Nursing Philosophy a Philosophy of Essay

Download this Essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Essay:

There are clear philosophical connections between the core ideas of hermeneutics and those of historicism, because each posits a potentially radical degree of relativism. Rodgers & Knafl (2005) explore this, arguing not for a return to any radical empiricism but rather to acknowledge that while knowledge and certainly medical praxis is socially constructed (and constructed along lines of socially sanctioned power hierarchies), there are fundamental empirical elements to nursing that cannot be trivialized.

Moreover, Rodgers & Knafl (2005, p. 118) argue that such a trend towards a radical sort of relativism (or, perhaps more accurately, a fully realized postmodernism) is not in keeping with the philosophical tenets and requirements of the hermeneutic writers that nurses have embraced: While knowledge is certainly socially constructed, the key to a hermeneutic reading is a focus on the social nature of the way in which knowledge is created and transmitted.

It is important to note that this is in no way an argument for a privileging of solipsism. Hermeneutics is not at any level an attempt to validate the idea that we can each make up our own reality. Indeed, to suggest anything like this is to do a great disservice to this philosophy (Rodgers & Knafl, 2005, p. 120).

A hermeneutic approach requires an individual to understand how the ideas current in a particular historical moment create complicated connections between new and old knowledge and practice. This requires nurses (in this case) to understand how they as part of an entire medical team are being influenced by past notions of how they should work.

An historical perspective

This very brief overview of some of the most important philosophical theories that have informed and continue to inform nursing practice demonstrates how much the profession has changed over the last several generations of nursing. At its inception as a profession, that is, during the Civil War, nursing relied on rationalism and empiricism as much as possible. This should hardly be a surprise for two distinct reasons. The first of these was that early leaders in the movement to professionalize nursing (for of course, nursing as a practice is as old as the human family) were women who wanted their work to be taken seriously.

In the very male world of medicine in which they were working, the first nurses had little choice but to borrow the masculine language and ideas of science as a way to validate to the rest of the world the work that they were doing. nor, it seems likely, would they have been otherwise inclined to reach outside of the scientific perspective as a way to understand and explain their own work. Nursing as a profession arose (and this is of course not entirely coincidental) during the decades in which the Industrial Revolution was bringing the practical applications of science more and more to the forefront of daily life.

The shift to a more constructivist, less empiricist view of nursing has come about since the middle of the last century, and especially since the 1970s. This was due in some significant part to the fact that as more and more nurses were educated in formal university nursing programs (rather than receiving training more on the job), they became more and more influenced by the dialogue that was going on in other areas of academia. Just as the rest of society was caught up in radical changes during the 1960s, the university too was changing, admitting theories such as historicism (all the way through the most radical forms of postmodernism) that required people in different fields to recognize that truth is often far more relative than is comfortable to acknowledge (Tomey & Alligood, 2005).

The last decade and a half have seen something of a pendulum shift back to a more empirically informed philosophy of nursing. The pendulum will never swing back as far as it once was, for there was a certain (dangerous) naivete to the original empirical writings in all of the medical fields. (Indeed, there remains in many fields of medicine a certain disingenuousness about the extent to which medical knowledge is True). However, medicine -- unlike literary criticism, for example -- can never be radically relativist. There are facts in medicine that can never be negotiated or reinterpreted.

This is the current state of theory in nursing: Some things are simply true. And the vital corollary of this is that one can never know what those things are without a serious effort at self-knowledge and without a similarly serious attempt at understanding the social constructs and constraints of the worlds in which nurses work.

Personal philosophy: A holistic benefits the patient

My own personal approach as a nurse working with adult cardiac patients is a holistic one. For me, this holistic approach has several elements. The first is that I view each patient as a complete person, as someone with a life that began long before he or she entered the hospital and that will -- with the staff's skilled care as well as the always needed element of luck -- continue long after the patient has been discharged. A holistic approach means that one never considers the patient to be simply a single organ system or set of symptoms

The second branch of the holistic tree of nursing for me is that a nurse must always treat the patient as a member of a family rather than as an isolated individual. Family members are key elements of any patient's recovery from cardiac disease. This is true both in a good sense and a bad sense: Supportive family members will help a patient heal much faster and more completely. Family members who are not supportive can sabotage the patient's healing in a number of ways. Both possibilities must be understood by a nurse, who must then try to find ways to maximize supportiveness while limiting any attempt on the part of the patient's families to do conscious or unconscious harm.

