Concepts & Theories of Nursing

‘Theory forces a view, at the expense of knowledge, and at the expense of creativity in practice’

(Kozial-McLain & Maeve 1993).

This essay is going to present arguments both for and against the above quote by analysis of the

available literature. The theory-practice gap is a well known phenomenon in nursing and its existence

had been acknowledged for many years. The disparity between theory and practice has exercised the

minds of reformers and policy makers since the time of Florence Nightingale (Baly 1986). Theory and

practice are powerful vehicles for socialization and transmission of cultural norms. Underlying the

theory-practice debate is the assumption that theory is and can be separated from practice, theory and

practice do not, however exist in splendid isolation (Rafferty et al 1996).The two are inseparable, their

development has historically been regarded as the domain primarily of nurse educators rather than the

concern of practitioners (Lathlean 1994).As the profession of nursing becomes increasingly complex,

nurses assume greater responsibilities in the areas of clinical practice, theory development, and the

advance of nursing science through research (Krouse & Holloran, 1992). A changing face of the

broader society drives change in nursing (Loveridge, 1991). Nagle and Mitchell (1994) believe that the

art of nursing is the way theoretical knowledge is lived in relationships with others. Whereas Koziol-

McLain and Maeve (1993) suggest that nursing theories are not already linked to philosophical

underpinnings and that theories are myopic and inadequate representations of reality.   Koziol-McLain

and Maeve (1993) suggest that practicing nurses should be wary of nursing theory. While recognizing

a role for theory in nursing, they stated that nursing theory is useful only when ‘used to describe and

when it entices us to want to know more’ but that theory in nursing is not useful when such theory is...