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Healthcareis a human right, which Virginia Henderson wanted each person topossess. She was born in Kansas City and studied nursing. She was aresearcher and an educator but passed on in 1996. Also, she was agreat leader in the field of nursing who advocated forleader-followercollaborations leading to collective working as a community.Hendersonwasbehind the idea of maintaining a good professional image for nursesby working for patient’s wellness. As a leader, she managedconflicts effectively. Additionally, Hendersonembracedcreativity by pilotingfor the electronic networking system. She wanted nurses to work withpassion like she did to solve the issues in the health system.Hendersoncontributed to the nursing theory by definingnursing, the role and function of nurses, and the requirementsof nursing care. This is evident in the fourteen components ofprimarynursing care she developed. She also gave a criterion for measuring askilled nurse. Consequently, she has had many implications for thecurrent nursing practice through her theory and leadership ability.

Keywords:leadership,theory, independence, health



VirginiaAvernal Henderson was born in 1897 in Kansas City, Missouri. Her nameemanated from her mother’s state of Virginia where she got educatedat her grandfather’s boys` school. Later, she joined the U. S. ArmySchool of Nursing and graduated in 1921. In 1932 and 1934respectively, she acceded to the Columbia University earning Bachelorand Master of Science degrees. She trained people there from 1934 to1948, but in 1953, she began working at the Yale School of Nursing.She was significant in World War I by briefly taking care of thosewounded. After that, she operated as a public health nurse in NewYork and Washington D. C. She deserted her desires of becoming aninterior designer and concentrated on nursing. Henderson becamewell-known after working as a researcher and educator at Yale Schoolof Nursing and Columbia University. She was the most prominent nursein the 20th century, after the naming of the Sigma Theta TauInternational University after her. In 1996, she bid goodbye to herfriends and family after taking the chocolate cake and passed away insilence. She portrayed selflessness in leadership and offered ahelping hand to the sick (Mcewen&amp Wills, 2016).Evidently,Henderson significantly impacted on the nursing profession andcontributed to the nursing theory, which has substantially impactedon today’s nursing practice.

Hendersongreatly contributed to the nursing profession through her leadershipstyle. She was a stylish lady full of kindness who managed with anabundant sense of humor and wisdom. She trained the health experts towork collectively in a workable unity to attain jointly envisionedgoals for patients and their families. Also, she demonstrated ademocratic leadership style by upholding leader-followercollaborations. She guided the health workers as opposed tocontrolling them. She possessed the attribute of management ofattention. This helped in the motivation of employees through propercommunication of goals(Mcewen&amp Wills, 2016).As such, she was able to attract and retain many followers. She alsobelieved that to be successful in nursing each should be motivatedto have a high-quality personal life, contribute effectively to thecommunity, and offer excellent professional services to the society.Therefore, she advocated for an all-around profession.

Hendersonadvocated for a good image for the nurses as a leader by insistingthat they should work to ensure a patient’s health is retained orthey die in peace. She insisted that while working, they should focuson helping the patient develop independence by doing some activitieson their own. Therefore, she advocated that the nurse owes thepatients’ recovery, and not the doctors. Concerning conflicts thatcould arise, she said that no nurse should demand more than whatanother can offer. This would help the reduction of the compromisedoutcomes(Henderson,2015).It thus means that Henderson was well versed in conflict management.Additionally, she told the nurses to stay focused on their duties,and should not allow the non-medical undertakings like filing,cleaning, and clerking to divert their attention. As such, shemanaged her workforce remarkably.

Hendersonwas full of creativity since she piloted for the electronicnetworking system of information established to offer nurses withup-to-date, jargon-free information everywhere. She insisted that nooccupation, profession, or industry can pursue adequate evaluationwithout research. Additionally, she understood that nursing requiredresearch due to the rise in technological advancements. As a leader,she believed that patients should be given a chance to comprehendtheir medical charts (Yoder-Wise &amp Kowalski, 2015). This isbecause it enables them not use the medical care system excessively.According to her, this is attained through proper communication toenhance the patient’s empowerment over their sickness (Mcewen &ampWills, 2016). As a result, the patients will aim at inhibiting morecomplications and increasing the likelihood of medical compliance.

Asa leader, Henderson served as a symbol by being passionate about theproblems facing the health care system. She fought for the deliveryof universal health training to be inaugurated in colleges and gradeschools. Through her efforts, nurses got the acknowledgment toprovide primary health care. Furthermore, she had affirming values,which emanated from her vocal family background that discussedbeauty, truth, goodness, and charm. She was always ready foroppositions that could arise from the views she expressed (&quotTheNature of Nursing on JSTOR,&quot 2016). In fact, in the articleExcellence in Nursing, she said that no one who emerged as anepitomizing beauty, charm, and goodness would be accepted. Therefore,it enabled her to be affirmative as a leader and expect opposition.

