Characteristics of the Nursing Process and Steps

The nursing process is a deductive theory. It is a systematic written process to help nurses act as caregivers and follow a step by step method of functioning. This process essentially provides guide lines and a frame work by which to follow systematically, scientifically and universally as opposed to the ancient system of midwives assisting a physician.

The characteristics of nursing process are such that it exists for every patient problem, every illness, and every step of the treatment as outlined in the nursing model which takes into account a) the person, b) the environment of the patient c) health of the patient, and d) nursing care delivered.

The phases of the nursing process are noted below. This is what helps one understand the characteristics of the process. Here are steps:

1. Critical Thinking:

This basically deals with the problem-solving process and the decision making process. For eg. When a 4 year old boy refuses to take a medication in pill form because it is “too big and it hurts to swallow”, the nurse demonstrates critical thinking by checking out available options such as asking the mother for the best method her child generally follows (by breaking the pill in half and swallowing smaller bits) or perhaps by enquiring with the pharmacy for an alternative paediatric formula in liquid form. It is basically the nurse taking a call on the best possible decision to make.

2. Assessing:

This is the process by which a nurse studies the socio-physio-psychological state of the patient, based on subjective and objective data.

Subjective data : personal data personal opinions, values, aesthetics, religion, upbringing, beliefs, life style, diet, family, personal details such as name, address, age, etc.

Objective data : scientific data based on the format of systematic questionnaires for history of illnesses, symptoms shown by the patient, temperature, blood pressure, height, weight, etc.

Data collection is the form of verbal and non verbal communication, written medical references from medical practitioners, and also by body language. Accurate data collection is dependent upon the skill and communication of the nurse to gain the patient’s trust.

3. Diagnosis:

The nature of the illness or the problem as the nurse sees it. This comprises of the a) problem statement as the patient has stated it, b) Etiology or the probable cause, and c) defining characteristics (signs and symptoms)

4. Planning:

Here, the problems identified are conveyed to the patient and measurable goals are set.

5. Implementing and Evaluating:

This is the step by step method of carrying out the plans to achieve the set goal. If, on evaluation there seems to be no progress towards good health, the nurse will have to make necessary changes in the form of treatment resulting in reviewing and modifying the patient’s nursing care plan.

6. Documenting and Reporting:

The patient’s entire medical history and forms of treatment are recorded and documented. Every step of the nursing care plan is shown with a recommended follow-up plan. This document or patient file is confidential and is the property of the medical institution. Upon request a duplicate copy may be presented or relevant details may be supplied. This patient file cannot be circulated to any outside concerns and call be pulled up in a court of law if there is a breach in trust.

After going through the above mentioned phases and steps of the nursing process we will understand better what the characteristics of this entire process is.

1. Cyclic and Dynamic: – it is an ongoing continuous process throughout the stages of illness and treatment and ends with the cease of the illness.

2. Goal directed and Client oriented: The nursing process is intended to treat the patient and is in the best interest of the patient.

3. Interpersonal and Collaborative: This goes to explain the amount of interaction that might be necessary between nurses, patients of similar illnesses and the medical team. It might involve group therapy and / or family counselling.

4. Universally applicable: This process is universally standard and no matter what the institution it may be, the process remains the same. It is like a common nursing language with common nursing terminology followed universally.

5. Scientific and Systematic: The process is based on the objective format, viz., scientific format. Every symptom or sign is a result of a scientific fact which leads to scientific methods of treatment and follow-ups. It is systematic and goes from step to step as in the phases mentioned above. It is not based on mere instincts, but outlined within a framework of set parameters.

The nursing process is a simple tool used to understand and decipher complex medical issues resulting in a proper judgement about the patients health state and what could be the probable outcomes.