Application: Systems Theory Sample Essay

To prepare:

Review the Meyer article, “Nursing Services Delivery Theory: An Open System Approach,” in this week’s Learning Resources. Focus especially on the information presented in Table 1 (p. 2831) and Figure 2 (p. 2833).

Reflect on your organization or one with which you are familiar. Within a particular department or unit in this organization, identify a problem the staff is encountering Application: Systems Theory Sample Essay.

Using Table 1 in the Meyer article as a guide, analyze the department or unit, identifying inputs, throughput, output, cycles of events, and negative feedback. Consider whether the problem you have selected relates to input, throughput, output, cycles of events, and/or negative feedback.

Think about how you could address the problem: Consider what a desired outcome would be, then formulate related goals and objectives, and translate those goals into policies and procedures.

Research professional standards that are pertinent to your identified problem.


Reflect on the organization’s mission statement and values. In addition, consider how addressing this problem would uphold the mission and values, while improving the organizational culture and climate. (Depending on the organization you have selected, you may have explored these in the Week 1 Discussion.)

To complete:

Write a 3- to 5-page paper (page count does not include title and reference page) that addresses the following:

Describe a department or unit within a health care organization using systems theory terminology. Include a description of inputs, throughput, output, cycles of events, and negative feedback.

Describe the problem you identified within the department or unit using an open- systems approach, and state where the problem exists using the systems theory model (input, throughput, output, cycles of events, or negative feedback).

Based on this information, explain how you would address the problem as follows:

Formulate a desired outcome.

Identify goals and objectives that would facilitate that outcome.

Translate those goals and objectives into policies and procedures for the department or unit.

Describe relevant professional standards.

Explain how your proposed resolution to the problem would uphold the organization’s mission and values and improve the culture and climate.


Systems theory refers to the multidisciplinary analysis of an organization by applying an abstract approach for its temporal and spatial scales, type, and substance. In fact, it shies away from reductionism so that a comprehensive understanding is gained while considering the details. The theory includes information, goal orientation, hierarchy, state, process, output, input, and boundary (Meyer & O’Brien-Pallas, 2010). The present paper evaluates a nursing environment using the systems theory with the focus on how principles and concepts of organization aggregate to provide nursing care Application: Systems Theory Sample Essay.


Part 1. Describing the department using systems theory terminology to include a description of inputs, throughput, output, cycles of events, and negative feedback

As a nurse, I am employed in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a high acuity critical care facility in the Midwest. The ICU offers intensive treatment services for patients requiring critical care. To carry out the function of offering intensive treatment for critical care patients, the department has employed a team comprised of different medical professions to include doctors, nurses, surgeons, and so on. The team works in concert to offer critical care while ensuring that patients receive the best possible care and experience speedy recovery despite medical resource limitations. That is to say that the ICU facilitates patients’ care by spending resources on wages and equipment. As a result, the resources, equipment and medical personnel (identified through their wages) act as the input for the ICU. Besides that, the intensive treatment services offered to manage critical care patients acts as the throughput since the inputs are applied on the services. Understandably, the number of patients who pass through the ICU acts as the output, since this is the number that receives the medical services within the unit. Given that the facility, and by extension the ICU, is profit oriented, then the profits and revenues would act as the cycle of events. The performance indicators that include how patients rate the unit and the services offered would act as the feedback with any malcontent or subpar performance indicating negative feedback (Meyer & O’Brien-Pallas, 2010).


Part 2. Describing the problem using an open- systems approach, and stating where the problem exists using the systems theory model

