About the Nursing Process Theory

Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org

The Nursing Process was based on a theory developed by nurse Ida Jean Orlando. This theory delves into the purpose of nurses and their requirements in the medical field.

Theory Assumptions

The theory assumes that patients who cannot cope with their medical needs without assistance will become distressed and begin feeling helpless. At the base level, nursing can contribute to this distress. However, Orlando theorized that the nurse/patient relationship is one that is decided by both parties. The patients cannot appropriately convey their needs or fears without first establishing a close relationship with the nurse. As such, nurses exist to offer patients a motherly and nurturing presence to relieve distress.

The Role of the Nurse

This theory states that it is the expressed role of the nurse to find out what a patient's immediate needs for help are and fulfill them. Unfortunately, the patients will not always express their distress in a way that determines exactly what kind of help is needed. Therefore, it is the nurse's job to use insight, perception, and intuition to figure out what the patient's true needs are. This process of examining the patient's behavior and discovering its meaning assists nurses in finding out what a client really needs.

Major Dimensions

The nursing process theory dimensions can be summed up using some key terms. Distress is what a patient experiences when their needs have not been met. The Nursing Role is to learn what a patient's immediate needs are and meet them. Nursing Actions are direct or indirect approaches to providing for a patient's immediate need. An Outcome is a change in the patient's behavior that indicates either relief or an unmet need. Outcomes can be observed and interpreted in the patient both through verbal and non-verbal means.

Understanding Patient Needs

Before a nurse can take action, she must first recognize the present situation as a problematic one. In other words, the nurse must understand that the actions of the patient are communicating a plea for help, regardless of how they may appear. Eventually, these cues will become a stimulus for the nurse. Nurses who understand the theory will experience an automatic internal reaction to patient pleas and in turn exhibit behaviors that trigger a response of relief from the patient.

Interacting with a Patient

Nurses must understand that any observations shared and analyzed with a patient are relevant and useful then and there to determine whether or not the patient is in need of assistance. The nurse should also refrain from assuming that her actions and reactions are appropriate or helpful until the patient has confirmed as such. Additionally, she should fall into a pattern of exploring how a patient reacts to her actions. When the nurse stops identifying and deriving meaning from patient behaviors, the communication between nurse and patient immediately stops.

The nursing process theory is all about staying focused on the patient's needs. If you're studying to become a nurse, simply remember that the patient always comes before anything else.