This article was last updated on July 14, 2017

Caring Science offers a unique holistic approach to nursing and the mindful delivery of authentic patient-centered care. Focused on healing-caring practices, the Theory of Human Caring, first developed between 1975 and 1979 by Dr. Jean Watson, forms the basis of the Nevada State College’s nursing curricula.

Theory Background

According to the Watson Caring Science Institute, the nonprofit organization formed by Dr. Watson in 2008 to educate others on the theory’s benefits, Caring Science “encompasses a humanitarian, human science orientation to human caring processes, phenomena and experiences.” It is an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates both the art and science of nursing and frequently utilizes concepts from the fields of philosophy, ethics, ecology and mind-body-spirit medicine, too.

Caring Science acknowledges the interconnectedness of the universe and teaches nurses to behave in harmony with not only their patients but also their surroundings, assuming a unitary worldview instead of one of separation. Also referred to as Transpersonal Caring, it is believed that the care nurses provide extends well beyond the patient. The initial patient-nurse interaction may eventually influence those close to the patient, the community, the world, the Earth and the universe.

While objective and empirical thought processes may dictate the coursework of many nursing programs, nurses participating in the Caring Science-based curriculum at Nevada State College acquire a deeper understanding of the human connection components of professional nursing. Reflection, interpretation and subjective evaluations of patients are encouraged and often used in addition to objective assessments. Nurses may also rely on personal intuition, visual, kinesthetic, and spiritual cues as well as a range of other techniques when anticipating patient needs and providing care.

As LaTricia Perry, director of Nevada State College’s School of Nursing, explained in an article by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “We want our students to meet their patients where they’re at and get back to connecting on a holistic, personalized basis as opposed to having someone just hooked to a machine.”

What Are the Core Principles and Concepts?

Caring Science operates under five core principles meant to move nurses from focusing solely on curing patients to instead helping care for patients more completely — mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically:

  • Practice of loving-kindness and equanimity.
  • Authentic presence to enable deep belief of other (patient, colleague, family, etc.).
  • Cultivation of one’s own spiritual practice toward wholeness of mind, body, spirit — beyond ego.
  • “Being” the caring-healing environment.
  • Allowing miracles (openness to the unexpected and inexplicable life events).

In addition, Dr. Watson developed the Caritas Processes, which convey how nurses can provide authentic healing-caring support for patients, communities and self.

The chart below, courtesy of the Watson Caring Science Institute, outlines this information in more detail.

Carative Factors Caritas Processes
1 Formation of Humanistic-altruistic system of values Practicing loving-kindness and equanimity within context of caring consciousness.
2 Instillation of faith-hope Being authentically present and enabling and sustaining the deep belief system of self and one being cared for.
3 Cultivation of sensitivity to oneself and others Cultivating one’s own spiritual practices and transpersonal self, going beyond ego self (working
from a more full consciousness of heart-centeredness — opening to all chakras).
4 Development of a helping-trusting
(human caring) relationship
Developing and sustaining helping-trusting authentic caring relationships.
5 Promotion and acceptance of
the expression of positive and
negative feelings
Being present to, and supportive of, the expression of positive and negative feelings as a connection
with deeper spirit of self and the one being cared for.
6 Systematic use of the scientific
problem-solving method of decision-making
Creatively using self and all ways of knowing as part of the caring processes; engaging in artistry of
caring-healing practices.
7 Promoting interpersonal teaching-learning Engaging in genuine teaching-learning experiences that attend to unity of being and meaning, attempting to stay within another’s frame of reference.
8 Provision for a supportive,
protective, and/or corrective
mental, physical, sociocultural, and spiritual environment
Creating healing environment at all levels (physical, non-physical, subtle environment of energy
and consciousness), whereby wholeness, beauty, comfort, dignity, and peace are potentiated.
9 Assistance with gratification of human needs Reverently and respectfully assisting with basic needs, with an intentional caring consciousness, administering “human care essentials,” which potentiate alignment of mind-body-spirit, wholeness and unity of being in all aspects of care; (allowing for spirit-filled connection).
10 Allowance for existential-phenomenological-spiritual forces Opening and attending to spiritual-mysterious, and
unknown existential dimensions of one’s own life-death-suffering; soul care for self and the one being cared for; “allowing for a miracle.”

The Future of Caring Science

As the healthcare industry continues to shift toward patient-centered care, nurses who develop a strong understanding of Watson’s Theory of Human Caring are positioned to thoughtfully lead the delivery of intentional and authentic nursing practice within the dynamic and rapidly changing health care system. With an education and a practice rooted in compassionate care and healing of the mind, body, spirit, and soul, nurses, who ground their practice in Caring Science, may find distinct career advantages such as advancement and leadership opportunities as well as experience transformational shifts in their art and practice of professional nursing.

Learn more about the Nevada State online RN to BSN program.


Watson Caring Science Institute: Caring Science Theory

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Nevada State College emphasizes caring in revamped nursing curriculum

Watson Caring Science Institute: Core Concepts of Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring/Caring Science