How can I write a personal philosophy of nursing?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Many people think that nursing, more a “science” than a “humanity,” does not submit to questions of “philosophy.” A nurse, they think, simply does her job by obeying medical science, obeying his/her superiors, the doctors, etc., and there is no room for personal beliefs or opinions. But the opposite, it can be argued, is true – a nurse must begin his/her career by asking questions of himself/herself about the role nursing takes in total healthcare. You might begin a personal nursing philosophy essay or statement by addressing the question “Why am I entering this profession?” In that answer lies one of the most essential elements of a personal philosophy: what goals are implied in my decisions and actions? Why am I proceeding with world-choices? What is my motivation for actively engaging in this three-dimensional, sensory world? For nursing, there seem to be motives beyond simply “making a living.” Because of the nature of nursing (ameliorating suffering, aiding in cures, providing solace and concern for others, etc.), a nurse’s “personal philosophy” necessarily includes an acknowledgement of the balance between professional behavior (obeying the doctor’s “rules,” the hospital’s “policies,” etc.) and individual concern for the welfare of the patients and their families. If these two elements overlap or interfere with each other, what is the nurse’s personal philosophy for solving the conflicting impulses? So a nurse, in stating this philosophy, might set up an example case, to demonstrate his/her solution: for example, if a patient is ordered by the doctor to not eat sweets (because of a diabetic condition) but begs the nurse for a piece of candy, that is not a conflict. But if a patient is in pain, but no aspirin has been prescribed, should the nurse give an aspirin? This could be a philosophical dilemma, and the nurse must ask “To what extent can I use my judgment in the absence of a doctor’s direct instruction?”  Of course, there are many outlets besides hospitals for nursing career.

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