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Personal Philosophy of Nursing

Kendra Jackson

Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing

March 20, 2017

I pledge

Personal Philosophy of Nursing

The term nursing cannot be summarized using one word or statement. According to the

American Nursing Association, nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health

and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and

treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities,

and populations (What is Nursing?, n.d.). I personally define nursing as the art of providing

care, communication, and support holistically to those who are in need by someone who is

physically and mentally committed to those needs by action and effort. I also believe nursing is a

science requiring extensive knowledge of the human body. Each nurse has his or her own reasons

for choosing nursing as a profession, and each nurse practices nursing in his or her own unique

way. A philosophy of nursing provides a basis for the thinking and acting of the profession by

stating a nurses personal beliefs and values. Throughout this paper I will describe what a

philosophy of nursing is, explain my values and beliefs, share my personal philosophy of

nursing, and relate my experiences to Benners Stages of Clinical Competence.

What is a Philosophy of Nursing?

Philosophy has been defined in a number of ways. Some describe philosophy abstractly

as a way of thinking, while others believe it is an activity or practice performed throughout

everyday life. I believe that philosophy involves both mental and physical components. A

personal philosophy of nursing begins with the mental or thinking aspect by establishing beliefs

and values that guide how a person lives. This part of the philosophy is very intangible and

abstract. The physical or acting aspect of philosophy is demonstrated by a persons actions.

These specific actions are carried out based on the beliefs and values that were established.

To develop a philosophy of nursing, one has to first express the beliefs and values that

govern his or her actions in the profession. My philosophy of nursing is guided by my definition

of nursing an art of providing care, communication, and support holistically to those in need by

someone who is physically and mentally committed by action and effort to their needs. Nursing

is also scientifically-based with the need for extensive knowledge of the human body.

Developing a philosophy of nursing is essential to my understanding of nursing as my chosen

profession. By creating my personal philosophy, I am able to clarify my values and beliefs and

then examine how my philosophy fits with and shapes my professional practice as a nurse.

Values and Beliefs

According to Merriam-Webster Online, a value is defined as a principle or quality

intrinsically valuable or desirable (Value, n.d.). The same website defines belief as a state or

habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing (Belief, n.d.).

Although both values and beliefs guide actions, attitudes, and behaviors, they represent different

things. Beliefs are basically assumptions that we make about the world and our values stem

from those beliefs (Difference Between Values and Beliefs, 2011). My values and beliefs

have been largely shaped by my culture, upbringing, faith, and life experiences. My values and

beliefs play a major role in my relationship with and treatment of patients.

My Personal Philosophy

For most of my life I dreamed of becoming a physician and I had it all planned. I was

going to earn an undergraduate degree in biology, attend a major medical school, get my white

coat, treat my patients, and make plenty of money. Although I had aspirations of becoming a

well-respected physician, I was going about it for all the wrong reasons. After shadowing some

doctors at a local hospital during my senior year of college, I noticed that I was more intrigued

by the nurses station. The nurses seemed to be the true nurturers and caregivers in that setting.

They spent the most time with the patients, answered the patients questions, and provided most

the patients needs. From that moment on, I was sold on nursing as a profession. I wanted to

make a difference in someones life, and I thought nursing would give me a better chance of

accomplishing that goal. My personal nursing philosophy was shaped by this experience and

many others. I used this new outlook to aid in the reflection on my values in relation to nursing.

I value the integrity of nursing. The integrity of nursing includes honesty, honor and

reliability. I believe that honesty can only benefit the patient and nurse. Honesty involves telling

the truth, even when the truth may be unpopular. Dishonesty in the nursing profession can be

detrimental by destroying the nurse-patient relationship. I also value advocacy. Advocacy does

not only pertain to the patient but also the nurse; it also includes standing up for his or her

personal beliefs. Nursing has made tremendous progress as a respected profession, and I believe

this is because past nurses advocated for their causes when faced with adversity.

I value dependability. Dependability can be expressed in the simplest way. For example,

dependability is communicated when bringing a cup of water that you as the nurse promised a

patient. Support is also an important value. Support involves more than just the nurse and

patient; support should come from all members of the health care team. Support should be given

interchangeably to the nurse, patient, family, and other healthcare providers.

