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Nursing Theories: Concept Comparison and Analysis Across Theories


Nursing theories represent concepts and models that guide the nursing practice. The field of nursing has numerous theorists. Most of them attempt to advance and promote comprehensive care for the patients. Classical theories laid the foundation for contemporary theories and models. However, there has been a shift in theoretical framework that guides modern nursing practice. Such theorists as Florence Nightingale have been pivotal in converging different aspects of the nursing practice. This paper seeks to compare Rosemary Parse’s theory of human becoming with Jean Watson’s model of Science and Philosophy of caring. The rationale is that the two theories share a number of concepts although they vary at some extend. In addition, they represent contemporary nursing theories.

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Comparison of the theories

Human becoming theory shares numerous concepts with the theory of science and philosophy of caring. Its major proponent articulates that the theory considers human beings in totality and appreciates that many factors influence people (Taylor & Lillis, 2001). Some of these factors include biological, psychological and emotional aspects of a person. Besides, the theory proposes that human being is a unitary being that continuously interacts with the environment. Parse shifts from the initial theory referred to as Man-Living Health theory that highlighted the importance of environment on individuals (Julia, 2003).

Similarly, Watson articulates that caring is a process that considers many factors that influence human health. Indeed, it involves taking a humanistic approach towards patients and serving them in a humane way. As such, Watson’s model emphasizes on caring for patients through demonstration. In other words, theory asserts that the aspect of caring is the focal point of nursing whereby the nurses ought to identify curative factors and appreciate that caring in itself promotes growth. Besides, nurses should provide a caring environment that accepts people regardless of their race, gender, nationality and ethnic belonging (Julia, 2003). This involves the nurses’ ability to cultivate trust, hope and faith in the patient. The patients therefore feel assisted in an appropriate way and are inclined to cooperate throughout the process. As such, caring ought to take precedence in the nursing practice because it promotes preventive care and reduces curative care. In addition, it increases satisfaction among the nurses and the patients.

On the one hand, the conceptual model of human becoming theory considers various principles that guide the definition of nursing practice. The principle of meaning explicates that the reality of human being is shaped by experiences. As such, man interacts with the environment through a symbiotic relation. Both stand to gain from meaningful interaction since such experiences are fundamental in shaping the society and making future decisions. Parse’s propositions therefore consider that man and environment communicate between each other in a complex and intricate way (Barnum, 1998). Consequently, meaning emanates from the interaction of the two. Man and the environment produce images, values and language, and Parse refers to it as ‘rhythmicity’. Parse’s theory therefore assists the nurses to gain an understanding of their patients from all perspectives.

Another central principle of this the theory is co-transcendence. It refers to the ability of the nurses to reach out to patients and go beyond their initial standpoints. As such, the nature of nursing practice should entail transformation and flexibility in search for factors that may have led to ailments of patients. In this line, Parse explicates that a person is a dynamic and open being who differs from the rest of human beings. It is through environment that they experience and acquire knowledge. According to Parse, environment refers to everything that makes up a human being, as well as his/her experiences. In addition to their intricacies with human beings, environment complements the lives of human beings and they cannot be separated (Alligood & Tomey, 2002).

By understanding the concepts, Parse believes that health is a process that ought to focus on the ‘being’ and combine human values to yield meaning. As such, nursing practice should replicate human sciences through provision of skills that uses abstraction of knowledge to provide care and serve men. Therefore, the nature of nursing practice should be based on the ability of a nurse to exercise their art through deducing abstract information about their patients. The environment ought to facilitate the nursing practitioners.

Science and Philosophy of caring: Application in Nursing

Also known as the theory of caring, it considers factors that affect the process of providing care to patients and is applicable to therapeutic relationships with patients. Therapeutic relationships in the context of a hospital have become common since they accelerate the healing process of patients and their principles resemble Watson’s theory of nursing. The theory of science and philosophy of caring considers caring factors that act as the guidelines and the conceptual model of the practice of nursing. In creating a caring environment, nurses must be aware of the fact that they serve human beings and as such, they should be able to take a humanistic approach to their practice. Besides, they should comprehend the value system of the patients and other variables that influence the lives of the patients (Will & McEwen, 2002). Additionally, Watson says that nurses should instill a sense of faith and hope in patients. This important factor enhances the process of healing and is central to therapeutic relationship with patients.

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Unlike the theory of human becoming, Watson’s theory articulates that cultivation of sensitivity amongst the nurses and the patients is important for positive outcomes (Taylor & Lillis, 2001). This entails establishing a rapport with the patients helping them during therapy. In this way, the nurses are able to enhance trust that is critical for the healing process of the patient (Julia, 2003). It is also important for the nurses to ensure that the patients are able to express their feelings without fear. This does not only allow the nurse to understand the value systems and culture of the patient but also gives the patient a chance to understand the context of the caregiver. This is important during therapeutic relationships with patients.

Watson also explicates that the process of caring ought to be guided by the ability of caregivers to make important decisions by displaying problem solving skills (Taylor & Lillis, 2001). This allows the establishment of an environment that enhances teaching and learning that are crucial to healing process that reflects therapeutic relationships (Julia, 2003). The nurses also should be able to develop supportive contexts in which the patient feels appreciated and empowered. This goes a long way in fulfilling and gratifying humanistic needs of the patient in addition to enhancing the job satisfaction of the nurses.

Science and philosophy of caring theory is entrenched in a conceptual model similar to the theory of human becoming. They define a person as a being that interacts with the environment to gain experience. While Parse perceives the environment as inclusive of human beings, Watson considers the sole society as the environment (Will & McEwen, 2002). Nonetheless, the theory of science and philosophy of caring is applicable in the contemporary nursing practice unlike the theory of human becoming. The rationale is that the nurses can use the theory to facilitate them in establishing therapeutic relationship with patients. Taylor & Lillis (2001) affirms that this type of therapy involves assuming a humanistic approach towards enhancing the health of patients. It also involves understanding the factors that may influence the process of healing. Besides, it has become popular amongst many health care providers.


In conclusion, Parse’s theory compares substantially with Watson’s model of caring. They focus on the importance of the patient in nursing practice. The human becoming theory proposes that environment shapes ways in which caregivers and patients decipher the actual meanings of various situations. The process of nursing involves deriving meaning from environment to facilitate the comprehension of appropriate care to the patient. Indeed, the theory defines nursing practice as a science that uses specific art to provide service to man. Watson’s model of caring considers the factors that influence the provision of care. The theory proposes that nurses should utilize their skills and provide care to the patients. They should provide a supportive and caring environment in their therapeutic relationship with patients. It also entails putting the interests of the patients at the centre of practice. This is important in nursing practice as it enhances establishment of therapeutic relationships with patients.


Alligood, M. & Tomey, A. (2002). Nursing theory utilization and application. Philadelphia: Mosby Publishers.

Barnum, B. (1998). Nursing Theory: Analysis, Application, and Evaluation. Philadelphia, Lippincott: Williams and Wilkins.

Julia, B. (2003). Nursing Theories: The base for professional Nursing Practice. Norwalk: Appleton and Lange Press.

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Taylor, C. & Lillis, C. (2001).The Art and Science of Nursing Care. Irwin, New York: McGraw Hill Publishers.

Will, M. & McEwen, M. (2002). Theoretical Basis for Nursing Philadelphia. Philadelphia, Lippincott: Williams and Wilkins.

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