Nursing Philosophy

            Philosophies in nursing present a
nurse’s personal belief system or worldview of nursing (Kearney-Nunnery, 2012,
p. 15). It is the nurse’s personal definition of what nursing is to them. Their
philosophy is what guides them throughout their profession as they care for
patients. This paper will explore the values as well as moral and ethical
beliefs that I plan to follow throughout my nursing profession. Although my
nursing philosophy incorporates my own ethical and moral beliefs such as
compassion and caring, it extends far beyond that. Nursing to me is much more
than the medical aspects, as I believe in a holistic model, which says that
healing is contingent upon the health of not only the body but also the mind
and spirit.

Nursing Philosophy

and caring are the building blocks of nursing. Nurses deal with the sick and
injured and their families daily. Having a strong ability to empathize with
patients from all walks of life goes a long way in improving patient care and
outcomes. Jean Watson’s theory of nursing “emphasizes that the total person is
more important to nursing care than the individual injury or disease process
that produced the need for care” (Catalano, 2015, p. 61). This means that
nurses must not only care for the physical aspects of the disease, but also
need to be able to care for the mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects of the
patient themselves. For example, there was a time during clinical that I cared
for a patient who was in hospice. Although this patient was in the active
stages of dying, she was still able to communicate. She expressed that she was
afraid of dying alone, but that she was the last living member of her family,
so she knew it was unavoidable. As her nurse, I needed to care for the physical
aspects of her disease by repositioning her and keeping her comfortable through
the administration of pain medication, but I also knew I needed to do more. As
her breathing rate and heart rate slowed, I knew it was almost time for her to
pass. I went into her room and pulled a chair up next to her bed. I sat there
holding her hand and praying with her until she passed. I think she knew she
wasn’t alone. Although losing patients is one of the most difficult aspects of
nursing, they are also the most memorable.


            Watson’s theory “views the client as
someone who has needs, who grows and develops throughout life, and who
eventually reaches a state of internal harmony” (Catalano, 2015, p. 61). A
person reaching a state of internal harmony is contingent upon the caring of
the body, mind, and spirit both individually and together. In Maslow’s theory,
self-actualization is only met when all other needs are met first, while Watson
believes the most basic human need is one’s spiritual self, while all other
needs are of less importance (Falk Rafael, 2000). In order to address one’s
spiritual self, the nurse needs to be aware of and sensitive to their patients’
spiritual needs. These needs could include spiritual care activities such as
praying, reading of scripture passages, and listening to and counseling related
to spiritual concerns. Many nurses are comfortable addressing these needs, but
if they are not, then they can work as a team with a Chaplain. In the example I
used previously, I addressed my patient’s spiritual needs by praying with and
for her.

The body aspect of a holistic care
approach is where nurses address the individual injury or disease process which
led to the need for care (Catalano, 2015, p. 61). Ideally, if we can address
the underlying causes of an illness then we are able to prevent its
reoccurrence. Through assessments, deficits can be identified, and
interventions can be implemented to address them. Going back to the example of
my patient who was dying and on hospice, the assessment I completed upon
entering her room revealed that she was experiencing some discomfort due to her
difficulty in breathing. As stated, I addressed her physical needs by
repositioning her on a regular basis and administering pain medication.

The final aspect of the holistic approach
is the mind. This includes caring for the patient’s psychological and emotional
needs. The caring of these needs includes things such as preserving their
dignity, asking how they are feeling and sincerely caring, and asking how you
as the nurse can reduce their anxiety or pain. In the example of my hospice
patient, I cared for her psychological and emotional needs just by sitting with
her and letting her know that she was not going to die alone as she had
thought. This ultimately brought her comfort and relieved the anxiety she was
feeling about her impending death.

and Skills

            “Knowledge is fundamental to nursing
practice, nursing science, nursing philosophy, and ethics” (Jacobs, 2001). According
to Watson, this knowledge comes in many forms including empirical, aesthetic,
ethical, and personal knowing (Falk Rafael, 2000). Empirical knowledge is
received through assessments or observations, while aesthetic, ethical, and
personal knowing are obtained through the nurse’s own experience, moral and
ethical beliefs or the perception the nurse has of the patient and their needs.
As each patient presents with different diseases or injuries, nurses must be
able to adapt and utilize all types of knowledge and skills to care for
patients effectively and safely. Knowledge is also needed for nurses to develop
theories, which are needed to understand and reflect on nursing practice.

Caring Relationship

            In her theory, Watson expresses the
need for a transpersonal caring relationship as it focuses on helping patients
achieve a complete sense of harmony within the mind, body, and spirit. This
type of relationship puts the focus not only on the patient, but also on the
nurse and is “one of mutuality in which the whole nurse engages with the whole
client, each bringing her or his own experience and meaning to an actual caring
occasion” (Falk Rafael, 2000). Nurses who practice transpersonal caring show a
genuine desire to be present and centered in their interactions with their
patients. The example I have used throughout my paper is an example of a
transpersonal relationship or transpersonal caring as I centered my intentions
on caring, healing, and wholeness instead of the disease, illness and


            A holistic approach to the care of
patients, families, and communities is followed throughout many healthcare
organizations. My personal nursing philosophy is a standard of care based on my
own personal, moral, and ethical beliefs that I plan to follow throughout my
profession as a nurse. The care that I provide to my patients is focused on a
caring relationship that encourages healing of not only the body, but also the
healing of the mind and spirit. Nurses continue to be the heart and soul of healthcare
organizations, changing health care and the lives of individuals and families
for the better. It is a profession that I am proud to be part of.