Professionalism affects the respect that one receives in any profession, but most

importantly: nursing. Professionalism demonstrates that a person takes pride in what he or she

does. Professionalism is not dictated or established just by what somebody is wearing, but by his

or her attitude, actions and presence towards others. Holistic care is very important to me. I

believe that integrity, advocacy, dependability, support, and professionalism are all components

of holistic care. Holistic care embodies the whole individual: physically, emotionally, spiritually,

and culturally.

I apply these values in the care of each individual patient, but more specifically I have

applied them in detail during my clinical immersion on the oncology unit at Memorial Regional

Medical Center. In this setting, I am able to develop deeper connections with some patients by

being their nurse over several shifts. One night I was assigned a patient that was suffering from

prostate cancer that had metastasized throughout his body. His body appeared cachexic and very

frail. He was guarding his right humerus due to intense pain. He also had a dressing covering a

stage IV pressure ulcer on his sacrum that he refused to have changed. The patient was very

reluctant and unwilling to be moved or turned. He was essentially dropped off by family

members in the emergency room as his pain increased and his condition started to decline. He

moved to Virginia only days prior from Mississippi to be closer to his extended family.

When I entered the patients room, I introduced myself before performing my assessment.

I made sure to ensure that we would take everything at his pace. He thanked me for my patience,

but when I asked if I could assist in turning him he refused. I informed him of the benefits of

turning but respected his right to refuse. As I continued my assessment, I observed a withdrawn

and painful grimace on his face. He told me that he was in constant, intense pain. After

completing a pain assessment, I made sure to administer his pain medications as often as I could,

always assessing their effectiveness at controlling his pain. After administering every possible

dose of PRN and scheduled pain medication, I literally felt helpless. It was difficult to watch his

pain continue with little to no relief.

With the guidance of my preceptor, I concluded this patient was suitable for a PCA pump.

The scheduled and PRN doses of pain medications were not sufficient enough to control the

intense, widespread pain caused by the cancer. Due to the extensiveness of his pain, I felt this

was the only suitable option for pain management. As the shift change approached, my preceptor

suggested that I include this in a nursing note in the patients record. In the note, I detailed my

efforts at pain control. I also described the patients constant guarded demeanor and suggested

the physician consider this patient for a PCA pump. Although I didnt know if the physician

would even consider my suggestion, I felt relieved that my input may help improve the patients


When I came back the following week, I noticed the patient was now equipped with a

PCA pump. I am not saying that my suggestion alone convinced the physician, but I do believe

he was made more aware of the patients needs due to my nursing note. When I entered his room

this time, I was greeted with a much more relaxed and comfortable patient. I was even told he

was able to tolerate more attempts at turning. I used the values of integrity, advocacy,

dependability, support, professionalism, and holistic care to help relieve my patient of chronic

cancer pain. I believe that because of this he was able to die more comfortably and with dignity. I

will never forget how my care, guided by my values, may have impacted his last days.

My beliefs about nursing guide how I practice nursing as a profession. I believe nursing

is and should always be patient-centered. A patients needs should always come first. I believe

nursing is a profession, not a job. A job is temporary and involves simply receiving

compensation for completing tasks; a career involves passion and complete involvement in the

profession. A career is not only your present, but also your future.

I believe nursing is a lifelong learning experience, and true nurses never stop learning. I

believe nursing is and should be one of the most respected professions in existence. Nursing

cannot be compared to any other profession. To elaborate on the uniqueness of nursing, I believe

a nurse has to be a special type of person. I believe a nurse should be unconsciously nurturing.

The nurse is there to touch a patients life during a very vulnerable time. I believe the nurse

should be full of patience, compassion, and knowledge. The nurse combines science and

technology with people skills such as communication, problem solving, and educating. I believe

the nurse is someone that cares about the overall well-being of a person. The backbone of the

hospital, physician, patient and family is the nurse.

