Political systems, social systems, organizational systems, health care systems, the solar system are familiar terms that are used freely in everyday conversations or in professional discussions. We understand the word system in terms of sets of things or objects, together with relationships between the things or objects in the sets and between their properties or attributes. The things or objects in the set(s) behave together as a whole, and changes in any part, including changes in the properties of the parts, affect the whole. Although the word system connotes things in relationships, the tendency is to focus on the functioning of the whole that is the system.
When existent systems do not function at all or are not functioning according to expectations, interest turns to the things that constitute the parts, the properties, or attributes of these things and to the relationships among them. To find out why an existent system does not work or to understand an existent system it is necessary to engage in analysis. To produce or make a system the producer must engage in synthesis to select and to bring appropriate parts together in functional relationships. To identify the parts that can and should be brought together, the producer engages in analysis of the situation(s) of action to determine the presence of essential parts in time-space localizations, and the properties of parts or the absence of parts, but the producer must also have practical insight
This paper was originally presented at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Newark, N.J. April
[Ed. Note: The content included in the sections titled “An Analysis of the Theory of Nursing
Systems” and “Results of Nursing” is taken in part from the paper “A Nursing Practice Theory
in Three Parts, 1956–1989,” presented on April 8, 1989, in Miami, Florida, at the First South
Florida Nursing Theorist Conference, Cedars Medical Center, Education Department. See Orem,
1990 in references.]