Virginia Henderson Essay

“Virginia Henderson: The First Lady of Nursing” By: Jordan Harrell Virginia Henderson has been one the most influential people in the nursing field, she has received many honors for her skill and knowledge about nursing and the care of patients. Some of the major contributions to nursing as a profession include creating a finite definition of the nursing process, Henderson also arranged Maslow’s hierarchy of needs into a 14 step process relating to nursing care. Today even in death Henderson emains a authority on the role of the nurse and how that related to providing care for the individual patient in American and around the world. Virginia Henderson (1897-1996) was born in Kansas City, Missouri in her life time she received many honors for her dedication to nursing and the care of patients. She began her education in Virginia, in 1921 she graduated from the Army School of Nursing in Washington D. C. This was followed by a BS as well as a MS from Columbia

University, Teachers College graduating in 1932 and 1934 respectively. She has been called the “first lady of nursing” as well as the “first truly international nurse”. She was the first full time instructor of nursing in Virginia at the Norfolk Protestant Hospital. During her teaching career she revised Bertha Harmer’s Textbook of the Principles and Practice of Nursing which become the standard text for nursing students across the country. Most importantly her work at Yale University School of Nursing, New

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Haven, Connecticut from 1953-199 which produced many important publications including Nursing Research a Survey and Assessment in collaboration with Leo Simonds which defined the role of the nurse. She had many honors bestowed upon her and influcened many generations of nurses making her one of the most important people in the nursing field . Virginia Henderson produced many publications pertaining to nursing and the care of the patient in the process of producing these publications she also produced a finite definition of nursing.

This is what made her most famous and it states: “The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge and to do this in such a way as to help him gain independence as quickly and rapidly as possible” This definition was created to serve as a provision for nursing licensure and to ensure safe and competent care for the consumer.

Henderson recognized the need to be clear about the functions of a nurse. This definition still is today the basic building block of principals in the nursing profession, which is a focus on the individual and meeting the basic needs of that individual. This is still the standard of nursing care today and will most likely continue to be for many years to come. Just defining the role of the nurse didn’t seem to be enough for Henderson. From the definition of nursing Virginia created the 14 components of basic nursing care.

The 14 components are breath normally; eat and drink adequately; eliminate body waste; move and maintain desirable postures; sleep and rest; select suitable clothes-dress and undress; maintain body temperature within normal range by adjusting clothing and modifying environment; keep the body clean and well groomed and protect the integument; avoid dangers in the environment and avoid injuring others; communicate with others in expressing emotions, needs, fears or opinions; worship according to one’s faith; work in such a way that there is a sense of accomplishment; play or participate in various forms of recreation; learn, discover, or satisfy the curiosity that leads to normal development and heath and use the available health facilities. The first 9 components pertain to the physiological parson. The tenth and fourteenth are psychological aspects of communicating and learning.

Component 11 pertains to the spiritual and moral, while the twelfth and thirteenth components are sociologically oriented to occupation and reaction all contributing to meeting the needs of the whole person. One must understand that for this theory to be successful the patient must have the desire to return to health. For a nurse to successfully return a patient to the level of independence in which the patient will be able to care for themselves the nurse must provide individual care that is focused on each person as an individual. Henderson’s 14 needs fall into one of the following categories based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which are physiological, safety, belongingness and love, and esteem needs.

A nurse cannot provide self actualization needs with the 14 needs but by meeting the other needs the patient will be returned to a state of health which will prove them to be worth something and they can achieve self actualization. Virginia Harrison achieved many great accomplishments, she received many great honors and changed the lives of many people. By building on her knowledge she was able to create the basic definition of what it is to be a nurse. From that basic definition she went on to create a theory of the basic needs of the patient and how those needs help the patients achieve a greater independence through individualized care. Cited websites 1. Wikipedia. org 2. slideshare. net 3. nursinglibary. net


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