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Jean Watsons Nursing Theory

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Jean Watson

Nursing theory provides a framework to guide the practice of nursing (McEwen & Wills, 2014). The authors of this paper believe strongly in Jean Watson’s Caring Theory because caring is a critical element in nursing (Jean Watson, 2009). For Watson caring for others was a “moral idea” (Watson, 1988, p. 54). Her theory has shown to be applicable across various types of practice settings (Einstein Healthcare Network, n.d.). Nurses across various disciplines appreciate the value of caring and interpersonal relationships inherent in this theory (Einstein Healthcare Network, n.d.). A spirit of authentic presence, as well as intentionality which assists the patient to heal from within, has been embraced by this theory (Jean Watson's Theory of Human Caring, n.d.). Additionally, the theory of Human Caring is one of the few theories which benefits both the patient and the caregiver (Jean Watson's Theory of Human Caring, n.d.). This paper provides a brief history of the theorist, Jean Watson, an overview of the Theory of Human Caring, and applications of the theory.

Biography of Dr. Jean Watson

In 1940, Margaret Jean Harmon was born in West Virginia, (Petiprin, 2016). She was the youngest of eight children (Petiprin, 2016). Jean had planned to attend the university, but her plans were altered due to the death of her father (Watson, n.d.). In 1961, Jean attended the Lewis-Gale School of Nursing in Virginia (Jean Watson, n.d.). Her father’s death caused her to critique her nursing school; she realized it focused on a medical model ignoring the importance of caring (Watson, n.d.). As a novice nurse, she stated she wanted a deeper connection with her patients and to understand what was behind her patient’s suffering (Watson, n.d.). While in nursing school, Jean married Douglas Watson (Jean Watson, n.d.). After her marriage, she continued her education at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado (Jean Watson, n.d.). At the University of Colorado, Jean attained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) (Jean Watson, n.d.). Once having obtained her master's degree in nursing from the University of Colorado Medical Center in Denver, she then continued to earn a Ph D in educational psychology and counseling from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1973. (Jean Watson, n.d.). In 1977, Jean’s left eye was avulsed in a golfing accident (Watson, n.d.). Shortly after her accident, Jean’s husband died by suicide (Watson, n.d.). It was during her healing from the loss of an eye and her husband in which she developed the Theory of Caring (Petiprin, 2016).

Watson stated her theory was influenced by personal experience, her world view, her travels, and her educational experiences (Watson Caring Science Institute and International Caritas Consortium, 2013). Carl Rogers, Giorgio, Yalom, Peplau, Nightingale, Rogers, Roy, and Kierkegaard, were all primary inspirations of her theory (Watson, 1997; Watson, 1988). Additionally, Watson attributed her incorporation of cultural sensitivity and eastern mysticism to her international travels (Watson, 1997).

Currently, Watson is a professor and Dean Emerita at the University of Colorado in Denver Colorado and is Fellow American Academy of Nursing (AAN) (Watson, n.d.). Watson was the founder of the Center for Human Caring (Watson, n.d.). She has written over 30 books and numerous articles in her career (Watson, n.d.). Watson is the recipient of various awards and holds 10 honorary doctoral degrees (McEwen, & Wills, 2014). In 2013, the AAN gave Watson their highest honor, that of Living Legend (Watson, n.d.).

Watson: Grand Nursing Theorist

According to McEwen & Wills (2014), nursing theories can be classified based upon their level of abstraction. Metatheory is the most abstract type of theory, and it is and is “a theory about theory” (McEwen & Wills, 2014, p. 37). Grand theories, or macro-theories, are comprised of broad, abstract concepts and provide an overall framework by which to practice nursing (McEwen & Wills, 2014). Middle range theories are more concrete in nature and are more applicable to the scope of daily practice (McEwen & Wills, 2014). Based on these definitions of grand theorists, Watson is considered a grand theorist as her theory provides overarching concepts by which to practice (McEwen & Wills, 2014).

Metaparadigm Concepts

Watson’s four metaparadigms of nursing include person, environment, health, and nursing (McEwen & Wills, 2014). Jean Watson defines the four metaparadigms of nursing in her theory (McEwen & Wills, 2014). She describes the human being as “a valued person to be cared for, respected, nurtured, understood, and assisted” (McEwen & Wills, 2014, p. 185). Watson believes every individual is subjective and unique and cannot be treated as objects (Petiprin, 2016). She also feels a person functions as a whole, and the mind, body, and spirit should not be divided (Watson's Caring Theory, n.d.).

Watson believes that the environment plays a role in the nursing process. The environment affects both the nurse and the patient (Petiprin, 2016). Watson stresses the importance of establishing a patient’s environment that feels home-like (Wagner, 2010). Examples of this are controlling noise levels, offering warm blankets, adjusting the lighting, providing private rooms, helping with personal hygiene, etc. Providing a healing environment which is both physical and non-physical for patients creates space to generate their wholeness and healing (Wagner, 2010).

Jean Watson believes that health is more than caring for an illness. Health is viewed holistically and is structured around the mind, body, and soul (McEwen & Wills, 2014). Health is perceived by the patient and is influenced by their life experiences (Petiprin, 2016). According to Watson’s theory, it is also vital to stress illness prevention with total health (Petiprin, 2016).

Watson’s viewpoint on the metaparadigm of nursing is that it is essential that nurses and patients develop a relationship (Petiprin, 2016). Nursing is a providing caring, professional and thoughtful interactions while focusing on the person as a whole ("Watson's Caring Theory," n.d.). According to Jean Watson’s theory, nursing is a holistic practice which ensures nurses will provide care to patients physically, mentally and spiritually (Petiprin, 2016).

Major Concepts

Numerous concepts are formulated from Jean Watson’s Caring Theory (McEwen & Wills, 2014). Significant elements of Watson’s therapy include caractive factors, transpersonal caring relationship, and caring occasion/caring moments (Wagner, 2010). Watson’s theory consists of



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