The History of Nursing Science

Today’s evidence-based nursing is the foundation for the providing of competent and safe health care, minimizing the “theory to practice gap” (Mackey & Bassendowski, 2016, p. 2).

This outline focuses on the elements of scientific paradigms, nursing theory and research, and evidence-based practice (EBP).

Scientific paradigms of nursing are patterns applied to resolve certain issues that arise during nursing practice or scientific research, and paradigms allow to explain complex ideas in a simple manner.

The nursing metaparadigm includes several key concepts of health, environment, person, and nursing (Nikfarid et al., 2018). Empiricism is a paradigm based on the idea that there is one reality, which a person explores through their senses (Nieswiadomy, & Bailey, 2017). Knowledge is established by controlling the variables, creating the basis for nursing research.

The interpretive paradigm suggests that people’s experiences and interpretations are more important than what an outside observer may see. This approach places more importance on the experiences and values of the patients.

The critical social theory aims to establish an egalitarian society by addressing social and institutional problems. Nursing theory and research is a relatively young scientific research branch, which makes it especially significant in the modern world.

The emergence of evidence-based nursing stems from the name of Florence Nightingale, a British nurse who studied the effects of the environment on the physical and mental health of people (Nieswiadomy & Bailey, 2017).

Nightingale studied the factors affecting soldiers’ wellbeing during the Crimean War.

Nightingale’s research later led to the acknowledgment of nursing as a scientific discipline with a specific set of knowledge at the beginning of the 20th century (Alligood, 2017).

The body of specialized knowledge of the nursing scientific discipline has developed in several stages.

At first, the question arose of what knowledge nurses need to acquire in order to become professionals.

Next, the importance of creating a dedicated academic curriculum and moving education from hospitals to colleges and universities was underlined (Alligood, 2017).

By the 1970s, a significant proportion of nurses had graduated and became involved in scientific research; however, there was a lack of theoretical base and body of knowledge (Alligood, 2017).

The emergence of master nursing programs has been the impulse for nurses to become specialized professionals capable of delivering high-quality patient care.

In the 1980s, theoretical work in the nursing discipline became systematic, transforming disparate knowledge and research into scientific theory (Alligood, 2017).

Over the course of several decades of the 20th century, the academic approach to the former exclusively practical specialization has turned nursing into a branch of scientific research and professional knowledge.

EBP in nursing is the use of research findings to make the best decisions about patient care (Ellis, 2019).

This approach combines clinical research, scientific theories, and patient communication to design an effective health care strategy.

EPB consists of scientific evidence, clinical experiences of a nurse, and values of a given patient, a combination of which allows providing wholesome care to patients (Nieswiadomy & Bailey, 2017).

EPB is used by advanced practice nurses since they should be leaders in their fields, helping others utilize the theory and scientific research in practice.

Modern nurses are forced to work in a changing environment, which makes them constantly expand their knowledge, and a nurse’s job is, among other things, to find evidence and act according to it and use nursing theory to structure their work.


Alligood, M. R. (2017). Nursing theorists and their work (9th ed.). Elsevier Health Science.

Ellis, P. (2019). Evidence-based practice in nursing (4th ed.). Learning Matters.

Mackey, A. L., & Bassendowski, S. L. (2016). The history of evidence-based practice in nursing education and practice. Journal of Professional Nursing, 33(1), 1-15. Web.

Nieswiadomy, R. M., & Bailey, C. (2017). Foundations of nursing research (7th ed.). Pearson.

Nikfarid, L., Hekmat, N., Vedad, A., & Rajabi, A. (2018). The main nursing metaparadigm concepts in human caring theory and Persian mysticism: A comparative study. Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, 11(6), 1-9.

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