The connection between sociology and nursing covers a few key factors that help nurses integrate key sociological theories into their practice. One of the most important subject matters to directly impact the topic is an understanding of the difference between sociology in nursing and the sociology of nursing. After gaining an understanding of the difference in the two topics, the symbolic relationship between the disciplines is geared toward the application of sociology to nursing theory and practice. This relationship centers on developing skills that better enable nurses to deliver nursing care to patients, taking into account sociological forces that inherently affect patient care and recovery as well as for nurses delivering such care. Other key factors that connect sociology and nursing include providing a more robust framework for conducting nursing research and gaining a better understanding of the nursing field itself, particularly its role in healthcare.
Sociology of nursing focuses on the sociological factors that evolve from the practice of nursing. Such topics may include a nurse’s occupational concerns or turnover problems, which are commonly characteristic in the field or nursing. Rather, the focus is on the sociological attributes of nursing itself, while sociology in nursing focuses on the application of sociology tools and theories to nursing practice and research. While the two topics have a different focus, both form a crucial relationship with nursing, aimed at better enabling nurses to provide better patient care. Application is required to solidify this relationship, since sociology is of little or no use to nursing if the key findings are not further researched and then applied.
Research framework for sociology and nursing provides the first key link between the two disciplines. Defining sociology usually begins with an attempt to understand the social factors that affect a particular topic, or human social interactions at large. Thus, nursing itself takes place with a range of social interactions between nurses and patients and between nurses and other healthcare participants as well as between nurses and those outside the healthcare system who may have a stake in health-related outcomes, such as the relatives of a patient. Applying sociological research methods to nursing research and integrating sound sociological principles with nursing theory, can help researchers better understand relevant factors that impact nursing care. For example, better understanding how culture impacts a patient’s healthcare experience may help nurses better understand how to speed recovery, leading to the application of sociology and nursing.
Application of sociological principles and findings within the field of nursing — and in the practice of nursing — is the most obvious connection between the two disciplines. Nurses who have a solid understanding of sociology in nursing theory are often in a better position to understand the needs of their patients and how to best accommodate those needs from a social perspective. On the other hand, nursing administrators who have a good grasp in the sociology of nursing are better equipped to attend to factors that impact staff moral and the efficient allocation of nursing staff.