The Science of Nursing

Nursing is a calling for compassionate people who want to care for others. In the U.S., patients come from many cultural backgrounds and have diverse personalities and needs. To care for each as an individual, nurses must be intuitive and honor the dignity of each patient. This technique involves technical knowledge and social skills, each of which depends on scientific approaches to quality care. Mastering this idea is one of the primary goals of an RN to BSN program.

Nursing became more research-based in the 1960s

Why Study the Science?

In an RN to BSN program, students learn the scientific foundations of nursing theories and their roots in chemistry, biology, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, psychology and sociology. They learn to integrate these disciplines to analyze evidence, collaborate with peers and apply solutions in a clinical practice.

This process is so essential to the quality of patient care that the National Academy of Medicine has recommended that 80 percent of the RN workforce hold a BSN degree by 2020. Employers have accepted this standard in their hiring practices. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “Nurse executives, federal agencies, the military, leading nursing organizations, healthcare foundations, magnet hospitals and minority nurse advocacy groups all recognize the unique value that baccalaureate-prepared nurses bring to the practice setting,”

The Shift to Science-Based Nursing

Nursing began to shift from a tradition- and procedure-based profession to a research-based approach in the 1960s. This shift involved a transition from hospital-based diploma programs that trained nurses in procedures to institutions of higher learning that began teaching the underlying principles. Since then, the science of nursing has been an important subject in an RN to BSN program.

Among the most important principles in the scientific research approach is evidence-based practice (EBP). According to the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, EBP is the “conscientious use of current best evidence in making decisions about patient care” and “a problem solving approach to clinical practice and administrative issues.” The process enables a practitioner to “assess research, clinical guidelines, and other information resources based on high quality findings, and apply the results to practice.”

Today’s BSN Standards of Science Education

In 2008, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing incorporated EBP and other components into its landmark publication, The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Nursing Practice, which includes the following standards for BSN education:

  • Liberal Education: Physical sciences (physics, chemistry), life sciences (biology, genetics), social sciences (psychology, sociology) and mathematical sciences.
  • Basic Organizational and Systems Leadership: Coverage of complex healthcare systems, integrating organizational structures, politics, policy, safety and regulatory guidelines.
  • Scholarship for Evidence-Based Practice: Appraisal and integration of evidence and evaluation of outcomes. Models provide a systematic process.
  • Information Management and Application of Patient Care Technology: Computer skills, and the application of monitors, data gathering devices and other supports.
  • Healthcare Policy, Finance, and Regulatory Environments: The broader context of healthcare that defines the boundaries of and influences on nursing practice.
  • Clinical Prevention and Population Health: Health promotion and disease and injury prevention with epidemiologic studies to show determinants of population health.

Effective nurses combine social skills with nursing science to provide effective, compassionate care. An RN to BSN online program can provide the training you need to advance in your nursing career and become a change agent in the field.

Learn more about Colorado Mesa University online RN to BSN program.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing: AACN Applauds New Lancet Study Linking Nursing Education and Patient Outcomes

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice

National Academy of Medicine: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health

Journal of the Medical Library Association: Review for Librarians of Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing and the Allied Health Professions in the United States

Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses: Evidence-Based Practice

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice

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