Health care systems in the world constantly undergo major administrative restructuring. As a result, the systems expose people to the risks that dehumanize patient care. Considering caring to be principal for nursing, nurses must strive to make conscious efforts to preserve human caring within the administrative, clinical, research, or educational practice. Changes in health care delivery and in the world have intensified the responsibilities and workloads for nurses. Nurses now deal with the rise in patient acuity and complexity regarding health care issues (Sitzman and Watson, 2014). Despite the hardships, nurses still find ways to maintain the caring theory by Jean Watson as indispensable to their goal. Watson in her human caring theory and caring science blends humanities and sciences. The philosophy of science and caring examine the relatedness of human science, human caring processes, phenomena, and experiences (Watson, 2008).
Main Ideas of the Theory
According to Jean Watson, three main concepts comprise her theory. They include the Carative Caritas/Factor Process, the development, and utilization of the transpersonal caring, and the caring event or occasion. The Carative factors are Watson’s views that serve as a guide to core nursing. Watson uses the word Carative that contrasts with curative factors of conventional medicine. She attempts to honor the inner life world, social dimensions of nursing works, and people’s subjective experiences. The concept includes a humanistic-altruistic value system that entails sensitivity to others and self. Nurses are to help and be trusting in having a personal care relationship. Watson introduced a clinical Caritas process that replaces the carative factors. With the new process, she made a greater spiritual dimension of practicing love, kindness, and equanimity in the context of caring awareness. The idea was in creating a healing environment on both physical and non-physical levels of energy and consciousness (Persky, Nelson, Watson, & Bent, 2008). Additionally, nurses are to assist with basic needs to have an intentional caring consciousness, while administering the essentials of patient care.
The theory of transpersonal caring relationship describes a unique patient care relationship. Through moral commitments, nurses enhance and protect human dignity and the self. Also, the consciousness and connection of nurses are considered as they have the potential to heal because experience, intentional contact, and perception are always in place. These relationships characterize how nurses go beyond an objective assessment to show concern on the person’s subjective. It is a deeper meaning and regard to the health care situation (Sitzman & Eichelberger, 2011). The approach highlights the uniqueness of both the nurse and the person and the mutuality between the two persons fundamental to their relationship. As such, the cared-for and the caring both connect in a mutual search for wholeness and meaning and maybe for spiritual transcendence of their suffering. Transpersonal goes beyond the ego, allowing a person to reach a deeper spiritual connection when promoting a patient’s comfort leading to healing (Nelson & Watson, 2012).
The idea of the caring moment is the occasion the nurse and an individual come together in a manner that there is the creation of a human caring event. Both persons with their distinctive phenomenal fields have the possibility of coming together in a human transaction. A phenomenal field corresponds to an individual’s frame of reference or personal experience depending on one’s history, present moments, and imagined future.
Origins of the Theory
The theory is one of the newest theories in today’s nursing, having been released in 1979. Professional nursing has had some intellectual confusion in nursing on which it continues to operate. Additionally, there have been conceptual inconsistencies among and between some of the nursing dimensions. Nursing ideas are frequently trapped by the application of rigid techniques and testability for acceptance and verification. This led to Watson’s motivation to write as nurses were sometimes inconsistent in the practice that was a social science. Watson drew and cited parts of the theory from Florence Nightingale as well as philosophers and psychologists to support her theory. She used research tradition as general assumptions on processes and entities in the domain of study and appropriate methods for investing problems and constructing theories (Persky et al., 2008).
The usefulness of the Theory
Caring science embraces inquiries that are subjective, reflective, and interactive. The science and objective-empirical inquiries include philosophical, ontological, historical, and ethical studies. The theory is practical and helpful as caring science includes numerous epistemological approaches that are empirical and clinical, but open to a new inquiry that explores other information, for example, moral-ethical knowing. It contributes to predicting and understanding outcomes as it emphasizes nursing humanistic aspects as they interlink with nursing practice and scientific knowledge. The caring science incorporates some spiritual dimensions in the nursing practice. It is the interaction that promotes love and caring as cosmic forces providing energy that affect patient healing and development. The theory was to encompass nurse/patient interactions and go beyond the objective assessment and develop essential caring relationships (Watson, 2008). Watson uses the science discovery-pursuit method, which views science as a continuous, unfinished, and ongoing process. An example where this theory applies is in Rico Sandoval case study where, as Watson points out, nursing methods have the same steps as the scientific research process.
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Minimal research has been undertaken that can adequately test this nursing theory. However, a study was done to contribute to theory-testing by starting with Watson’s theory of social care. An analysis of the theory identifies concepts and propositions that make up the theory and evaluations, which include internal consistency, significance, empirical adequacy, and testability. Propositions were made on the need to further improve Watson’s work (Nelson & Watson, 2012).
Jean Watson exemplifies the development of a nursing theory that is useful in solving empirical and conceptual problems found in nursing and social science. The theory is comprehensive as Watson’s views present a hope that other individuals may view the phenomena in a different and new perspective in order to probably develop a new starting point. It is a new lens for focusing on human behavior in illness and health. Ideas in the theory are about the ways how the nursing serves and connects with people. In turn, it advances society’s knowledge of social conditions and nursing contributions to the community’s welfare (Sitzman & Eichelberger, 2011).
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Strengths and Weaknesses of the Theory
The strength of Watson’s theory is its contribution to the development of new discoveries on professional social caring and relationships to serve society. The theory has some weaknesses that include weak theoretical and empirical linkages. The theory is a grouping of imaginative knowledge, experiences, and ideas that symbolically represent and seek to illuminate a particular phenomenon (Sitzman & Watson, 2014). One can use this theory in advanced practice as it moves nursing beyond rigid operations, verification, objectivism, and definitions. It is concerned with relationships, meanings, patterns, and context. Watson’s theory has changed nursing in terms of motivating to pursue new insights and hidden truths.