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Virginia Henderson

INTRODUCTION Virginia Henderson in the development of her personal concept of what nursing is looked at different schools of thought on the needs of human beings for functioning and considered all of the aspects that these schools of thought when she finally came to her conclusion of what nursing is. One can see aspects of physical, psychological and social needs in her work which gave a more holistic view of the patient and the practice of nursing in relation to patients. It is because of her revolutionary take on the profession she was heralded as a modern Florence Nightingale.

HENDERSON’S THEORY: AN ANALYSIS She is described as one of the needs theorists of nursing. Her theory was developed in relation the question what does a nurse do? Her perspective emphasizes the nurse’s role in complementing and supplementing individual needs to maintain and achieve independence. Nursing was therefore defined as The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to a peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge and to do this in such a way as to help him gain independence as rapidly as possible. One of the driving forces for the development of Henderson’s model was the recognition of nursing as a profession could only be brought about by defining a scientific body of knowledge a body of knowledge which would be unique to nursing. In doing this her efforts formulated a model that was patient centered and promoted the independence of nursing practice

From Henderson’s work one can gather that health was viewed in the context of independent functioning. Health would therefore be determined along a continuum of functioning. The nurse’s role would then be to help the patient carry out his/her function. The need for nursing intervention would increase as the ability to function in fulfilling basic needs decreases and thus would dictate the role the nurse assumes. The nurse can assume the role of substitute for the patient meaning that the nurse becomes a substitute for what the patient is usable to do thus making up for what the patient lacks in fulfilling basic needs. According to Henderson the nurse …is temporarily the consciousness of the unconscious, the love life of the suicidal, the leg of the amputee, the eyes of the newly blind a means of locomotion for the infant, knowledge and confidence for the young mother, the mouth piece for those too weak or withdrawn to speak and so on. In the role of helper to the patient the nurse helps to acquire or regain independence as the patient is a state of convalescence. As a partner with the patient the nurse in collaboration with the patient comes up with a plan of action to ensure the patient receives the best care tailored to the patient. What should be noted though is that these roles may not be taken up independently but may over lap as care is given to the patient. To be able to aid the patient the nurse must “be knowledgeable have some base for practising individualised and humane care and be a scientific problem solver. For this reason she emphasizes continued research and development of nursing education by those who enter the profession to ensure that there is wide base of knowledge to aid the client and maintain the status of the profession. The needs concept is based on the assumptions of human nature and needs though not expressly discussed or defined in depth but still developed from a standpoint of client centered care nursing

education and practice. One possible reason the she did not apply a definition to the term needs is because of the fact that need like independence is a term that is relative and cannot be completely generalised to cover all cultures and subcultures. The needs that she outlined are as follows
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Breathe normally. Eat and drink adequately. Eliminate body wastes. Move and maintain desirable postures. Sleep and rest. Select suitable clothes-dress and undress. Maintain body temperature within normal range by adjusting clothing and modifying environment

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Keep the body clean and well groomed and protect the integument Avoid dangers in the environment and avoid injuring others. Communicate with others in expressing emotions, needs, fears, or opinions. Worship according to one’s faith. Work in such a way that there is a sense of accomplishment. Play or participate in various forms of recreation. Learn, discover, or satisfy the curiosity that leads to normal development and health and use the available health facilities.

The first nine components are physiological. The tenth and fourteenth are psychological aspects of communicating and learning. The eleventh component is spiritual and moral. The twelfth and thirteenth components are sociologically oriented to occupation and recreation.

Virginia Henderson defines the person as an individual who requires assistance to achieve health and independence or peaceful death. The mind and body are inseparable. The patient and family are viewed as unit She defines environment as “the aggregate of all the external conditions and influences effecting the life and developments of an organism” therefore the environment directly impacts on the person ability to maintain and achieve independent which includes social factors.

Conceptual framework was intended to facilitate nursing practice and education and allowed for identification of potential issues and solutions by breaking down practice into stages and the actors who may or may not be involved in a given client situation. She established what was special important or essential to nursing and provided the rationale for the existence of the nursing profession. She attempted to identify the distinctive character of nursing and allows for it to be distinguished from the roles of other members of the healthcare team which would set the boundaries for practice especially for the student nurse.

BIBLIOGRAPHY EBSCOhost: Virginia Henderson's principles and practice of nursing applied to organ do.... (n.d.). EBSCO Publishing Service Selection Page. Retrieved April 13, 2013, from ZQ%3d%3d#db=c8h&AN=2010964102 Kim, H. S. (2006). Nursing theories conceptual & philosophical foundations (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Pub. Co. Risjord, M. W. (2010). Nursing knowledge: science, practice, and philosophy. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell Pub.. Tomey, A. (1994). Nursing theorists and their work (3rd ed.). St. Louis: Mosby. Virginia Henderson's Nursing Theory. (n.d.). nursing research articles, theories, reviews, education, administration, psychiatric nursing, MCQs. Retrieved April 13, 2013, from