Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring was introduced in 1979 and premises on the humanistic perspective of nursing and health care combined with scientific knowledge. The design of the theory focuses on the concept of nursing that is associated with a health profession.
According to the theorist, caring should enhance and form the identity of health care professionals and, therefore, medicine focuses on the concept of caring. Specifically, nurses should perceive patients as a personality whose major purpose relates to establishing interpersonal relationships with patients through displaying unconditional care and acceptance. At this point, caring contributes to promoting individual growth and health.
Definitions of the Human Caring Concept
At the middle of nineteenth century, Florence Nightingale introduced nurse caring patterns of behavior as “…deliberate, holistic actions aimed at creating and maintaining an environment meant to support the natural process of healing” (Nightingale, 1859, as cited in Sitzman, 2007, p. 8).
In the late 70s of the past century, Jean Watsons aimed to develop a common concept for the science of nursing that could be practiced in all settings. Watson suggested that health care professionals should have a strong sense of belonging and interconnectedness of all individuals and share common goal of supporting patients.
Nurses should also be committed to science of healing from philosophical and scientific perspectives. At this point, Sitzman (2006) has singled out several important aspects of Watson’s theory that involve practicing kindness in terms of intentional caring consciousness, awareness of subjective life of individuals, cultivating individual’s spirituality and background, and engaging in teaching-learning experiences that premise on interconnectedness.
Similar to Sitman (2007), Cara (2003) also examines the concept of caring as a pivotal factor in nursing profession and defines its major characteristics through carative factors that consider humanistic perspectives of nursing professional, as well as subjective experience combined with inner life world. Additionally, carative factors refer to altruistic systems of faith, value, and hope in which nurses should be sensitive to individuals and develop trustful relationships with patients.
The role of nurses is confined to expressing positive regard and practice creative decision making during the caring process. Watson & Foster (2003) explores the Human Theory of Caring as an integral part of other theoretical and practical domains.
The dramatic changes to care delivery services go beyond the healthcare system predetermined by information technology, acute illness treatment and diagnosis, and product line control. The shifting patterns in caring integrate emphasis on healing and support of patients being represented as individuals with deep psychological, social, and cultural backgrounds.
Uses and Attributes of Watson’s Caring Model
The new approaches to health care and nursing as a profession introduce new teaching-learning perspectives. Embedding theory into practice is the major method within which students should incorporate knowledge on nursing and care.
At this point, Wade and Kasper (2006) have developed their Nursing Students’ Perception of Instructor Caring Instrument that involves a two-phase system. The first phase defines the concept of nursing students’ attitude to instructors’ caring, as well as develops and reviews the scale items for clarity and appropriateness. The second phase is the actual process of practicing the instrument.
Apart from educational applications, Watson’s caring model can be applied to deal with multicultural environments. In this respect, Suliman et al. (2009) asserts that Watson’s concept of caring is a universal phenomenon that could be applied to patients irrespective to their cultural background. At the same time, the model considers it important to pay attention to the cultural diversity as one of factors that nurses should premise their caring.
The relevance of Watson’s theory consists in developing the idea of caring as an inherent component of human being. Thus, health care should not premise on conventional approach to treatment that is dictated in textbooks; rather, nurses should be deeply concerned with the feelings and experiences that their patient undergoes during therapeutic interventions and examinations.
Presenting Organizational Definition and Vision Statement
According to the mission of the organization, both nurses and patients adhere to humanistic perspective of interaction and communication. Our workplace environment adopts collaborative approach to deal with productivity, performance, and overall ethical code. In particular, all nurses should be able to construct a health workplace in which nurses exchange their information and share their experiences in looking after the patients with various social and cultural backgrounds.
Theoretical definition premises on the ideas of implementing philosophical, theoretical, and empirical knowledge, as well as on the principles of collaborative and transparent interaction among nurses, which foster accurate information flow within an organization.
The main responsibilities of nurses include constant interaction with their patients as individuals that need a unique genuine approach to treatment and communication. Additionally, nurses should be environmentally and technologically savvy to be able to understand the external factors that can influence their patients.
