Nursing as a Discipline, Profession, and Science

Discipline and a Profession

Discipline and profession are often used interchangeably and confused to mean the same thing. However, the two terms have different meanings even though they are interrelated. According to Alligood (2018), a discipline is mainly associated with academics where it refers to a knowledge domain, a learning department, or an education branch.  On the other hand, Alligood (2018), defines a profession as,“a specialized field of practice, founded upon the theoretical structure of the science or knowledge of that discipline and accompanying practice abilities” (p. 6).This means that discipline is the foundation of a profession.

Differences between a Discipline and a Profession

Several criteria distinguish discipline from a profession. The first distinction is the purpose. Alligood (2018), argues that a discipline aims at equipping one with knowledge and skills in a specific field of study such as the school of nursing, medicine, engineering, or law. On the other hand,a profession aims at practicing the knowledge acquired from a discipline such as a clinical nurse attending to a patient. It is also essential that all disciplines have theoretical knowledge. According to Alligood (2018), nurses began to acquire higher education such as baccalaureate in universities in the late twentieth century with the aim of learning to improve knowledge. This led to the development of more top degree programs in nursing such as masters that had a standardized curriculum.

Nursing as a Discipline and a Profession

Nursing is both a discipline and a profession. As a discipline, nursing involves academically concentrating on a specific domain of knowledge.This involves studying the health and environment of human beings that began after the introduction of a standardized nursing curriculum in the mid-twentieth century. Alligood (2018), argues that nursing is a discipline due to specific knowledge focussed on patients. Secondly, several nursing theories expound on nursing knowledge. According to Alligood (2018), the theoretical knowledge acquired in college is essential for individuals pursuing nursing. As a profession, Alligood (2018),identifies various criteria used for classification. Firstly, nursing practice involves the utilization of well-organized and specialized knowledge acquired through higher education. Secondly, it requires continuous improvement of knowledge and educational techniques through scientific methods. Thirdly, nursing practitioners are educated in institutions of higher learning only. The author adds that nursing knowledge is applied to improve human welfare. Besides, nursing practitioners get proper compensation to gain economic security and get an opportunity to grow their career in nursing.

Basic and Applied Science

Basic science involves acquiring fundamental scientific knowledge such as cell anatomy. On the other hand, applied science involves the application of the foundation of scientific knowledge.

Difference between Basic and Applied science

The difference between basic and applied science arises from their aims. Basic science aims to unearth and correctly understand problems; it involves a thorough understanding of the functioning mechanism of fundamental elements such as body cell. On the other hand, applied science aims to use scientific knowledge acquired to solveidentified problems. Basic science provides the workingbasis for applied science.

Nursing as a Science

According to Alligood (2018), scientists are confused about whether to categorize nursing as a basic or applied science. Nursing involves the application of the body of knowledge acquired through basic sciences such as cell anatomy to solve practical problems.Besides, it uses evidence-based practice through research to address health-related problems. Alligood (2018), argues that nursing theories provide the basis for nursing practice to solve health-related problems. Nursing is thus an applied science because it borrows basic science knowledge to address health-related issues with a focus on the patient.


Alligood, M. (2018).  Nursing theorists and their work. 9th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier

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