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Imogene King

Health is the central notion on which nursing as a practice is founded upon. The idea of restoration of health plays a key role in every account of what nursing is. In the words of Imogene King, the goal of nursing is “to help individuals and groups attain, maintain, and restore health. ” However, nursing is distinct from medicine, in that medicine deals with diagnosis and treatment of disease whereas nursing is more concerned with caring for the person.

In order to be effective, the nurse needs to establish a close rapport with the patient, as both of them work towards a common goal, thus making communication and interaction a vital component of the whole treatment process. Nurses commonly set goals for, and most often with, clients. Imogene King examines this process from a nursing theory perspective. King’s theory emphasizes client participation and mutual goal-setting and provides an interactive framework for nurses.

King’s ideas have influenced the advancement of nursing theory all over the world, over the past few decades. In this paper, we will look into King’s theories and conceptual framework at some length. We will begin by delineating King’s education and work background and the situation at one point of her academic career that prompted her to develop a rational and systematic framework for the practice of nursing. In the subsequent section we will look into some relevant issues regarding changing image of nursing.

Thereafter, we shall elaborate a few core concepts of King’s theories and categorize King’s contributions among the larger body of nursing theory; we will then proceed to provide an instance of application of King’s conceptual framework in real life. In the end, there will be a short recounting the author’s personal reaction and response to King’s theories, as seen from the perspective of her day-to-day nursing practice. A. Very much in keeping with her theory that stresses the environmental context of a person, it was King’s nursing experiences that have served as a background for the development of her theories and perspectives.

King earned a diploma from St. John’s Hospital, St. Louis, MO, 1945, and served as a clinical instructor 1947-51 and 1952-58. She completed her BSNE, 1948 and MSN, 1957 at St. Louis University. King received her EdD in 1961from Columbia University, Teachers’ College. Since then, King held academic positions at Loyola University, Chicago, Ohio State University and University of South Florida (Mesmer 1996). During the early 1960’s, the development of King’s conceptual framework was instigated by the need of creating a master’s program in nursing at Loyola University in Chicago.

King began her thinking and research on the basis of several fundamental questions such as what is the nursing act, what is the nursing process, and what is the goal of nursing. King attempted to systematically approach many more such elementary yet complex questions: How are nurses educated for practice? How and where is nursing practiced? Who needs nursing in our society? She set all these seemingly simple questions in the context of an environment that was becoming increasingly complex.

She examined the society of her time and identified several trends in health care which were going hand in hand with the general trends of the society characterized by knowledge explosion and relentless technological advancement. As she searched for the answers for her questions, King reviewed the literature in psychology, sociology and nursing, attempting to arrive at a comprehensive framework for the theory of nursing, based on insights garnered from the study of relevant subjects such as psychology and sociology.

She found concepts such as interpersonal relations, perception and organization to be of special importance to the field of nursing. King went on to discuss her findings at conferences and with colleagues. Applying the process of critical thinking, discussion and debate, King began developing her framework. In 1964, the first master’s degree in the School of Nursing at Loyola University, Chicago, was started under the leadership of Dr. Imogene King. Today, her A Theory for Nursing: Systems, Concepts, Process (1981) and Curriculum and Instruction in Nursing (1986) are used world-wide.

King presented at International Theory Conference from late seventies through nineties, and well into the present decade. King is a Sigma Theta Tau International Virginia Henderson fellow and also received Elizabeth Russell Belford Founders Award for Excellence in Education, 1989. She is also an American Academy of Nursing fellow who has received ANA Jessie Scott Award, 1996, “for demonstrating the interdependent relationships among nursing education, nursing practice and nursing research. ” (ana. org 2004)

Over the years, King has worked with nurses in many countries and continents: Africa, Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Denmark and China, motivated by the deep aspiration to shape professional nursing practice, scholarship and education. B. In our times, nurses are held in higher esteem by the public than they had been in the past. Nurses clearly touch the lives of considerable sections of the population today. Many people tend to remember how at some point in their lives a nurse was kind to themselves, or to some of their friends and relatives.

The fact that nurses serve society seems to have an automatically positive impact on society’s value of nurse. Yet, such a sense of regard and respect often borders on the vague, being starkly incommensurate with the consideration nurses deserve in reality. There is still a large gulf to be bridged between the public’s perception of nursing from the reality of nursing. In media and popular opinion, physicians continue to score way above nurses on such attributes as ambition, intelligence, rationality, aggression, self-confidence, and even altruism.

The nurse is often pictured as the “handmaiden” to the physician, and scores high on such attributes as obedience, conformity, flexibility, meekness and serenity (Ellis & Hartley 2004). Since the 1970’s the popular image of the nurse has failed to reflect changing professional conditions, and to some extent has been based on derogatory stereotypes that have undermined public confidence in and respect for the professional nurse. However, from the latter half of 1990’s, owing to popular TV programs such as Chicago Hope and ER, which depicted hospital conditions in a more realistic manner, the image of nurses has been given a boost.

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