Virginia Henderson: The Nature of Nursing Model

Background of Virginia Henderson

Virginia Henderson was born in the year 1897. She was a nurse, theorist, and researcher who made great contributions to the filed of nursing (Henderson, 2006). She attained a diploma in nursing from the nursing school at Walter Reed Hospital. After graduation, she taught at Norfolk Protestant Hospital. She also worked at Henry Street Visiting Nurse Service, where her service was exceptional and helpful to patients. She received numerous recognitions and awards for her exceptional work in nursing. She is most remembered for developing the need theory from her many years of education and nursing experience (Henderson, 2006).

Henderson’s need theory

The Henderson’s need theory defines the basics of nursing as a profession. She stated that the main aim of nursing is to make patients independent in order to avoid interfering with their progress after discharge from hospital (Henderson, 2006). The theory recognizes the importance of human needs to nursing. Henderson divided nursing into 14 components based on different human needs. Examples of these components included sleep and rest, removal of body waste, play, satisfaction of curiosity, proper dressing, and proper posture (Mowinski, 2006). The theory comprises four concepts: patient, environment, nurse, and health.

Nursing metaparadigm concepts

A patient is an individual who seeks the services of a nurse in order to alleviate pain and suffering. He/she has biological, psychological, sociological, and spiritual needs that need fulfillment (Mowinski, 2006). Health refers to the ability of an individual to function optimally at biological, social, and psychological levels. Health promotion involves prevention and cure of diseases and illnesses. Nursing refers to the act of helping a patient perform optimally through elimination of a disease or illness. Finally, environment refers to the settings that surround a patient, and that affect their health (Mowinski, 2006). It also refers to external conditions that affect the health of the patient.


This concept affects patient care in various ways. The nurse considers a patient’s basic needs and provides care that fulfills them. The patient comprises a mind and body, both of which need to be healthy (Mowinski, 2006). Therefore, health care providers cater for the needs of the body and the mind. Care is provided based on the biophysical needs of the patient. For example, if the patient has stress due to an illness, the nurse should strive to eradicate both the illness and the stress. The nurse should cater for the physical and psychological needs of the patient.


The health concept determines the approach taken when developing a health care program for a patient. Being healthy means than an individual is able to function optimally at all levels. Nurses provide patient care that caters for the psychological, physical, and social needs of the patient (Tourville & Ingalls, 2004). Apart from eradicating the disease, patient care should also cater for patient’s other needs. For example, if a patient avoids people because of an illness, then he or she has physical and social needs that need to be fulfilled. The nurse should provide quality patient care in order to eradicate the disease and imparts social skills.


Nurses have a duty of care to patients and should therefore, provide quality patient care. Their main responsibility is to help patients regain their health. This concept promotes integrity and respect with regard to provision of quality health care services by nurses (Tourville & Ingalls, 2004). The need theory considers a patient as an individual with biophysical needs that need fulfillment, and not as a customer or client. It promotes accountability and responsibility (Tourville & Ingalls, 2004). Nurses consider their duty as their responsibility. For example, it is the responsibility of nurses to provide a conducive environment that promotes a patient’s wellbeing.


The concept of environment determines the type of patient care provided. Nurses provide care that manipulates the external conditions that affect the health of a patient. They evaluate the environment and develop a health care program based on the findings (Tourville & Ingalls, 2004). Therefore, patient care is determined by the influence of the environment on the wellbeing of the patient (Henderson, 2006). For example, if the surroundings affect the health of ate patient, a nurse finds ways to change the surroundings. This could involve reducing noise and disturbances by moving the patient to a quite place.


Henderson, V. (2006). The Concept of Nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 53(1), 21-31.

Mowinski, B. (2006). Nursing Theory Development: Successes and Challenges. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 12(1), 63-69.

Tourville, C., & Ingalls, K. (2004). The Living Tree of Nursing Theories. Nursing Forum, 38(3), 21-36.

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