What is a Philosophy of Nursing | Principles and Examples

A nursing philosophy is a personal perspective about one’s beliefs, purpose, and goals toward nursing education and practice.

Essentially, it forms how a person perceives their profession of nursing personally, and it drives their behaviors.

It also gives students and professionals a meaningful reason for their actions and participation in nursing.

This article explores the meaning of nursing philosophy and provides examples to understand this topic better.

In addition, I’ve included a section on how to write a personal philosophy of nursing to simplify the process.

Understanding Nursing Philosophy’s

Nursing is a way to help others achieve better health and save lives through science, physiology, and psychology.

It comprises nurse educators, emergency room nurses, mental health nurses, neonatal care units, and other specialties.

A nursing philosophy benefits any profession involving direct patient care, healthcare, or mental well-being.

For some, nursing carries a deeper spiritual meaning that extends beyond medicine, physiology, and psychology.

It may include nurses who practice holistic care and alternative medicine.

In this case, a nurse’s philosophy centers on their beliefs, emotions, and religion and thus plays a direct role in their care.

Holistic care and alternative medicine differ from traditional western practices and methodologies.

It enables nurses to provide an alternate approach to patient care and medicine.

Accordingly, these nurses utilize holistic/alternative strategies to deliver restorative care to their patients.

For others, nursing represents a connection to previous generations of family and their contributions to nursing.

From this perspective, working as a nurse shows respect for previous generations of nurses within a family.

Their nursing philosophy symbolizes their family’s values, education, academic lifestyle, beliefs, and choices.

In other words, the family’s particular nursing philosophy, actions, and behaviors remain constant across generations.

Becoming a nurse may also signify prestige, accomplishment, and family-oriented success.

Overall, nursing philosophy encompasses one’s beliefs, attitudes, actions, hopes, dreams, and desires.

It drives the person’s ethical behaviors to which the particular philosophy belongs.

Thus, it’s a vital component of nursing practice because it profoundly influences patient care practices.

It also impacts the nurses’ mental, emotional, and physical health who holds a particular nursing philosophy.

How to Write a Philosophy of Nursing

Developing a personal philosophy of nursing requires careful thought, consideration, and sentiment.

There is no one perfect nursing philosophy that encompasses everyone’s desires, actions, and opinions.

As a result, it’s essential to spend time contemplating your values, beliefs, and purpose regarding nursing.

The following section explores several essential questions to help you establish a personal nursing philosophy.

Questions to Establish Your Philosophy:

  1. Why do I want to become a nurse?
  2. Why is nursing important to me?
  3. What are my strengths as a nurse?
  4. What qualities make me a great nurse?
  5. How will my efforts influence patient care?
  6. What nursing skills and values are essential to me?
  7. How will my work improve my community and society?
  8. How will my actions as a nurse enhance my coworkers’ lives?

When writing your nursing philosophy, start with your reasons for becoming a nurse.

It enables you to assess and evaluate your values, beliefs, and goals.

As a result, you’ll establish a basis of meaning to act as a moral compass and give your profession purpose. 

Next, consider how you’ll affect patient care, the community, society, and your coworkers as a nurse.

The nursing profession is profoundly interconnected and interpersonal.

Therefore, it’s vital to understand how you impact others and how your beliefs drive your actions.

The following section breaks down four essential areas of nursing philosophy.

It includes your values/beliefs, impact on patient care, effects on the community/society, and your role as a team member.

Accordingly, it helps you develop a philosophy that encompasses the aspects of nursing you impact directly and indirectly.

Your Values and Beliefs

A nursing philosophy starts with one’s values, beliefs, and goals about nursing and their roles as healthcare professionals.

Therefore, it’s essential to understand what nursing means to you and why you chose to become a nurse.

Some values may include helping people through their healing process and supporting concerned family members.

It may also include treating people with empathy, respect, inclusion, and honesty regardless of their actions or background.

Alternatively, nurse educators may value providing students with careful instruction, engagement, and support.

They may also value communication, participation, organization, time management, empathy, inclusion, and diversity.

Each profession requires values, beliefs, and goals to establish meaning and purpose that drives actionable behaviors.

How You Impact Patient Care

Every action you take as a nurse impacts the care of your patients.

And your beliefs and values directly influence your actions.

Therefore, it’s beneficial to evaluate how your thoughts, beliefs, and behavior affect the lives of those you serve.

Consider how you’ll impact patient care as a nurse and how your decisions drive each interaction and treatment.

As a result, you’ll have a better understanding of the impact you have on those around you.

Use this knowledge to reevaluate your thoughts and behaviors to determine whether they serve you and your patients.

The more you understand how your beliefs and actions affect patient care, the more meaningful your interactions become.

How You Affect the Community and Society

Nursing extends well beyond direct patient care.

It also affects the communities you serve and society as a whole.

Every life you impact and return to society is forever changed, and it’s your job to help them leave better than they came. 

As a nurse, you provide medical care to patients daily to keep them safe, healthy, and well.

You also provide education, emotional support, and meaning to every patient and family member in the hospital or clinic.

As a result, your beliefs, decisions, behaviors, and actions, directly and indirectly, impact the community.

Consider how your thoughts, ideas, feelings, and actions improve the communities you serve and their impact on society.

You are much more than a healthier professional who treats patients.

You’re the passionate, knowledgeable, and supportive lifeline for those around you.

Your Role as a Team Member and Leader

As part of a medical team, you have countless opportunities to support your coworkers.

As a result, it’s essential to evaluate your role and the impact of your decisions.

There are many ways you can support your coworkers and make a difference in your profession.

For instance, you can offer support, assist with specific tasks, provide education, and take a leadership role.

You can also become a mentor to nursing students or new professionals.

Accordingly, you’ll want to consider how your values, beliefs, and actions improve your colleagues’ lives.

Fundamental Steps to Develop Your Philosophy:

  • Identify your reasons for becoming a nurse
  • List your strengths and skills
  • Outline your values and beliefs
  • Identify how you’ll impact patient care, the community, and society
  • Keep your ideology simple, direct, actionable, and meaningful
  • Reexamine your nursing philosophy regularly

How a Nursing Philosophy Helps Your Career

Your nursing philosophy guides your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as a nurse.

As a result, it’s essential to develop powerful principles that keep you motivated and focused in challenging times.

It helps your profession by ensuring you keep patient care and mental health a priority at all times.

It also provides a reminder of why you became a nurse and the impact you have on the lives of others.

A powerful nursing philosophy integrates your identity, strengths, and activities in every aspect of your career.

Therefore, it propels you to create better healthcare practices, systems, and outcomes and lead a more meaningful life.

Nurses with strong philosophies perform better, pursue more career advancement opportunities and earn more money.

They also contribute to education, research, mentorship, leadership, science, and the communities they serve.

Why a Nursing Philosophy is Essential

A strong nursing philosophy ensures healthcare specialists remain committed, goal-oriented, and motivated.

It’s imperative during challenging times, like when nurses experience burnout. 

Without a nursing philosophy, one’s purpose as a nurse may waver.

For instance, a lack of a meaningful perspective may lower commitment, drive, and attitudes towards their profession.

Some nurses may even quit their jobs due to a deficiency of importance and purpose.

There is no one philosophy of nursing that adequately fits every nurse’s identity and values.

However, maintaining a powerful nursing philosophy establishes a sound basis of beliefs and meaning.

It enables nurses to provide essential care and remain connected to their purpose regardless of their challenges.

Each nurse represents their philosophy differently.

As a result, developing a personal nursing philosophy that encompasses your values is necessary.

It helps you to understand your reason for being a nurse and your impact on patients, the community, and the healthcare specialists you serve.