Contemporary nursing studies assume that nursing students must learn how to apply theory in practice while offering care to patients simultaneously. The reality is that theoretical and practical knowledge are two different approaches to studies.
Theoretical studies assume that a nurse understands the underlying concepts and is knowledgeable about how specific things and their mechanisms work. However, without practice, a nurse cannot perform those activities as they could. Practical studies assume that nurses can do things instead of knowing how to do them.
Theoretical and practical studies in nursing vary to a great extent. That is because nursing theories tend to be thorough and creative. They structure ideas to present a meaningful, organized, and dependent-view of certain things. Although they are effective, most of them are not workable in a real healthcare setting. However, there are also other reasons why the two approaches to studies vary.
- Theories are the building blocks of the nursing practice
In nursing, there are both specific and comprehensive theories. Each tries to define the scope and structure of nursing from a certain point of view.
Some theories consider perfect situations where there are no practical problems, specific limits, and a lack of resources in a hospital setting. Thus, unavoidably, they will appear potentially impractical and unrealistic when nurses translate them into a practical reality.
- Practical studies bring out the reality of work
Practical studies help students to develop specific methods they will use when working in a hospital setting. The studies revolve around their actual daily work. In essence, nurses learn some things through experience and actions.
In situations where they acquire theoretical know-how in a vacuum, they study the practical part of it by working in a real environment. With practical studies, therefore, this leads to the caregivers getting a broader understanding of concepts through personal experiences and doing the job.
- Practical and theoretical knowledge are independent
A nurse may have theoretical knowledge and know the procedures that are necessary to care for patients. However, that does not always mean they can offer those services.
For example, theoretically, nurses understand that measuring blood pressure noninvasively in adults is different than in children. To do it safely in children, they must practically learn the auscultatory method and then compare the measurements against the data they gather with the oscillometric method.
- Practical knowledge always complements theoretical knowledge
Practical experience complements a nurse’s theoretical studies by giving them a different approach to learning. It provides them with a different context and perspective for academic learning. Nurses get an opportunity to put their theories into practice. In other words, they get to experience how different theories work in real life.
Practice and theory are two of the most crucial cornerstones of nursing studies. Their relationships are cyclical and reciprocal. Theories guide the practice of nursing. It is through practical work that the nursing profession can generate knowledge for a theory. At the same time, both interconnect and complement each other. For example, if a nurse learns how to do something, they must apply that knowledge in a real hospital setting by doing it.