The nursing profession has advanced both in standards and in quality service delivery in the past century. This is attributed to the significant steps that the nurses have taken to improve their role in health care to improve better service delivery. As the primary responsibility of nursing is caring, several theories have been developed that guide nurses to effective deliver their roles and duties in their professional practice. One of these theories is the jeanWatson theory of human caring theory. The theory defines on how nurses should give human care and develop caring behaviors towards their patients. As many expect that nurses be supposed to naturally, be caring as it part if the profession’s requirements, it is not surprising that some of the nurses may not understand this basic responsibility. The jean Watson theory focuses on the basics of human caring that every nurse is supposed to practice. The theory not only defines the importance and procedures of nurses caring for their patients alone but also their own as they discharge this crucial responsibility (Watson,2008)

Description of issue

Despite the progress that the nursing profession has made in the recent years, several problems and challenges still hold the profession back and must first be resolved. One of such major problem is nursing staffing and retention. As thehealth sector expands, the number of patient-nurse ratio is becoming a hugechallenge, as nurses are required to attend to a high number of patients thatrequire medical attention. Worse still, the nurses are expected to deliver highquality service despite the low staffing in major hospitals for nurses. Thischallenge has forced nurses to work for extra hours to ensure that they attendto every patient effectively. Obviously, this is straining to the nurses andhas the biggest problem of compromising on quality of service.

Nursing staffing is a significant problem in the entire health system. First, it leads to a high cost of service delivery to the hospitals in the hospitals. Inadequate staffing has resulted in nurses restructuring working environment in hospitals, which include requiring nurses to work long hours and replacing nurses with unqualified staffing personnel (Lambrou et al, 2014). Secondly, nursing staffing has a direct effect on the time of patient stay in the hospital. Inadequate staffing increases, the hours by patients stay as they wait to beattended. This has a direct relationship on public confidence on the healthsystem and its ability on efficiently delivery of quality service. In addition, it challenges proper delivery of caring service, which is the primary responsibility of a nurse, as nurses have to work in haste to serve the high number of patients. Nurses perceive inadequate staffing as one of the majorchallenges hindering them from effectively caring for their patients (Impson etal, 2012).

Research has proven that there is direct relationship between better patient’s service outcome and hospital staffing. Inadequate staffing increases a nurse’s workloadhindering her ability to deliver quality service, which further result indissatisfaction from the patient in poor quality of services. The problem hasbeen made worse as hospitals result to resizing their staff to cater forreduced budget and increased operational costs Recruiting and retaining nursescan efficiently help reduce the amount of a nurse’s workload and consequentlyimprove delivery of quality service (Buchan, 2013).

The problem of nursing staffing does not only affect quality service delivery, it also contributes to high rate of patient mortality, nurse burn out and job dissatisfaction. This has made it hard for hospitals to retain professionalnurses resulting to hiring inexperienced nurses even in critical care units. Inadequate staffing results to emotional exhaustion leading to nurse burn out. This has a huge effect on the ability of the nurses to provide safe andeffective care even in critical conditions. This problem is affecting varioushospitals in the country where nurses report staffing levels are very lowhandle the high number of patients seeking medical care effectively. Nursesthere are left out to blame when things go wrong because they are forced to overwork(Knudson, 2013). 

The nursing Profession has to worry about this problem of staffing because it affects the entire health care system. In addition, it leads to higher job dissatisfaction therefore making it hard to retain highly experienced nurses in the profession and in the hospitals. The high rate of patient mortality resulting from understaffing in hospitals affects public confidence in the health care sector. In response to the crisis, state governments have enactedlegislations that set the minimum nurses to patient ration that requireshospitals to ensure they have adequate staff (Hairr et al, 2014)).