VirginiaHenderson contributed to the nursing theory by defining nursing, therole and function of nurses, and the requirementsof nursing care. She stated that the exclusive role of nurses is tohelp the sick or healthy individuals to perform activities that leadto health, its regaining, or enable the individual to die peacefully.She insisted that this should be done to help them gain independencequickly. She developed fourteen components of elementarynursing care including normal breathing, eating and drinkingsufficiently, removal of body wastes, and moving and sustainingappropriate positions. She also advocated for sleep and rest, as wellas choosing appropriate clothing and body temperature maintenancewithin the standard range by clothing adjustment and environmentalmodification (Henderson, 2015). Moreover, she was for the idea ofkeeping one’s body clean and well groomed, wanted people to evadethe dangers prevalent in the environment, and shun injuring others.Henderson also asserted that people should communicate by conveyingtheir needs, emotions, fears, or opinions, worship as per one’sfaith, work to the attainment of a sense of accomplishment, andparticipate in recreational activities. Lastly, she said that peopleshould gratify curiosity that enhances health and normal development.

Hendersonalso gave criteria of measuring a great nurse. According to her, thisis evident when there are reduced rates of mortality in patients anurse serves. Lowered morbidity rates that pertain some illnessesfor example, rickets in children, or impetigo in infants imply thebrilliance of a nurse. Reduction in signs of nursing negligenceincluding pressure sores also shows that a nurse is excellent. Also,for a nurse to be viewed as outstanding, the patients they handleshould portray a decrease in negativism, and psychological withdrawalindications. Moreover, a reduction in the rates of dependenceconcerning daily undertakings in a person is a sign that a nurse isgood at their work. Lastly, to identify an exceptional nurse, one canlook for the favorable sentiments of care given by the nurse asreported by the patient, other nurses, patient’s family, or anyother medical employees (&quotThe Nature of Nursing on JSTOR,&quot2016). This theory, concentrates on the patient difficulties,training of nurses, and the care they give.

Todevelop this theory, Henderson’s educationand clinical practice played a significant role. Through helpingthose wounded in World War I, she recognized that nursing was aboutthe significance of swiftly implementing the nursing processes. Herexperiences in person`s lifestyle, and the environmentenhanced her knowledge in communal health nursing (Henderson, 2015).After her graduation in 1921, she focused her education on research,nursing, and teaching. These together with encouragements from hercolleagues made her define the role and function of a nurse.

VirginiaHenderson has had many implications for the current nursing practicesince her definition of nursing is still relevant today. Nursesassist patients daily particularly those who are unable to do sobecause of incapacitating conditions. The fourteen Fundamental Needsare significantly influential. This is evident in the clinicalenvironment through the social, physical, and emotional assistance topatients. It is also seen when they get assisted in breathingnormally, eradication of body wastes, and giving them sufficient foodand drinks. Breathing is Henderson’s first basic necessity, whichis assessed many times in patients. It is consistent with theadministration of oxygen to patients today (Yoder-Wise&amp Kowalski, 2015).Additionally, it asserts for the provision of biological needs likecatheterization for patients in need of surgery to enable theexcretion of wastes when unable to do so consciously. She elaboratedon the inseparability of the body and mind, that is, they areconsidered as one entity (Henderson,2015).This is through her theory, which stressed the significance of therelationship between a nurse, a patient, and the advancement ofnursing practices. Today, caregivers feel a sense of accomplishmentwhen their patients progress to states of independence. Additionally,Henderson contributed to today’s nursing education as the studentsare taught on the supportive and assistive roles of nurses in themanagement of patients. To provide high-quality care, the studentsare asked to develop effective plans, just the way Henderson saidthat to attain someone’s health, a nurse should have a sufficientstudy of their family through proper planning.

Inconclusion, Virginia Avernal Henderson has made a significantcontribution to the current field of nursing. She was a selflessleader who aimed at helping the sick. She portrayed effectiveleadership in the nursing profession and contributed to the nursingtheory, which has been useful up to today. Her leadership skillscomprised democracy, good image creation, creativity, acting as asymbol to be emulated, and having affirmative values. Hercontribution to the nursing theory is evident through her definitionof nursing as helping people maintain or regain their health and thefourteen principles. The theory maintains its relevance today as theprinciples are still applicable in the nursing profession.


Henderson,V. (2015). The concept of nursing. J Adv Nurs, 3(2),113-130. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2648.1978.tb00837.x

Mcewen,M. &amp Wills, E. (2016). Theoretical Basis for Nursing.Philpapers.org. Retrieved 16 November 2016, fromhttp://philpapers.org/rec/MCETBF

TheNature of Nursing on JSTOR. (2016). Jstor.org. Retrieved16 November 2016, fromhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/3419278?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Yoder-Wise,P. &amp Kowalski, K. (2015). Beyond leading and managing (6thed.). St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby Elsevier.