Helping Students Develop Personal Nursing Philosophies

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what is your why?

Personal philosophies – or individual guiding principles – help people live by the standards they have set for themselves. In nursing, a personal philosophy is essential to helping with interactions with patients, families and other providers. Personal nursing philosophies can help guide competent, ethical and science-driven practice.

Nurse educators can help students draft personal nursing philosophies to guide their work. American Nurse, the official journal of the American Nurses Association, said that a nursing philosophy also helps identify the theories and beliefs for everyday choices.

“Your philosophy of nursing captures your intrinsic beliefs and goals within the nursing profession. Defining your philosophy provides you with a deeper connection to those beliefs. It can help shape you as a nurse and provide direction for which skills and specialties you want to focus on strengthening. Your philosophy will play a role in every nursing job you have,” author Lydia Kim said in “What is a philosophy of nursing.”

Registered nurses (RNs) who are pursuing an MSN degree, including through an online master’s in nursing program, to become nurse educators need to understand the importance of developing a personal nursing philosophy. In some instances, writing a nursing philosophy is part of an MSN curriculum. In other cases, nurse educators must guide their students through the critical process.

Importance of Developing a Personal Nursing Philosophy

Each person enters nursing school with predetermined beliefs. These beliefs impact individual actions, reactions and decisions. A nursing philosophy is deeply rooted in beliefs and values.

“Nursing philosophy is based on the what, why and how of nursing, as it applies to you in alignment with your own beliefs and values around nursing practice. You don’t just have to go along with what you feel you should say or what others expect you to feel. This must come from true feelings and values from the heart,” the healthcare recruitment firm Nursco wrote in “Nursing Philosophy – Why Do We Do It?”

A nursing philosophy is also deeply ingrained in a nurse’s character and changes through the course of a career. What bachelor’s-level nursing students write as their philosophies will be different than what master’s-level students will write. A personal nursing philosophy shows that nurses are considerate of patient dignity and ongoing care.

Nursing schools value personal nursing philosophies, and they often require nursing students to write them. However, writing a philosophy can be challenging because some students tend to write what they think the instructor wants rather than what’s in their hearts.

Helping Students Write a Personal Nursing Philosophy

American Nurse recommends that students take some time to reflect and answer the following questions before they start writing their personal philosophy. During this period of study and thought, consider the whys and whats of a nursing career:

  • Why did I want to become a nurse?
  • Why is nursing important to me?
  • What qualities make a great nurse?
  • Why do I make a great nurse?
  • What are my beliefs about nursing?
  • What skills should nurses have?
  • What values are important to nurses?
  • What beliefs are important to nurses?

After the questions have been contemplated, nurse educators should encourage student nurses to think about these considerations when writing their philosophies:

Define what nursing means on a personal level.

One of the first steps to developing a personal nursing philosophy for students is to determine what nursing means to them. Why did they choose nursing over another profession? What did they hope to get out of the career?

Consider a life event that exemplifies personal values and skills.

Nursing students should consider what events in their lives have sparked or influenced their passion for nursing.

Discuss how individual nursing practice will impact society.

Students should provide a big-picture look at how nursing can be a tool for positive societal changes and describe how to implement those changes.

Highlight individual values and skills that can add to nursing practice.

Nursing students should list the skills that are most important to them and detail how they plan to use the skills in practice.

NurseBuff, a nursing blog, said writing a philosophy should not be a one-and-done event. Instead, nurses should consider it a roadmap for the future.

“Your philosophy of nursing can serve as a guide. Whenever you need to clarify something or make an important choice, don’t forget to review your philosophy,” authors of “Are You Embodying Your Personal Philosophy of Nursing?” stated. “Be consistent with it and revisit it each time you want to stay in touch with your passion.”

Using a Nursing Philosophy as a Career Guide

NurseBuff also said a philosophy could help nurses strive for new goals. Educators should encourage nurses to work to the full scope of their practice, education and expertise.

“Your philosophy in nursing can also push you to set higher and better goals for yourself. It can help you rediscover your passion for work and push you to always move forward,” NurseBuff said.

RNs seeking to advance their positions in nursing should consider a career as a nurse educator. Nurse educators train the next generation of nurses through high-quality education. They help new nurses understand why a philosophy is so important to their careers.

At Duquesne University, RNs who graduate from the university’s online master’s in nursing program and post-master’s certificate program learn all of the vital skills for working in academic and clinical education settings.

About Duquesne University’s Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program

Duquesne University launched the first BSN program in Pennsylvania in 1937 and the first online nursing Ph.D. program in the nation in 1997. Graduates of Duquesne University’s online MSN and online Post-Master’s Certificate in Nurse Education & Faculty Role programs have been lauded as some of the most creative and innovative nurse educators in the field today.

Duquesne University offers MSN degrees in six tracks:

  • Nurse Education and Faculty Roles
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Executive Nurse Leadership and Health Care Management
  • Forensic Nursing
  • Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner

For more information about the programs, contact Duquesne University today.




What is a philosophy of nursing: American Nurse

Nursing Philosophy – Why Do We Do It?: Nursco

Are You Embodying Your Personal Philosophy of Nursing?: NurseBuff