"[A] sophisticated treatment of an important issue for all in the healing professions. I was . . . particularly drawn to [the] descriptions of the needs of the ill person and the decision-making process in relationship to those needs."
—Edmund D. Pellegrino, M.D., director of the Joseph and Rose Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University
—Em Olivia Bevis, R.N., M.A., F.A.A.N., Professor, Georgia Southern College
In the evolution of the nursing profession, the phrases nursing care, therapeutic care, caring for others, and related expressions are used by nurses to describe their professional service to others. Members of our society have different thoughts and role expectations about these phrases in relation to the kind of care they receive from nurses. Furthermore, these expressions hold different meanings for nurses in their various care-giving roles, such as to individual clients, families, and community groups they serve. Care-giving and care-receiving roles of nurses have different sets of expectations and behaviors. It is well, there, that members of the nursing profession begin systematically to clarify the diverse functions and cultural values related to the concepts of care, caring, and nursing care.
The concept of care is probably one of the least understood ideas used by professional and nonprofessional people, yet it is probably one of the most important concepts to be understood by human groups. It is a word with multiple social usages in the American culture, and has other meanings in other world cultures. The terms care, caring, and nursing care have both symbolic and functional meanings as they are used by caregivers and care-recipients. Nursing care also has a general, special meaning to nurses, and is often taken for granted in nurses' thoughts and action patterns. It is time that we study the implicit and explicit meanings associated with the concepts of care and caring so that we can reduce their ambiguities. Furthermore, the humanistic, scientific, and linguistic meanings related to nursing care and caring behaviors in any culture remain a most fascinating area of study for nurses.