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REVIEW THE SCIENCE OF NURSING: CURRENT ISSUES AND DILEMMAS H. Brink Abstract The question regarding the nature and direction ofnursing science, how it is derived or why and whether nursing is a science is a much debated one. This article focuses on an examination of the literature with regard to conceptualisations of science in general and nursing in particular with special emphasis on the nature, purpose, methods and domain ofscience and nursing science. It looks at the various positions taken, examines the consequences of holding any special position and makes Opsomming Die aard van wetenskapsbeoefening in die verpleegkunde, die rigting wat ditbehoort te volg, diemetodes van kennisversameling en die bestaansreg van die verpleegkunde ofhoekom dit well as wetenskap kwalifiseer, is almal omstrede vraagstukke in die verpleegliteratuur. Die literatuur met betrekking tot bogenoemde aspekte is verken en aspekte ten opsigte van die konseptualisering van die wetenskap in die algemeen en meer speisfiek die verpleegkunde as 'n wetenskap, word bespreek. Daar word veral aandag gegee aan die aard, doel, metodes en domein van die wetenskap en verpleging as ’n wetenskap. Verskillende standpunte rakende hierdie aspekte word onder die loep geneem. Aandag word ook gegee aan gevolge, indien 'n sekere standpunt gehuldig word. Voorstelle hoedate uitmuntendheid in verpleegkunde bereik kan word, word gemaak. INTRODUCTION Nursing has long been considered as an art, whereas nursing as a science is a relatively recent development. Other than Nightingale who in 1860 identified nursing as both an art and science not valuing one more than the other, (Nightingale reprinted 1969) it was not until the late 1950’s that serious attention was given to nursing as a science. Since that time nursing increasingly has become concerned about its knowledge base for practice. Today the term n u rsin g scie n c e is fa m ilia r to n u rses. C o n tem p o rary lite ra tu re ab o u n d s w ith strategies for building a nursing science (Chinn & Jacobs 1987; Jacox 1974; Watson 1985). There are Departments of Nursing Science and the South African Nursing Council (SANC) describes nursing as a human clinical health science. There are, however, critics who challenge the view that nursing is a science, and nurses are not always able to present convincing arguments that nursing in fact is a science. Even among nurses themselves there isnot always agreement on the nature and direction of nursing science or how it is derived, or why nursing is a science. For close on thirty years this has been a subject of debate among nurse scholars, and contrary positions still are being explicated. In order to be able to participate meaningfully in such debates or defend their views when challenged, it is essential for nurses to have an understanding of the nature of nursing science and how it relates to the larger body of science, to be exposed to different viewpoints and to be able to judge the relative merits of arguments related to nursing as a science.
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