Sociology, the study of human social behavior and interaction, has become a component of many nursing education programs because it is believed that undertaking formal study of human behavior can assist nurses in providing care and performing thorough diagnosis. Incorporating sociology into the study of nursing emphasizes the social nature of health care and helps nurses understand their role as a social agents whose job requires interaction with and understanding of many different types of people from a variety of different backgrounds. Interpersonal care can be an essential part of a nurse's role as a health care provider, and the study of sociology is believed to help nurses gain new insight into their patients lives and issues.
The study of sociology may be particularly applicable to certain areas of nursing, such as mental health or psychiatric nursing. Sociology has become such an important part of nursing study that some nursing schools, such as the School of Nursing at the University of California in San Francisco, offer specific courses of study in sociology. At UCSF, the School of Nursing offers a sociology Ph.D. program that focuses on the sociology of health care, and it has areas of concentration that include race, class, gender and health inequality.