Hence, their perception should go beyond the hospital facilities. Although the caring model calls for sensitivity, compassion, and support, inability to collaborate in a team can still lead to misunderstanding because of lack of communication and appreciation of each member of the team. Therefore, this aspect constitutes a serious barrier to treating patients.
Mellissa is a registered nurse who has been working for 4 years in the hospital. Although the hospital has high level of turnover, she remains loyal to her duty to take care of the patients. One of her clients – Jamie, a 38-year-old woman, divorced, who managed to overcome breast cancer and now she is on rehabilitation. Jamie has two children, an 11-year-old Andy and 15-year old Martin who regularly visit his mother.
She is in good relationships with her former husband Jeffrey who visits her once a week with his new family. Although Mellissa’s patient does not suffer from lack of attention, she is still frustrated and discouraged because of her continuous struggle with the disease. She is afraid of being a burden for her children, and she believes that her life is over. Most of her concerns relate to her appearance; she lost weight and looks pale; she does not have hair because of chemotherapy.
To change the situation, Mellissa decides to engage Jamie into a new activity that can help her fulfill herself in life. In past life, she was fond of hand-made souvenirs, such as photo frames, wooden boxes, and appliqués. This hobby permitted Jamie to express her individuality and self, as well as presented these times with those people whom she cared for.
Therefore, Mellissa decided to go to the shop and buy all necessary materials to make souvenirs. Jamie was very excited when she all ribbons, beads, and colored paper and she started immediately composing new items for her relatives. The nurses also advised with the manager of nursing department about her decision and Mrs. Brown replied positively.
The above-presented case demonstrates how deeper understanding of patient’s background and self can contribute to the positive consequences of rehabilitation period. Mellissa approaches the patient holistically to understand the reasons of her depressive psychological state. So, the results of the rehabilitation period were incredible.
Redefining the Organizational Mission and Vision Statement
The point is that Watson’s model focuses primarily on interaction between nurses and patients through cognizing their internal world. With regard to the above-presented theoretical perspectives, our workplace environment should adopt a combined version of both theoretical frameworks to create a rich organizational culture and increase performance and productivity of nurses.
More importantly, it also contributes to the culture of retention and develops new conditions for recruitment. Under these circumstances, it is possible to develop a comprehensive holistic model that can allow nurses and nurse students to conceive the basics of contemporary science of medicine and healthcare.
Jean Watson’s universal concept of caring encompasses wider aspects of nursing, support, and treatment. It entails a number of philosophical and psychological principles, such individual-centered approach to a patient, nurses’ focus on clients’ needs, assessment of patients’ background, and application of knowledge and expertise to a healthcare environment. Additionally, caring is based on a health perspective rather than on treatment approaches.
Therefore, curing should be a part of caring, but not vice versa. Using this model as a basis for a new framework, the new system of care has been developed and combined with collaborative approach to treatment. Specifically, this model focuses on successful methods of communication and transparent exchange of information, which contributes to sharing common goals and experience.
Cara, C. (2003). A pragmatic view of Jean Watson’s caring theory. International Journal For Human Caring, 7(3), 51-61.
Sitzman, K. (2007). Teaching-learning professional caring based on Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring. International Journal for Human Caring, 11(4), 8-16.
Suliman, W. A., Welmann, E., Omer, T., & Thomas, L. (2009). Applying Watson’s Nursing Theory to Assess Patient Perceptions of Being Cared for in a Multicultural Environment. Journal Of Nursing Research (Taiwan Nurses Association), 17(4), 293-300.
Wade, G., & Kasper, N. (2006). Nursing students’ perceptions of instructor caring: an instrument based on Watson’s theory of transpersonal caring. Journal of Nursing Education, 45(5), 162-168.
Watson, J., & Foster, R. (2003). The Attending Nurse Caring Model: integrating theory, evidence and advanced caring–healing therapeutics for transforming professional practice. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 12(3), 360-365.