2011, p.100).
My philosophy of nursing is providing support to individuals in the moment of their life that they are struggling for physical or mental well-being. It is related to my chosen theory, because Miss Henderson’s concept of nursing is:
The nurse is temporarily the consciousness of the unconscious, the love of life of the suicidal, the leg of the amputee, the eyes of the newly blind, a means of locomotion for the newborn, knowledge and confidence for the young mother, a voice for those too weak to speak (as cited in Nicely & Delario, 2011, p. 72).
Therefore, in order to carry out all of these support to my patients, I believe the best way is to follow the 14 components, so I know my role as a nurse is to focus on supporting patients’ life activities and help them to attain independence. Ultimately, the patients will become biologically, psychologically, sociologically, and spiritually healthy because of nursing.

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