What Is a Philosophy of Nursing?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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A philosophy of nursing is a personal statement where a nurse reflects on his beliefs about his profession and the standards he hopes to maintain throughout his working career. Nurses in the process of applying for work may be asked about their philosophy of nursing, and it is sometimes a required part of application packages. Some treatment facilities also have a general statement from their nursing staff about their work that they make available to the public so prospective patients know how nurses at the facility approach their jobs.

The contents of a philosophy of nursing can be highly variable. The statement usually discusses why someone is a nurse, and what she thinks her career is about. Nurses tend to believe that their job is to provide very high quality patient care, with a focus on patient advocacy and education. They also focus on cooperative work with other members of a care team to achieve positive patient outcomes. A philosophy of nursing may discuss a desire to work with patients and care providers from diverse backgrounds while respecting those backgrounds.


Such statements often discuss accountability. Nurses want to be accountable to their patients and other care providers to make sure their work is held to a high standard. They also stress professionalism in the workplace. This can include a desire to resolve conflicts amiably, to maintain high behavioral standards, and to handle all patients with respect and sensitivity. Nursing can present challenges like working with patients who may be aggressive or in embarrassing situations, and a nurse needs to be prepared to handle these with aplomb.

Many philosophies of nursing also discuss the need for continued professional development and training. Nurses are required to complete a set number of hours of continuing education each year to maintain their licenses. They may commit to additional hours or special training to improve patient care and increase the array of services offered at their facilities. This can be an important part of a nurse's overall approach to the work, as she wants to make sure that patients get the best care, with the most up to date and effective training.

Nursing schools often provide guidance to their students as they develop a philosophy of nursing at the end of their training. Sample statements are available, and students may also complete worksheets and use other tools to organize their thoughts about the nursing profession. This assistance can help a nurse prepare a statement he may use in job applications or applications for advanced nursing training.


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Post 3

I guess you might need to change your philosophy of nursing depending on who you are applying to. Not all nurses end up in hospitals, after all. One of my friends recently graduated nursing college and is working in a hospice.

I'm not saying your core values would have to change, but talking about making people better wouldn't be the best approach when applying for work at a hospice, for example.

Post 2

@MrsPramm - Well, most of the nurses I know do think quite deeply about these sorts of things, particularly when they are first starting out.

It's a very difficult job and not one that a person can get into without strong reasons to do it. It's not like the pay is worth the long hours and the heartbreak.

I think having a real philosophy in nursing to help you through the tough moments would be very useful. You would need something to hold up and be able to say to yourself, this is why I am going to continue to try my best every day.

I'm speaking as someone who also has a difficult job and needs to do that myself.

Post 1

I actually think this would be an interesting thing to discuss with a nurse next time I'm stuck in a room with one. I wonder how many of them really give a lot of deep thought to this question, and how many of them just change a few words on the standard template of what they know their employers want to hear?

I'd try to get them to boil it down to something very simple. A personal philosophy of nursing would be more interesting and relevant than a long screed of various things they know they're supposed to say.

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