If someone asked you to define nursing, could you do it in a sentence or two? Would you know what to say? Here are a few ways nursing organizations and nursing leaders from the past have defined nursing.
In her 1859 “Notes on Nursing” Florence Nightingale described nursing as putting the patient in the best condition for nature to act upon him.
Orlando (1961) saw nursing as helping to meet patient needs through the development of nurse-patient relationships.
Virginia Henderson (1966) said nursing is assisting 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.
Martha Rogers (1970) described nursing as a humanistic science dedicated to compassionate concern for maintaining and promoting health, preventing illness, caring for and rehabilitating the sick and disabled using a holistic approach.
Orem (1971) defined nursing as facilitating man’s need for self-care and emphasizing the right and responsibility of the person to participate in the wellness process.
The International Council of Nursing (ICN) says nursing encompasses autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups and communities, sick or well and in all settings. Nursing includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people. Advocacy, promotion of a safe environment, research, participation in shaping health policy and in patient and health systems management, and education are also key nursing roles.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) states nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.
New York State defines the practice of the profession of nursing as a registered professional nurse as diagnosing and treating human responses to actual or potential health problems through such services as case finding, health teaching, health counseling, and provision of care supportive to or restorative of life and well-being, and executing medical regimens.
No matter what words you say, talk about nursing in a positive way. You never know what influence you may have on the person you are talking with. Who knows? They may be considering nursing as a career or they may know someone who might go into nursing.