The International Council of Nurses (ICN) states that "nursing includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people."
With this far-reaching scope, nursing comprises a major aspect in the general field of health. As such, nursing functions need to be standardized in order to provide only the best nursing care to clients.
The science of nursing demands that the performance of its various functions be done using the nursing process. This process refers to the steps that nurses must take when rendering care to their patients.
Before looking at the characteristics of the nursing process, it is important to learn the basic steps that make up this process. The nursing process involves five essential steps or stages such as:
In this stage, the nurse assesses the general health status of the patient; gathers pertinent data pertaining to the client's health; and looks for possible problems in the light of the underlying medical condition of the client.
After assessing the client's health condition, the nurse then analyzes the data collected and draws up nursing diagnoses based on his or her assessment. A nursing diagnosis refers to the actual problem experienced by the client as identified by the nurse.
Once a nursing diagnosis has been established, the nurse then devises a nursing care plan (NCP) to address the problem identified.
This step of the nursing process includes the actual performance of the nursing actions outlined in the NCP, including proper documentation of the said actions.
The outcome of the nursing actions rendered to address a certain identified problem has to be evaluated to see if the actions are effective or not. If not, then an alternative plan of action will have to be implemented.
The characteristics of the nursing process
Based on the above steps that comprise the nursing process, we can establish the essential characteristics that are inherent to this basic nursing aspect. These characteristics include:
Scientific in approach
The nursing process follows a logical sequence of actions done to address a certain health issue, thus making it a scientific process.
Although a general nursing feature, the application of the nursing process is inherently specific to the needs of a particular client.
Continuous or cyclical
The nursing process involves a continuous or cyclical process that can be stopped should the problem be resolved at any stage.
The nursing process is aimed to meet the goals outlined in the overall treatment program established for a particular patient.
The nursing process is applicable in addressing any problem that the nurse encounters pertaining to a client's health, as well as with all components of patient care.
Dynamic and flexible
Depending on the nurse's evaluation, the nursing care plan and its implementation can be modified to address the problem manifested. Thus the nursing process can be made to adapt to the actual needs of the patient.
Interpersonal and collaborative
The performance of the nursing process entails interpersonal interaction and collaboration among the patient, the nurse, as well as the other members of the health team involved in patient care.
In conclusion, the nursing process provides a standard framework for the delivery of appropriate nursing care aimed to address a specific health problem of an individual client.