Individual Philosophy of a Nurse Abstract Before we can answer the question, “What is your own personal nursing philosophy? ” we must first understand what philosophy means. “The term philosophy comes from the Greek and means “love of wisdom” (Benner & Wrubel, 1989, p. 27). Philosophy examines ideas in terms of its origins as well as assumptions about why things are. Blais and Hayes define nursing philosophy as, “a concept that looks at the nature of things and aims to provide the meaning of nursing phenomena” (Blais & Hayes, 2011, p. 8). So why define nursing philosophy? When defining nursing philosophy, we attempt to gain understanding as to what it is to be a nurse as well as understand the knowledge required. Benner and Wrubel state, Why philosophy? Because theories of nursing practice, of stress and coping, and of health and illness, whether they are formal or informal theories, are all based on assumptions about what it is to be a nurse, that is, on assumptions about being, knowing and knowledge. Benner & Wrubel, 1989, p. 28) In describing my own nursing philosophy, I will introduce my experience as a nurse, give my own definition of nursing, discuss my own values and beliefs that are the foundation of my nursing philosophy and conclude with what I believe the future of nursing will be. Individual Philosophy of a Nurse I have been an RN-ADN since 1997 when I graduated Phi Theta Kappa. Once I graduated, I travelled a lot as a nurse while my husband was in the US Navy.
I spent two years in psych nursing working with children, a short stent in med-surgical nursing, and five years as a per-diem RN working between pediatrics and labor and delivery at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital and then worked at Eastern Maine Medical Center as a charge nurse in the emergency room and walk-in-care for the past seven years. In October, I was forced to exit my position as a full time nurse due to caring for my father on extended FMLA. I am currently concentrating on finishing my BSN and plan to return to a new position once I am finished.
I feel that with my 16 years of nursing experience ranging from staff nurse, charge nurse and nurse educator, I will find a fitting position without difficulty. When defining nursing, I compared Florence Nightingale’s definition to that of Virginia Henderson. As one of the earliest nursing theorists, Nightingale defined nursing in Blais & Hayes (2011) as “utilizing the environment of the patient to assist him in his recovery” (p. 100) and her theory focuses more on the ill patient.
Henderson however, focuses on the healthy and the ill patient and defines the function of nursing as, The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will, or knowledge, and to do this in such a way as to help him gain independence as rapidly as possible. (Blais & Hayes, 2011, p. 00) I agree with Henderson’s definition of nursing and would claim my own definition of nursing to be similar. I would define a nurse as a caring individual that agrees to be a caregiver. A nurse needs to be a partner with the patient and their family, an assistant to the patient and when necessary, a substitute for the patient when they are unable to care for themselves in meeting fundamental needs and activities of daily living. There are many values and beliefs that make up the foundation for being a good nurse.
First and foremost, a nurse needs to value caring and the willingness to be a caregiver. Jean Watson’s Human Caring Theory of the science of caring refines caring behaviors as being central to nursing. One of the caring factors of her theory she writes about states, “The ideal and value of caring is a starting point, a stance and an attitude that has to become a will, an intention, a commitment, and a conscious judgment that manifests itself on concrete acts” ( Blais & Hayes, 2011, p. 109).
For me, I believe that caring is the largest building block in the foundation of nursing. Without caring behaviors as a caregiver, you can not possibly consider nursing as a fitting career choice. Secondly, it is essential to value the patient holistically as a physiological, psychological, sociocultural, developmental and spiritual being. As a nurse, we need to believe that the mind and body are two systems that work together to maintain homeostasis. When the mind is ailing, the body will soon follow and visa versa.
