Nursing Profession Theories

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The Modeling and Role Modeling Theory was introduced and developed by Helen Erickson, Evelyn M. Tomlin, and Mary Anne P. Swain and borrowed its basic concepts from a large variety of sources (among which are Maslow’s Theory of Hierarchy of Needs, Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, and Seyle and Lazarus’s General Adaptation Syndrome). The theory makes assumptions about similarities and differences between patients that should be taken into consideration by nurses in the process of treatment (Butts & Rich, 2013). Adaptation is on the list of concepts that reflect how different people are from each other. It is understood as the way patients choose to react to stress factors. Every person is believed to have an individual ability to manage stressors through resource mobilization, which determines one’s adaptation potential. The theory identifies three types of adaptation: arousal (connected with anxiety), equilibrium (characterizing as a state of balance), and impoverishment (resulting from depleted resources) (Alligood, 2014).

This definition of adaptation is quite different from other nursing theorists’ understanding. For example, Jean Piaget believes that adaptation can happen only in two ways: either through assimilation or accommodation. In the former case, people retrieve information from outer sources and transform it to comply with their own ideas or to fit into their mental schemas. On the contrary, in the case of accommodation, new information leads to a change of the existing mental patterns (Butts & Rich, 2013).

According to Lazarus’s theory, adaptation goes through four stages: primary appraisal (deciding that the situation is hazardous), secondary appraisal (assessing available recourses to deal with it), problem-based coping (finding new behavioral patterns), and emotion-based coping (regulating the stress). The Modeling and Role Modeling Theory shares a lot with Lazarus’s ideas (Alligood, 2014).

Finally, Callista Roy’s Adaptation Model views a person as a bio-psycho-social being continuously interacting with the changing environment, which requires both inborn and acquired mechanisms to adapt. Each person had four modes of adaptation: adapting physiologic, self-perceptive, role performing, and inter-dependence needs. Adaptation is understood as the ultimate goal of nursing, which allows stating that it is viewed broader than coping with stress factors (as in the case of the Modeling and Role Modeling Theory) (Alligood, 2014).

Transition Theory was developed by Afaf Ibrahim Meleis and relies on the idea that all people inevitably have to go through life changes that can facilitate health transformations. Four major types of transition are singled out: developmental, health and illness, situational, and organizational. The most influential transition I had to undergo was connected with my coming of age, which can be classified as developmental (i.e., connected with aging milestones). My pattern of response was far from demonstrating a perception of readiness for upcoming changes. There are five properties of transitions: awareness, engagement, change, time span, and critical appraisal (Butts & Rich, 2013).

Although I was striving to increase my awareness of the topic, I certainly lacked the willingness to take part in all other processes that could facilitate physical and psychological change. My perception of this transition could be called adverse as I had the feeling that no adaptation options would be able to help me overcome the difficulties of that period. However, the meaning attached to this process helped me a lot in realizing the importance of a healthy transition. I had many other cases of transition in my life later, but most of them were much simpler to cope with and usually were of situational or organizational type. I believe that such transitions are easier to overcome as, unlike developmental ones, they do not affect all systems of the body, creating additional stress.


Alligood, M. R. (2014). Nursing theorists and their work. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Butts, J. B., & Rich, K. L. (2013). Philosophies and theories for advanced nursing practice. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

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NursingBird. "Nursing Profession Theories." September 5, 2021.