Every discipline has its philosophical foundation, and nursing is no different. Philosophy attempts to answer the questions of what nursing is, why it exists, and what ethics and values underpin these beliefs. Inherent in any nursing philosophy is how man is conceptualized. If you are new to nursing philosophy, this is where I would recommend you begin in identifying your own philosophy of nursing.
Nursing philosophy, like any other discipline-specific philosophy, is what directs and drives research and knowledge development to advance the discipline. Philosophy, then, articulates the core beliefs of a discipline and defines the boundaries of what we want to know about our discipline.
Your personal nursing philosophy is not your treatise on why you want to be a nurse. It is not a statement about what nurses do in context of health and illness. If that is where you’re at right now, you need to drop down a level, because what nursing “looks like” must be undergirded by why it should look like that (whatever “that” is). You are trying to explain to someone else why nursing exists. Go deeper than the superficiality of “nursing helps people maintain health” or “nurses alleviate suffering”. Incessantly ask yourself “why”. Get past the superficial.
Philosophy is formed from intuitions and beliefs about the way life should be and why you think it should be that way. You should consider the following questions when you write your personal nursing philosophy:
1. What is the purpose of man’s life? Why do you believe what you believe?
2. Why do people value health? How does health relate to man’s purpose?
3. How does illness interfere with our purpose in life? Or does it?
4. How do you define health? How is that related to your idea of man’s purpose in life?
5. What do you believe about the community of man? What are our social obligations to our fellow man? Why?
6. Is “health” a right? Or is it an ideal? Is medical care a right? Or is it an ideal?
7. By now you should have an idea about what ethical values you think should be held by nurses. Again, this is related to your concept of humanity and our purpose in life.
8. If you get stuck anywhere along the way, keep asking yourself “Why do I believe this?” and you’ll eventually get there, though it can be mind-boggling at times. You’ll find that your answers always revolve around values and morals and purpose. That’s why it’s important to know what you believe and why. Keep asking these questions of yourself.
By working through these questions you will arrive at how nursing fits into your philosophy of man, because your philosophy will reflect what you believe about yourself, and it should also lead you to why you chose nursing as a profession.
Philosophy can be intimidating, but it is just a fancy term for your beliefs and your justification of those beliefs. Good luck! Email me with your questions. I’d also love to read your philosophy! firstname.lastname@example.org