Although the ICU exhibits an intention and dedication to offering high-quality intensive treatment services to the critical care patients, their efforts have been difficult to evaluate. In fact, this is true for pain management where correct evaluation and management has not been realized. The result is patients complaining about pain going on to indicate that the applied efforts are inadequate thus giving the department a negative feedback. This has resulting in the unit presenting less than favorable performance indicators since there is a shortfall and disconnect between what the unit delivers and what patients expect with regards to pain management (Meyer & O’Brien-Pallas, 2010). Marquis and Huston (2017) explain that the disconnect between patients expectations and what medical facilities deliver is not unique to any single facility. This is particularly true for pain management since medical personnel will only register approximately 20% of the required assessment information to imply that 80% of the information is ignored and lost. This implies that to address the disconnect, there is a need to develop and apply assessment strategies that can register the previously lost 80% information along with the 20% information that is typically collected. This statement is true for the ICU that loses pain assessment information resulting in ineffective pain management. To address this concern, there is a need to apply assertive strategies that would note the totality of information from all sources before identifying the prevailing themes representative of the patient’s situation. The assertive approach is particularly useful for nurses who are most involved in pain assessment within the ICU (Marquis & Huston, 2017).

Part 3. Explaining

Desired outcome

The problem has been identified as ineffective pain management in the ICU. The problem has been caused by ineffective pain assessment strategies since only 20% of the requirement information is collected while 80% is lost. The desired outcome is to improve pain management in the ICU by collecting all the information requirement for pain assessment to facilitate better decision-making during management.

Goal and objective that will facilitate the desired outcome

The goal is to improve patient feedback so that they continue patronizing the facility to guarantee increased revenues and profits. As things stand, there is a negative feedback from ICU patients who complain that they suffer unnecessary pain. This means that the current pain management strategies are ineffective. Improving the pain management strategies would turn the negative feedback into positive feedback Application: Systems Theory Sample Essay.

Translating the goal and objective into policies and procedures for the department

The translation will take the form of collecting correct pain information by actively engaging the patients to understand what they feel. This will ensure that all the required information is collected for assessment. In addition, it would require developing a solution in order of priority that could be drug interactions, adverse reactions, addictive effects, and costs. Besides that, the situation should be reviewed regularly to update the department’s procedures and standards (Pope & Deer, 2017).

Describing the relevant professional standards

Even as the pain management strategies are revised with the focus on improving pain assessment, the medical staff engaged in the ICU will not shift focus from improving the patients’ experiences. This means that any activity beyond the scope of the multidisciplinary team engaged in the unit will be referred to the appropriate personnel for further action. Besides that, the ICU staff will be subjected to additional training on pain assessment and management to improve their performance and outcomes. To be more concise, the teams will establish a pain assessment and management baseline that represents the desired outcome, determine the disconnect between current and desired performance, establish strategies to address the disconnect, and implement the most appropriate strategy to achieve the desired outcomes in terms of better pain assessment and management that cause the patients to provide a positive feedback (Cherry & Jacob, 2013).

Explaining how the proposed resolution to the problem would uphold the organization’s mission and values and improve the culture and climate

Better pain assessment and management will ensure that patients in the ICU do not complain about unaddressed pain. This will improve their satisfaction levels, causing them to provide positive feedbacks and continue to patronize the facility even as they recommend it to others (Pope & Deer, 2017). The increased number of patients improves revenue and profit, an objective that is in line with the facility’s identity as a profit oriented organization Application: Systems Theory Sample Essay.


System theory is presented as a tool for conducting an organization analysis without regard for its discipline. This is seen in the present case that identifies personnel and equipment as input, intensive treatment services as throughput, number of patients as output, profits and revenues as the cycle of events, performance reviews as the feedback. In this case, the problem in the ICU is identified using the systems theory model as ineffective pain assessment that only collects 20% of the required information. It is projected that this concern could be addressed through applying assertive strategies that collect all the required information. The desired outcome is to collect all the required information, with the goal being to improve patient feedback. Translating the goal into outcome takes the form of actively engaging the patients to understand what they feel. Ultimately, improving pain assessment will improve management and the patients’ feedback so that they continue patronizing the facility to increase revenue and profits.


Cherry, B. & Jacob, S. (2013). Contemporary Nursing, Issues, Trends, & Management, 6th ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Marquis, B. L. & Huston, C. J. (2017). Leadership roles and management functions in nursing: theory and application (9th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.

Meyer, R. & O’Brien-Pallas, L. (2010). Nursing Services Delivery Theory: An open system approach. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 66(12), 2828-2838.

Pope, J. & Deer, T. (2017). Treatment of Chro

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