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Nursing Theories
Helpful Art of Nursing - Nursing Theory

The helpful art of nursing has evolved over the years. It maintains its main goal of assisting people who have needs in terms of coping with limited capabilities. There are times when people may require assistance just to achieve an acceptable level of health and independence.

Through studying all the aspects of nursing, Ernestine Wiedenbach was able to develop her own theory based on this principle of assisting and helping others. She calls it the 'Helpful Art of Nursing Theory'. It has had a truly big influence in the field of nursing and its practices.

She believes that nursing is an art-form, and is not made up of rational or reactionary actions, but is made up of 'deliberate' actions.

Her accomplishments span five decades of experience. She is well known for her influence on family-centered maternity care, childbirth education, nursing theory, and nurse-midwifery education. She is seen as a pioneer and main contributor to nursing in building foundation on which to develop the philosophy and the goals concerning nurse-midwifery practices and education.

In her nursing theory it is believed that nursing is actually the practice of identifying the patient's need of help through several means, which are:

  • Observation of Symptoms & Presenting Behaviors

  • Exploration of What Those Symptoms Mean with Patients

  • Determining Causes of Discomfort

  • Determining a Patient's Ability to Resolve Discomforting Issues, or if the Patient Requires Assistance From Healthcare Professionals

  • Nursing Mainly Consists of an Accurate Identification of the Patient's Need of Help.


  1. The Central Purpose of the Nurse in Nursing, is to Possess a Sincere Professional Commitment. The Nurse's goals must be Grounded in their Philosophy. Their philosophy should consist of:
    • A Reverence For Life

    • A Respect for the Autonomy, Worth, and Dignity of each individual

    • A Resolve to act in a Dynamic Fashion in Response to one's Beliefs

  2. The prescription is to be indicative of the broad coarse of action that each nurse deems as appropriate for the fulfillment of their main purpose. A nurse will have thoroughly considered what type of results are to be sought out, and will then take the proper actions for obtaining those results, and accept the accountability for every action taken, and for the outcomes of those actions.

  3. The realities reflect the immediate aspects of each nursing situation, that will have an influence on what the results will be that the nurse achieves by her actions within a given situation. Within these situations there are various components:
    • Agent - The nurse who supplies the nursing action

    • Recipient - Patient who receives the nursing action

    • Framework - The situational factors affecting a nurse's ability to reach the desired nursing results

    • Goal - The end result desired from the nursing activity

    • Means - Devices and actions used by the nurse for reaching the desired goal

The Application of Nursing Theory

In practice, Ernestine Wiedenbach had years of experience working as a midwife. This enabled her to contribute to the areas of labor and delivery through her article on the subject called 'Childbirth as Mothers Say They Like It'. She was a staunch believer in patient care.

The application of her nursing theory also provides a solid foundation for the assessing of, and the explaining of, a patient's condition. She was able to influence many of the core concepts of nursing today, like self-care deficits, nursing processes, nursing assessments, and nursing diagnosis.

She was a huge believer in education. She viewed education as serving the practice of nursing mainly in 4 crucial ways, which are:

  1. Education is responsible for preparing future nurse practitioners.

  2. It enables nursing students to gain valuable experience working in clinical areas of hospitals and/or in the homes of patients.

  3. Education provides representatives who are able to function within clinical areas and work closely alongside staff.

  4. It offers invaluable educational opportunities for nurses to engage in advanced or special studies.

Ernestine's art of nursing was made up of 4 crucial elements which are philosophy, purpose, practice, and art. Within the element of art were 4 sub-elements-

  1. A nurse's understanding of a patient's condition, needs, and situation.

  2. A nurse's external actions and internal goals which are meant for enhancing a patient's capability via the appropriate nursing care.

  3. A nurse's activities aimed toward improvement of a patient's condition via artful utilization of a medical plan for care.

  4. A nurse's interventions bent toward a preventing of a recurrence of the current concerns, or the development of any new concerns.

By defining key terms she was able to further her vision of nursing in a more global sense. She defined commonly used terms for referring to nursing practice. The definitions, in and of themselves, don't fully define this entire profession, however, most nurses use global terms all the time like 'helping', 'patient', 'nursing action', or 'knowledge', for describing what it is they do. By specifically defining each term within the context of her nursing theory, she managed to bring clarity and power into her work, and set the stage for debate and productive exploration.

She was able to see how easily words could be misunderstood. Words are powerful tools for communicating, and their meaning in regard to knowing what things mean between two parties working together on a project, is crucial. Both parties need to be on the same page in regard to what they are talking about. So specific words and phrases, when defined in specific ways, can more easily be understood in the context of the nursing profession and in the practice of care.

Here are some examples of terms and phrases that have been clarified within the nursing profession by the nursing theory:


This is defined as being any person entered into the healthcare system, who is currently receiving some type of help, whether it is teaching, advice, or care. They do not have to be ill (a person receiving some health-related education would also qualify as being a patient).

Need for Help

This has been defined at being any measure the patient desires, that carries the potential to extend or restore their ability to cope with certain life situations that may affect their overall health and well-being.

Judgment (clinical)

This represents a nurse's likelihood of making sound decisions. A sound decision is based on different facts taken from assumption, and then relating them to a cause and effect. The result is sound judgment coming from a disciplined functioning of the mind and the emotions, and that improves with the expansion of knowledge and an increased clarity of purpose in a professional sense.

When everyone involved in the care of a patient understands the terminology in the same way, better care is the result. It puts everyone on the right path toward the desired results, helping to achieve the common goals.

Nursing on the whole, is considered to be a science as well as an art. It is based on the belief that 'caring' is the foundation of the entire theoretical framework of the nursing profession. Caring and Nursing are both grounded in relational unity, understanding, and a connection between patient and nurse. The goal is to keep the 'care' in nursing. This is an ongoing challenge as these trained and motivated professionals strive to maintain and master the concept, the art, and the act of 'caring', making it their moral center within their profession.

The Helpful Art of Nursing Theory lays a solid foundation for care, communication, understanding, and achievement, within the nursing care profession. It brings clarity and mutual understanding among nursing practitioners, that is absolutely necessary for delivering the best possible care to the patients involved. It is a discipline, and an invaluable education for those who are dedicated to providing ‘care’ and support for those who depend on them to give it.

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