Humanistic Model

Many models or approaches to nursing look at the patient as a whole person rather than simply an illness or injury. This approach, called a holistic or humanistic approach, helps foster mental and emotional health in addition to physical health.

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Humanistic nursing theories have a foundation in the belief that patients can grow in a healthy and creative way. The model was created by Josephine Paterson and Loretta Zderad. Paterson and Zderad believed nursing education should be founded in experience,
and that a nurse’s training should focus as much on the nurse’s ability to relate to and interact with patients as a scientific and medical background.

This approach to nursing places an emphasis on the nurse-patient relationship, in which both people influence the outcome of the nursing interventions. The function of the nursing approach shows that the relationship between the nurse and patient has as much to do with the patient’s healing as medical interventions. Humanistic nursing focuses closely on how the relationship between the patient and nurse develops in addition the patient’s physical and mental health.

The humanistic model of nursing looks at the patient as an individual, and each situation as unique. In this nursing approach, there is no formulaic method or process in order to care for patients. Each patient is assessed and treated on a case-by-case basis.

The Humanistic Model of Nursing is an approach to nursing that encompasses a number of individual theories, including Patricia Benner’s From Novice to Expert Model of Nursing and Jean Watson’s Theory of Caring.

Benner’s From Novice to Expert Model of Nursing proposes that a nurse can gain knowledge and skills without ever learning the theory behind it. Benner explains that the development of knowledge in applied disciplines such as medicine and nursing is composed of the extension of practical knowledge through research and the characterization and understanding of the “know how” of clinical experience. The theory explains the five levels of nursing, which are: novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert. How nurses approach patients is dependent on the level of expertise of the nurse.

In Watson’s Theory of Caring, nursing is “concerned with promoting health, preventing illness, caring for the sick and restoring health.” Watson believes that holistic health care is central to the practice of nursing, and defines nursing as “a human science of persons and human health-illness experiences that are mediated by professional, personal, scientific, esthetic, and ethical human transactions.” Watson’s model contains seven assumptions about care and caring, as well as ten primary carative factors. It places the patient in the
context of the family, community, and culture, and the focus of the practice is on the patient rather than the technology.

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