Finally, as suggested by my analysis of the different philosophies of nursing above, a holistic approach to me signifies that I will draw from any of the philosophical or analytical theories that I am familiar with to help my patient. For example, I will stress to my patients that it is imperative that they follow as closely as possible the drug regimens that their physicians establish for them. In the area of cardiac medication, I believe that empiricism is the best possible approach.

However, in other areas of treatment, recuperation, and healing, I will adopt a constructivist approach when I believe that will be the most helpful for my patient. A good deal of healing is subjective, and in no small measure what a patient understands to be progress and healing is up to him or her to determine. Doctors can be far too committed to only objective measures of healing, which can be an alienating and even fundamentally depressing experience for patients. In such cases, part of my work as a nurse is to help the patient come to an understanding of healing that is empowering and entirely personal.


Chinn, P. & Kramer, M. (2010). Integrated theory & knowledge development in nursing. Boston: Mosby.

Meleis, a.I. (2006). Theoretical nursing. . New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Reed, P. & Shearer, N. (2007). Perspectives on nursing theory. New York: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Rodgers, B. & Knafl, K. (2005). Nursing: Foundations, techniques, and applications.…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Nursing Philosophy A Philosophy Of" (2011, February 19) Retrieved December 3, 2016, from

"Nursing Philosophy A Philosophy Of" 19 February 2011. Web.3 December. 2016. <>

"Nursing Philosophy A Philosophy Of", 19 February 2011, Accessed.3 December. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Nursing Across Theories Nursing Is a Core

    Nursing Across Theories Nursing is a core concept that is common across contemporary nursing theories. Even though the definitions, applications, and philosophies are different with each theory, the concept of nursing plays a vital role in each one. Contemporary theories came about when the teaching of nursing students was not sufficient to the performances of what the nurses were being taught in schools and ultimately affecting patient care in the long

  • Nursing Theory a Patient Centered Approach

    Nursing Theory -- a Patient Centered Approach In the opinion of this author and from personal experience, nursing has to be patient centered. It is the author's experience in years of working in the field that someone who stays in the profession inevitably must see nursing as not a job, but rather as a vocation or a calling. One must treat it with a reverence. In this way, the nursing professional

  • Nursing Theory Nursing Is a

    A person's health is an ever-changing state of being resulting from the interaction with the environment. Optimum health is the actualization of both innate and obtained human potential gained through rewarding relationships with others, obtaining goals and maintaining expert personal care. Adaptations can be made as required to maintain stability and structural integrity. A person's state of health can vary from wellness to illness, disease, or dysfunction. Professional nursing is

  • Nursing as a Nurse in

    That nurse must go deeper than the superficiality of "nursing helps people maintain health (Nursing Philosophy it Matters, 2012). "The fight against post-operative wound infections has long been undertaken by practitioners. We appreciate that surgical site infections (SSIs) are frequently caused by bacteria commonly found on the skin. Therefore, reducing the number of bacteria on the skin has been a common preoperative practice. Standards and recommended practices from the Association

  • Nursing Theories Nursing Is a Professional and

    Nursing Theories Nursing is a professional and an academic discipline and must be "studied in concert with all of the disciplines that together from the health sciences" (Levine's four conservation principles, 2012, Current Nursing). To maintain homeostasis of the organism (Levine's four conservation principles, 2012, Current Nursing). INTERACTION: King's theory of goal attainment Doctorate from Teacher's college, Columbia University (Imogene King's theory of goal attainment, 2012, Current Nursing). "To help individuals maintain their health so

  • Nursing Is a Rewarding but

    The Neuman Model is appropriate for senior care. Studies necessary with other models. Penrod,; Reframing Person Centered Care for Persons with Dementia Research and Theory for Nursing Practice 2007 Lit. Review, discussion Lit. Review Research shows individual personhood approach has positive effects on care. Biomedical and psychological models must be merged for persons with dementia. Integration models Further study using different integration modeling. Rajapaksa and Rothstein; Factors That Influence the Decisions of Men and Women Nurses to Leave Nursing. Nursing Forum 2009 Case

  • Nursing Philosophy We All Have a Philosophy

    Nursing Philosophy We all have a philosophy -- whether related to our professional engagements or otherwise. Indeed, it is on the basis of our individual philosophies that we form the conduct of life. A nursing philosophy in the words of Reed (as cited in Masters 2014, p. 100) is essentially "a statement of foundational and universal assumptions, beliefs, and principles about the nature of truth and knowledge (epistemology) and about

Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved