Nursing is a challenging and rewarding career that often becomes the focus of individuals who are looking at changing careers. The field provides opportunities to make a positive impact on people’s lives by caring for them when they are at their most vulnerable. Nurses play a crucial role in patient advocacy, promoting health, and providing comfort and support to individuals and their families. The ability to help others, the diverse career options, and the chance to continuously learn and grow in the field make nursing a gratifying profession for many. The critical shortage in nursing in the US also makes it the perfect time to enter the field as the opportunities are endless. From being a Registered Nurse (RN) treating patients in a busy emergency room, to being a Nurse Practitioner (NP) with their own practice, nursing is a career full of endless possibilities and opportunities.
Individuals who are interested in nursing need to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). There is also the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) and the distinction is the required coursework an individual needs to enter these programs. When any student begins a traditional BSN program, they are required to complete certain general education credits alongside the specific nursing courses. These general courses could include history, economics, and psychology, while other prerequisite courses include anatomy, human growth and development, chemistry, microbiology, and physiology.
An individual who has already completed a bachelor’s degree in another program can bypass certain requirements because they already have them and ‘accelerate’ into specific nursing courses. The ABSN still requires these courses as prerequisites but most students with a degree will already have them, so the course is streamlined solely to nursing courses. Other areas where there may be slight differences in the depth and breadth of the ABSN and BSN include nursing theory, critical thinking, and the development of clinical skills.
Nursing theory helps shape the foundation of students’ knowledge and provides underlying principles to guide them in all aspects of caring for their patients. These principles guide nurses of all specializations for action in both narrow and broad practices.
Florence Nightingale was a pioneer in cultivating nursing theory and in her work, she influenced the development of the definition and scope. Nightingale’s Environmental Theory states that the vocation of nursing needs to take a holistic approach towards patients, such as environmental factors like using fresh air, cleanliness, and quiet in addition to other non-medicinal environmental aspects in conjunction with the administration of medicine. This theory is the foundation of the holistic approach taught today where nurses are inspired to collaborate with the patient and learn about the environmental factors that exist to help or hinder full recovery.
There are several different types of nursing theory that focus on different areas of care and concepts of how to administer that care. These theories include environmental, interpersonal relations, nursing need, care-cure-core, nursing process, human caring, self-care, transcultural nursing, and 21 nursing problems theory.
ABSN and BSN students will typically learn theories by studying literature, lectures, and workshops, engaging in discussions with peers, and participating in practical exercises. The students will learn the most from hands-on experience during their mandatory clinical rotations.
BSN students may have prerequisite courses that study topics such as environmental health assessments, population health, and how environmental factors affect individuals and communities. These theories are taught at the core of every nursing program and are fundamental regardless of whether an individual is trying to decide on an ABSN vs. BSN. Accredited schools such as Marymount University provide a comprehensive curriculum including nursing theory that fits in with student’s schedules and levels of education. The ABSN at Marymount University allows students to earn their BSN in as little as 16 months, providing clinical placement support in Virginia too.
Florence Nightingale’s Environmental Theory focuses on the optimal environment for the patient so they can recover and prevent further illness. Some areas of focus in this theory include air ventilation, diet, hygiene, and noise among others. Nurses who follow this theory understand that the patient’s personal space can assist in their recovery.
This theory consists of four elements that create a strong patient and nurse relationship. These elements include person, environment, health, and nursing. This theory recognizes that the communication a nurse has with their patient has a direct effect on that individual’s well-being and health.
This theory focuses on getting a patient back to an independent state as quickly as possible. The belief is that the nurse’s role is one of caring for the patient during recovery but also guiding the patient back to a state of independence.
This theory focuses on the idea that each patient should be the focus of nursing care, but they are all different with different needs. The care aspect of the theory involves the role of nurses in caring for patients. The cure refers to treatments the patients receive, and the core refers to both the care and cure the patient receives from a nurse or treatment plan.
This theory explores the relationship between nurse and patient and how important it is to the patient’s recovery. There are five stages of patient care detailed in this theory including assessment of the patient, diagnosing the ailment, creating a treatment plan designed for the patient, implementing the plan, and evaluating the progress of the patient.
This theory follows the belief that the treatment plans implemented by nurses for their patients can promote a healthier lifestyle and prevent illnesses. This theory also suggests that looking at a patient as an individual and catering the plan to their individual needs is much more effective than merely treating symptoms. The theory hypothesizes that customized care can benefit patients’ personal growth.
This theory encourages patients who can take care of themselves to reduce their nursing care, while patients who are unable to care for themselves may need more nursing care. This theory stresses the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to facilitate independence.
This theory focuses on the importance of the patient’s cultural background and how they may view nursing and the medical profession. Nurses learn that the personal and cultural values of a patient are part of their identity and are just as important to their well-being and recovery as other factors. This helps nurses cultivate a recovery plan that is in line with the patient’s personal beliefs.
This theory is one that nurses will focus on when preparing to work with patients. The concept is that nursing is a vocation that requires the nurse to develop and hone many different skills such as positive mental attitude, specialized skill sets, and strong medical knowledge.
Critical thinking is a skill that provides nurses with the ability to analyze and evaluate the information they are given objectively and teaches them to question assumptions and make informed decisions based on sound reasoning. Critical thinkers are skilled at identifying and solving complex problems by examining certain factors. They don’t take anything at face value, but rather delve deeper into the problem so they can understand the situation and come to a well-reasoned conclusion based on facts.
Critical thinking plays a crucial role in the curriculum of both ABSNs and BSNs as it enables students to assess, analyze and interpret the medical information they are given. This fosters superior decision-making skills in patient care and helps with problem-solving and judgment skills. When nurses are encouraged to think critically about all aspects of their curriculum, they can manage their time more efficiently as well as provide holistic care that considers the whole patient.
For ABSN students, critical thinking skills may be developed directly with nursing practices and clinical placements while BSN students will also develop these skills in other areas dedicated to prerequisite programs. Both programs place great emphasis on the ability to think critically and provide sound reasoning in patient care. Areas specific to critical thinking in nursing include assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, evaluation, collaboration, and ethical decision-making.
The assessment aspect of critical thinking deals with nurses evaluating the patient’s data and identifying any health patterns or concerns.
Critical thinking involves making accurate diagnoses based on comprehensive patient assessments.
Nurses must use critical thinking skills when creating effective care plans that address individual patient needs.
When using critical thinking skills in planning, nurses must apply evidence-based interventions and treatments while also considering the patient’s cultural and personal preferences.
Critical thinking involves always evaluating the care plan to see if there are any changes that must be made. Assessing the effectiveness of interventions and modifying the plan will guarantee optimal patient outcomes.
Collaborating with other members of the healthcare team as well as the patients themselves ensures open communication and effective patient care.
Nurses must analyze complex ethical dilemmas and make informed decisions within ethical boundaries that prioritize the well-being of their patients.
The development of clinical skills is the same for both ABSN and BSN students in that the progressive process remains the same. This process includes observation, practice, simulation, feedback, reflection, and continued education. ABSN students will start the clinical process sooner than their BSN counterparts due to the lengths of the programs, but both will develop the necessary skills and knowledge needed to provide the best in clinical care.
Observation is the development of clinical skills by observing experienced nurses in clinical settings.
Nursing students will gain hands-on experience performing various procedures under the direct supervision of a more experienced nurse.
Practicing simulated scenarios in a controlled environment is crucial for nursing students to gain experience dealing with certain events before they deal with live patients.
Instructors will provide students with constructive feedback and help them improve their performance.
Self-assessment and critical reflection are important parts of clinical skills development and help a nurse identify areas where they need improvement.
Nurses are lifelong learners who understand that the ongoing training and development of their skills is a necessity in a field where innovations are constant. This includes workshops, webinars, training courses, and senior staff who can provide valuable knowledge.
The main difference between ABSN and BSN degrees is the time it takes to complete them. The ABSN is designed for individuals who have already gone through the process of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in another field, so they have the general prerequisites needed for that degree. The BSN is designed for individuals who have not gone through the process of a degree and want to join the nursing profession. Both degrees have different timelines for this reason, but both offer the fundamental principles and knowledge of nursing at their core.
Nursing theories, critical thinking skills, and strong clinical skills are essential for becoming a well-rounded and efficient nurse who provides the very best in holistic patient care. Nursing is critically important as it serves as the backbone of the healthcare system and plays a pivotal role in promoting, maintaining, and restoring health to patients, families, and their communities. Nurses provide patient care, support, and education to their patients as well as advocate for their patient’s well-being.