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Models: Nursing versus Medical

The “medical” model was created in the 1970’s by Ronald Laing to describe the overall training for all medical doctors. It breaks down into areas of responsibility for a doctor, and how they deal with healthcare. The medical model for children uses a list as follows:

This is how doctors are trained, and subsequently, how they think.

Alternatively, the “nursing” model places emphasis on a more holistic approach to ailment as taken by nursing. Loosely, the nursing model views an ailment in terms of what the patient can or cannot do for themselves. Nurses tend to see illness not only in terms of biology, but also in terms of how that biology affects the human aspect of illness.

A simple, yet powerful, example of the difference between the two models is what happens when we’re faced with an injured leg. The medical model easily recognizes the physical ailment in terms of biology and breakdown.

The bone is broken. The ligament is frayed. The area is swelled and sensitive to tactile testing.

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The nursing model recognizes the biology of the injury, as with the medical model. However, the nursing model additionally recognizes how these biological ailments affect a human being. The nursing model takes all this into consideration, and comes up with a plan to care for and address the human element.

The nursing model recognizes that there is far more to healing a human being than simply setting bones and staunching blood loss.

Doctors are not trained or inclined to treat human beings, they are trained and inclined to troubleshoot and repair biological systems. Where the medical model identifies a dysfunction of the lung, the nursing model sees a person that cannot breathe properly.

The difference is in how the care is given.

This is not to say that the medical model is cold or inhuman, or that the model is not necessary. On the contrary, it is to say that a well-rounded approach to healthcare based on both models can make all the difference when providing the very best medical services. Only when we can offer ways to make life better for a person will they truly be able to heal.

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