My values and beliefs have only strengthened as I have gained more clinical experience. I

foresee them being further validated as I continue my career. However, I have realized that not

every nurse shares or practices using the same set of values or beliefs. Some nurses are task-

oriented and see nursing as a job. The drive and commitment they may have once had for the

profession has now dwindled. They are burned out and lack the compassion it takes to truly

connect with their patients. Unfortunately, some values cannot be taught. I hope these nurses

discover a facet of nursing that once again ignites a passion for the profession. As I become more

experienced, I plan to routinely reflect on how my actions align with my values and beliefs. I

will also remain open to revising my personal philosophy as my experiences shape my


Benners Stages of Clinical Competence

Patricia Benner describes her nursing theory in the book From Novice to Expert:

Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing Practice. Benner distinguishes five levels of nursing

experience: novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert (2001, p. 21-36). A

novice nurse is an inexperienced beginner whose actions are rule-governed and task-specific. An

advanced beginner nurse has gained some experience and begins to develop principles to guide

actions. A competent nurse usually has 2-3 years of experience, is more of aware of long-term

goals, and plans actions on the basis of conscious and analytical thinking. A proficient nurse

thinks more wholly and holistically by applying knowledge from previous experiences to

improve decision making. The expert nurse has extensive experience and is highly proficient.

The expert nurse is more flexible because he or she no longer relies on principles in

understanding and determining his or her actions. Benners Stages of Clinical Competence

explain that expert nurses develop skills and knowledge about patient care over time and through


Currently, I would describe myself as an advanced beginner nurse. As I complete my

hours of clinical immersion, I am working towards an overall goal of being able to recognize

important changes in patient status and prioritize patient care. For example, I want to be able to

identify the changes in a diabetic patient as her blood glucose lowers an d know policies on how

to correct it. However, I sometimes find myself struggling with priority setting when I am

assigned a full patient load. In these situations, I find having a preceptor very helpful. I often will

stop to reflect on my actions with my preceptor to focus on things I could have done differently

with a patient. Having a more competent nurse there to support me reinforces my learning and

ensures the safety of my patients. At this point in my nursing school career, I think I am exactly

where I am supposed to be.

In order to reach the competent stage, there a few things I must accomplish. First, I need

more nursing experience and exposure to patient care. I plan on gaining this experience in my

new graduate nurse position on the Intermediate Care Unit at St. Marys Hospital. I feel this unit

will provide me with the opportunity to learn, practice, and enhance my clinical and analytical

skills as a new nurse. I think this role will ultimately prepare me for my dream job as an

intensive care unit nurse. Next, I will need to develop a plan to prioritize daily patient care. For

example, I will organize my day with specific tasks and goals I want to accomplish with my

patients before even entering the room to receive report. Having an idea about how the day will

flow will help me to feel more prepared; however, I will also need to remain flexible to the

unknown that may occur. Finally, I will maintain my dedication as a critically reflective

clinician. Currently, I am asked to reflect to about my clinical experiences as a student nurse.

Reflection allows me to learn from my experiences, actively think, and question the meaning of

situations. As a professional nurse, I feel dedicating time to reflect on work will have a positive

effect on my performance by allowing me to brainstorm ways to improve patient care.


In conclusion, I have described what a philosophy of nursing is, explained my values and

beliefs, shared my personal philosophy of nursing, and related my experiences to Benners

Stages of Clinical Competence. A philosophy of nursing cannot just be words written on a piece

of paper. A personal philosophy should be performed in day-to-day encounters, involving both

thinking and acting. My philosophy of nursing is fashioned by the values and beliefs I have

about nursing but also by the way I apply those values and beliefs into action. I believe nursing is

the art of providing care, communication, and support holistically to those who are in need by

someone who is physically and mentally committed to those needs by action and effort. I believe

nursing also is a science requiring extensive knowledge of the human body. By establishing a

personal philosophy, situations that challenge my beliefs and values can be faced head-on. As I

progress in my nursing education and career, my personal philosophy will continue to evolve,

change, and expand based on my experiences.



Belief. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-


Benner, P. (2001). From novice to expert: Excellence and power in clinical nursing practice.

Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Health.

Difference Between Values and Beliefs. (2011). DifferenceBetween.net. Retrieved

from http://www.differencebetween.net/language/difference-between-values-and-beliefs/

What is Nursing?. (n.d.). What is Nursing?. Retrieved from


Value. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-


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