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The difference between nursing theory and the nursing conceptual model is theory is defined according to Thompson (2017), “Nursing theory describes what nurses do and what outcomes can be expected as a result.” The conceptual model is the visual framework, allowing the interpretation of the concept or theory.

VirginiaHenderson, was an educator who developed the need theory. She was very much compared to that of Florence Nightingale, of modern nursing. Her theory is explained as the “importance of increasing the patient’s independence so that progress after hospitalization would not be delayed” (Ahtisham & Jacoline, 2015).

An example Henderson’s theory in nursing practice would be that of a patient diagnosed with heart failure after a heart attack. During discharge the nurse would instruct the patient about a heart healthy diet, weighing himself daily, taking medications as prescribed, and when to notify his physician. The patient is then independent with his care at home. And he has been given the tools for disease management.


Ahtisham Y, Jacoline S. Integrating Nursing Theory and Process into Practice; Virginia’s Henderson Need Theory. International Journal of Caring Sciences. 2015;8(2):443-450. Accessed October 8, 2018.

Cathy J Thompson, C.T. (2017, 14th February). Nursing Education Expert In Pursuit of Nursing Excellence. [Weblog]. Retrieved 8 October 2018, from…