Desirie Luna, Emily Ohshimo & Victoria Pequegnat


Part of the science of nursing is for nurses to apply the theories that they have learned in their observations, their problem solving, their explanations, their nursing interventions, their nursing care plan as well as learning plans and their practice evaluations (Peplau, 1988, p. 12). Nursing Science consists of systematized knowledge; this knowledge is required to be organized and exact, it is preferred to have more knowledge than needed, rather than less knowledge and it is needed to confidential, especially if it is related to a patient (Peplau, 1988, p.12). The Science of nursing is used directly as well as indirectly when applied in nursing practice (Peplau, 1988, p. 13).


There is not one single definition for nursing science. The definition must be broad enough that it can encompass all aspects of science related to nursing. Several different authors and theorist have comprised definitions of what nursing science means to them. Here are just a few:

Daly (1997) defines nursing science as “an identifiable, discrete body of knowledge comprising paradigms, frameworks, and theories” (as cited in Barrett, 2002, p. 56).

Mitchell (1997) states that nursing science “represents clusters of precisely selected beliefs and values that are crafted into distinct theoretical structures” (as cited in Barrett, 2002, p. 56).

Cody (1997) describes nursing science as “the essence of nursing as a scholarly discipline, without it there would be no nursing, only care” (as cited in Barrett, 2002, p. 56).

The College of Nurses of Ontario (2006) defines nursing science as “application of nursing knowledge and the technical aspects of practice”. (College of Nurses of Ontario, 2006).

“Nursing Science is a domain of knowledge concerned with the adaptation of individuals and groups to actual or potential health problems, the environments that influence health in humans, and the therapeutic interventions that promote health and affect the consequences of illness” (Kim, 1994, p. 145).

Lastly, the American Academy of Nursing’s Expert Panel (2000) suggests that: "nursing science, a basic science, is the substantive discipline-specific knowledge that focuses on the human-universe-health process articulated in the nursing frameworks and theories. The discipline-specific knowledge resides within schools of thought that reflect differing philosophical perspectives that give rise to ontological, epistemological, and methodological processes for the development and use of knowledge concerning nursing’s unique phenomenon of concern" (as cited in Barrett, 2002, p. 57).

To obtain a clear definition that encompasses every aspect of nursing science, these definitions must be combined. A broad definition of nursing science is the understanding of human health, the application of that knowledge to influence healing, with the purpose being to improve an individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual health.


Nursing science is a topic that is fairly unknown to the general public and could be considered a fairly recent concept introduced into to the nursing profession (Schmelzer, 2008, p. 438). Science is used in nursing when “scientists develop theories to describe, explain, predict, and control the world around us and test their theories with experiments. When we understand the scientific rationale for our actions, we can choose the best course of action for a given situation” (Schmelzer, 2008, p. 438). Nursing science must be continually improved in order to provide the best patient care possible.

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Caring is a very large part of Nursing Science. The type and degree of care varies for each patient and caring is just a simple mean of using the knowledge attained through schooling (Rogers, 1992, p. 33). Nursing science contributes to the bettering patient care and it attempts to make this visible not only for nurses, but also for society (Kirkevold, 1997, p. 977).


Nursing research makes clear contributions to the development of nursing science (Kirkevold, 1997, p. 977). Nursing research has been judged as non-cumulative, which is neither helpful nor beneficial for Nursing Science (Kirkevold, 1997, p. 978).


Nursing research would not be able to contribute to nursing science if it were not for nursing knowledge. In order for nursing knowledge to help nursing research in its contributions, the knowledge itself needs to be organized with a clear point (Kirkevold, 1997, p. 977). In order for nursing knowledge to be helpful it needs to contain relative knowledge from varying research studies in order to provide greater amounts of thorough information (Kirkevold, 1997, p.977).


The goal of nursing science is to influence nursing practice (Kirkevold, 1997, p. 979). In order for nursing science to do this, nursing research needs to be more cohesive and easier to understand. It is difficult for clinical nurses to read the various research reports as well as critique them in order to find the importance of each of the reports (Kirkevold, 1997, p. 979). For Nursing Science to influence nursing practice nursing research needs to be presented to nurses in a way, which allows its usefulness to be easily seen (Kirkevold, 1997, p.979).


The original philosophy of science had been first challenged back in 1962 by Thomas Kuhn’s book, The Structure of Scientific Revolution. This book introduced much more into the philosophy of science, including a large amount of new vocabulary (p. 43).

Although nursing science is not a well-known topic to the public, it is what helps nurses take care of their patients completely. Without nursing science, nursing knowledge would be very limited. Nurses are able to apply new treatments and new standards of care through the development of nursing science. The patients health lies in the hands of their nurse, and without the progression of nursing science, the patients care would be severely restricted.

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  • Barrett, E. (2002). What is nursing science? Nursing Science Quarterly, 15(1), 51-60. doi: 10.1177/089431840201500109
  • Kim, H., S. (1994). Practice theories in nursing and a science of nursing practice. Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice: An International Journal, 8(2). 145-158. Retrieved from
  • Kirkevold, M. (1997). Integrative nursing research – an important strategy to further the development of nursing science and nursing practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 25, 977-984. Retrieved from
  • Peplau, H., E. (1988). The art and science of nursing: similarities, differences and relations. Nursing Science Quarterly, 1(8). 7-15. doi: 10.1177/089431848800100105
  • Rogers, M., E. (1992). Nursing science and the space age. Nursing Science Quarterly, 5(27). 26-34. doi: 10.1177/089431849200500108
  • Schmelzer, M. (2008). The importance of nursing science: Six lessons from history. Gastroenterology Nursing, 31(6), 438-440. Retrieved from