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Definitions of Nursing Essay

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Updated: Jul 9th, 2021


Having a proper definition of a job is crucial because it allows identifying key traits of the profession and highlighting the aspects that future nurses should aspire to master through their education and personal development. Over the years, many variations of the definition of this job were offered by individuals, which reflects the transformations of responsibilities and tasks. This paper aims to review different descriptions of nursing and compare them to identify similarities.


Firstly, it is necessary to determine the approach to defining nursing that was used by Florence Nightingale as she is the most significant person that affected the development of this profession. Nightingale described the job as doing “all at the least expense of vital power to the patient” (as cited in Black, 2017, p. 115). This included assessing the environments and factors that contribute to one’s health, which is reflective of the modern approach to nursing.

Although the definition of the twentieth century accurately described the primary task that a nurse should do, it lacked the components such as a health assessment and an environment defined by Nightingale. According to Shaw, the focus was on the execution of orders and provision of food and other care for patients (as cited in Black, 2017). However, other authors did include factors such as mental health, comfort, prevention of illnesses, and the contribution of nurses to a person’s achievement of good physical health. Therefore, both Nightingale and twentieth-century health professionals understood the importance of different factors that enable proper health management.

The post-World War II period marked a change in the attitudes towards nursing because new technology and altered approaches to education signified the importance of the work that nurses do. Peplau developed the essential definition of that era because the author highlighted interpersonal relationships as a factor that contributes to one’s health (as cited in Black, 2017). The assistance is highlighted as the core value of the profession that enables patients to achieve their health-related goals. Rogers stated that nursing diagnosis and promotion of health are core values of the job (as cited in Black, 2017). This enables an understanding that in the post-war period nurses had more responsibilities when compared to other eras, based on the previously discussed definitions.

The modern definition of this profession is provided by the American Nurses Association (ANA). According to the establishment, prevention, minimization of suffering, and promotion of approaches that enable proper health are the core aspects (American Nurses Organization, 2015). When compared to other definitions, it can be concluded that modern nurses have more responsibilities that are reflected in diagnosing individuals, providing guidance, and caring for communities. Thus, the scope of work is more significant that it was, while the core value – providing care has remained.

Common Aspects

The definitions of nursing described above all focus on specific aspects that their authors considered crucial for the profession. However, through a thorough examination, one can conclude that all of them have a similar goal – ensuring that patients can be healthy. This is facilitated through different approaches, for instance, some focus on mental health others on medication or interpersonal interactions that help individuals understand ways to avoid diseases. Thus, one can conclude that these explanations of nursing highlight the various approaches through which a professional can assist his or her patients and help them improve their physical and mental health.


Overall, nursing has many definitions that reflect various components of work. It can be concluded that Florence Nightingale created the most accurate explanation for a nurse’s job because her words follow the modern approach to nursing. It highlights the importance of different factors that contribute to one’s health. Other authors described the profession using a different perspective; however, the general feature is the assistance to patients.


American Nurses Association. (2015). Code of ethics with interpretative statements. Silver Spring, MD: Author.

Black, B. P. (2017). Professional nursing: Concepts & challenges (8th ed.). Maryland Heights, MO: Elsevier.

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"Definitions of Nursing." IvyPanda, 9 July 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/definitions-of-nursing/.

1. IvyPanda. "Definitions of Nursing." July 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/definitions-of-nursing/.


IvyPanda. "Definitions of Nursing." July 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/definitions-of-nursing/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Definitions of Nursing." July 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/definitions-of-nursing/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Definitions of Nursing'. 9 July.

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