Application of the theory

The Jean Watson theory is very significant and applicable in all the settings on the nursing career. The theory was developed by Dr. Jean Watson between 1975and 1979. The theory focuses on caring the whole person including the patientsmind, body and spirit. Watson, a long experienced caring nursing professional andscholar, defined her theory to incorporate both art and science. It sets theframework through which nurses can use to ensure they care for their patientsefficiently. The theory entails four main concepts that are very relevant inthe nursing career. These concepts include the transpersonal caringrelationships, which is described by Watson as crucial in nurses to ensure theyprovide optimal care to their patients. The second component is the clinicalcaritas processes. This component entails the virtues of hope, loveunderstanding among other that a nurse must possess in the nursing profession. This component explores the role of such virtues concerning consideration of the helping others with sensitivity and compassion. The third component is thecaring moment/occasion. This component is crucial in enabling nurses to make connectionswith the patients so that they can to facilitate physical interaction formaximum care to the patients. The last component in Watson’s theory discus isthe component of caring/healing consciousness. This component highlights on thesignificance of awareness of human and life phenomena by nurses (Watson, 2006).

The jean theory can be applied in solving the problem of staffing and retention in nursing in number of ways. The theory attaches the importance of experienced both for the nurses and for the patients. Applying this significance as detailed in the theory can help identify and appreciate the experience of qualified nurses, which can help in retaining them for between services. Experienced nurses have better skills in handling client relationship and interacting with them to ensure that they benefit from maximum care. If this important component of jeans theory is put into consideration, experienced nurses will be given a priority to retain them in the profession, which will significantly improve patient care (SItzman, & Watson, 2014). 

The clinical processes entailed in the theory are basic cores that every nurse must possess in order to accurately access the needs of the client health and priorities. The theory defines which roles in these processes that the patientand the nurse will assume to make patient care more effective. Applying thetheory on the problem can help improve the patient care and reduce patientdissatisfaction with the health system. Patients will feel that their health needshave been prioritized especially considering the staffing crisis in thehospitals. The theory also details on the importance of transpersonal caringrelationship. In a nurse’s perspective, the nurses can apply this component tostrive and maintain the client –nurse relationship irrespective of the shortagein staffing in the hospitals. This will help respite the patients trust to thehealth system despite the challenge of inadequate staffing. To achieve this, jean advises the nurse to understand the integration of the body, mind and the spirit to connect with the client’s beliefs systems. Good interpersonalrelation can also promote cooperation between the patients and the nurses andsave a nurses time to attend to more patients where there are understaffingcrisis (SItzman, & Watson, 2014). 

In the application of the component of caring/healing consciousness, nurses understanding of human and life phenomena is significantly providing the required care even on patients with terminal illness. In addition, appreciating that treatment does not always guarantee healing will improve their understanding of patient conditions and improve their care. 

 The greatest limitation of this theory is lack of research to support jeans theory. Although the theory has been developed in that past two decades, the research requires further research to help measure the desired outcome that arise from the theory. It also requires research back its application for the nurses in their practice especially how it can be applied in solving various problems experienced by nurses as they do their duties and responsibilities in-patient care. Although the theory is based exclusively on patients and nurses role in provision of care, its application can also be extended to include the management and government who handle the staffing and retention of nurses. Providing better patient care is a collective responsibility of every shareholder in the health sector. As the nurses perform their roles and responsibilities, they require a good working environment, welfare, equipments and proper remunerations to improve the entire health sector.


 Patient care is the core responsibility of the nursing profession. However, the problem of staffing and retention significantly hinders the delivery of this basic service to the patients. Although inadequate staff problem will never be completely resolved due to the rising budget crises and other sectors of the economy requiring attention, applying the jeans Watson theory is an effective alternative way to resolve the challenges arising from the problem. The theory is integrated in the basic responsibility of a nurse and understanding its requirements can make the profession more enjoyable improving job satisfaction for nurses.


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Sitzman, K., & Watson, J. (2014). Caring Science, Mindful Practice : Implementing Watson’s Human Caring Theory. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

Watson, J. (2006). Jean Watson: Theory of human caring (Ed.). In Parker, M., Nursing theories and nursing practice. (2nd ed., p. 295-307). Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.