Factors impacting on nurses' transference of theoretical knowledge of holistic care into clinical practice
Since nurse education moved to universities, a reoccurring concern of health consumers, health administrators, and some practising nurses is that nurses are not able to transfer the theoretical knowledge of holistic care into practice. Much has been written about this concern usually under the heading of the theory–practice gap. A common reason that has been highlighted as the cause of this gap is that the theoretical knowledge that nurses learn in academia is predicated on concepts such as humanism and holistic caring. In contrast, the bureaucratic organisation where nurses provide care tends to be based on management concepts where cost containment and outcome measures are more acceptable. Hence nurses’ learned values of holistic caring are pitted against the reality of the practice setting. So what is this practice reality? This paper attempts to provide an insider view of why the theoretical knowledge of holistic care may be difficult to enact in the clinical setting. In-depth taped interviews with nurses and participant observation were conducted in acute care hospitals in Western Australia. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using the constant comparative method. The findings indicated that utilitarian nursing and role models had impacted on the transference of theoretical knowledge of holistic care into practice. The paper outlines some measures that nurses themselves can undertake to ensure the narrowing of the theory–practice gap in this area.
Nurse Education in Practice