Betty Neuman developed the Neuman Systems Model that focuses on the wellness of a patient in relation to stressors and the patient’s reaction to such stressors. There are internal (such as infections), external interpersonal (such as divorcing), external extrapersonal (such as financial problems), and created stressors (alcohol abuse). Neuman wrote, “The individual’s reaction to stressors depends on the strength of the line of defense. When the lines of defense fail, the resulting reaction depends on the strength of the lines of resistance” (Blais & Hayes, 2011, p. 04). In other words, it is imperative to recognize that when we view a patient as a biopsychosocial being, our nursing interventions can focus on maintaining system stability with interventions that promote coping with stressors, whether internal or external. Lastly, as a value of my nursing philosophy, I feel it is important to be comfortable in your knowledge of the nursing process. There is a big difference in being taught about the nursing process and saying you “know” about the process and being “knowledgeable” in the process.
Every patient is different culturally, spiritually and holistically. The nursing process is used in assessing a patient for fundamental needs (assessing), gathering assessment data to assist in identifying nursing diagnoses (diagnosing), establishing nursing goals and interventions to achieve goals set to resolve problems identified (planning), implementing planned interventions (implementing) and constantly evaluating the effectiveness of the plan of care so as to adjust the interventions as needed to accomplish the goals set (evaluating).
Knowing how to utilize the nursing process and become knowledgeable in its process takes time and experience but it is essential that this be a major foundation in nursing philosophy. As a nurse who has been in practice for over sixteen years, I am able recognize that my own personal nursing philosophy has to include the ability to adjust to changes in the future of nursing. Education is a key element of the future of nursing. With the faster pace of Western medicine, nurses re expected to be able to learn more skills at a faster pace. Nursing procedures, policies and practices are changing at a faster pace. Nursing roles are expanding and this requires nurses to be more educated. Benner and Wrubel write, Old roles and skills are no longer adequate, and education must make adjustments to keep pace and provide leadership. The challenge for nurses is to take control of these changes and become proactive in meeting society’s needs for health care now and in the future. Benner & Wrubel, 1989, p. 462) With the advancement of nursing science, it will be necessary for nurses to become more educated in their fields as nursing becomes more specialized. Patients are becoming more educated and pro-active in taking control of their health. Nurses need to stay updated on alternative treatments that are on the rise in our future. In the near future, equal requirements for a graduating nurse will be the same across all nursing schools. Diploma nurses will be unheard of.
Nursing school curriculums will need to stay updated on the skills required to prepare a student nurse for graduation. Due to the rising cost of healthcare, nurses in the future will see more of a need to be educated in community health nursing. The future holds further hospital budget cuts which in turn will make hospitals a place primarily for surgical, emergent or critical care treatment whereas community health nurses will see a rise in a preventative health care and maintenance as a focus for well patients in the community.
Technology will be forever changing in our future. In my experience as a nurse, I started with charts hung outside a patient’s room regardless of their name showing, to advancement in technology where we are using I-pads to enter patient’s charts in rooms. Patients are becoming more educated about the science of health care through patient portals on the internet and are taking charge and asking questions. The future of nursing holds nurses accountable for being able to answer a lot of questions within their scope of practice.
With the introduction of Obama Care, our future will soon see an influx of patients with equal access to care. This program is meant to eliminate disparities by allowing access to health care. However, with the rise in retiring baby boomers and the expected influx of insured patients, this will contribute to the nursing shortage in our near future. Lastly, the future of nursing will continue to see more diverse patients. This increase in diversity brings the need for nurses to stay educated about the various cultural and religious practices that patients may have.
In the past, patients of minority cultures accepted and adjusted to the culture of western medicine and a particular facility’s procedures. Now, however, nursing has to adjust and adapt healthcare to the culture of the people. In conclusion, I would like to stress the importance of understanding that each nurse may have their own nursing philosophy based on a foundation of their own experience, knowledge and beliefs. I have yet to read about a nursing theorist who wrote a theory of nursing that states a nurse has to have certain requirements within their own philosophy in order to be a good nurse.
If I were to write one, I would include caring, the ability to see each patient as a biopsychosocial being and being knowledgeable in the nursing process as essential building blocks to the foundation of values in nursing. References Benner, P. , & Wrubel, J. (1989). The primacy of caring: Stress and coping in health and illness. Menlo Park: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. Kathleen Koernig Blais, and Hayes. (2011). Professional nursing practice concepts and perspectives. Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.