Developing a Nursing Philosophy: A Personal Discovery and Reflection

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As I finish up my first year of undergraduate studies in nursing, this is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on my learning experiences and personal beliefs about the nursing profession. Throughout the nursing education and personal experiences I have had this past year, I have gained a deeper understanding of what nursing really is and why I chose to study it. In this paper I will explain the importance of the nursing sub concept of advocacy as it relates to nursing practice. Additionally, I will explore how my views of the nursing profession have changed as I begin to develop my own personal philosophy of nursing.

Before entering the nursing program, I never fully understood the importance of advocacy in a nursing role. I had always assumed that in order to be a nurse you needed to simply care about people, and have decent people skills. The nurses role is so much more than just being nice to people and caring about them. Nurses need to advocate on behalf of their patients and provide them with the support they deserve. I have learned over the past year that advocacy plays a huge role in forming therapeutic relationships.

The general definition of advocacy is the process of supporting a cause; however, the importance and expected use of advocacy when incorporated in nursing practice is not always understood (Selanders & Crane, 2012). The nurse should act as the patient’s main advocate (Goodman, 2014). Advocacy in nursing practice is crucial to enhance the caregiving environment (Selanders & Crane, 2012). When nurses incorporate advocacy into their nursing practice, it allows the patient’s voice to be heard (Kristjándóttir, 2013).

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Florence Nightingale believed that advocacy is important to provide excellent care in a safe, healing environment as well as promote patient well-being and optimal health (Selanders & Crane, 2012). Today, advocacy is understood as an essential component of ethical nursing in order to support the safety of the patient as well as to assist them in understanding their rights (Selanders & Crane, 2012). Advocacy can enhance future practice by allowing patients to feel safe at their time of need and have someone to rely on. The nurse should show advocacy through assisting the client to choose decisions that benefit them as well as making them aware of their rights (Cole, Wellard, & Mummery, 2014).

Patient advocacy is crucial in the case of patient vulnerability. Due to the power differential between doctors, nurses, and patients, clients often rely on nurses to speak on their behalf (Cole, Wellard, & Mummery, 2014). Clients tend to believe that nurses have a greater understanding of what decisions will best benefit them when it comes to achieving their optimal health (Cole, Wellard, & Mummery, 2014).

I feel as though my perspective of nursing has changed greatly over this past year. I have developed a better understanding of what it is that nurses do and what their responsibilities are as professionals. At the beginning of the year when I first started the nursing program, I was given an assignment to describe why I wanted to be a nurse and why I think that the profession would suit me. On the scrub shirt (see Appendix A) I stated that nursing was a good fit for me because I love being knowledgeable about the human body and why people do the things that they do. Over this past year I have learned that nursing is much more than knowing the human body and why people do things – it is about forming relationships. My knowledge on collaborative relationships and strengths-based care has increased greatly over this past year. I now know the importance of recognizing the client as the expert of his or her own health applied this knowledge to know how to form a collaborative relationship with my client. Also on the scrub shirt, I stated that I chose nursing because I wanted to choose a profession where I could dedicate my life in order to enhance the value of another’s. I believe that this is still the main reason why I want to be a nurse, and that my reasoning has not changed over the past year. The original reason why I chose nursing was because of my next door neighbour Alivia, who passed away at three years old from cancer. Her family spoke very highly of the nurses that cared for Alivia, and I was amazed to hear about the positive impact these nurses had on the family’s unimaginable health care experience. Since then, I have been inspired to have the same positive effect through my nursing career.

At the start of second semester, I was given another assignment to discuss what I thought nursing was, what nurses do, and what I can bring to the profession. On the nursing hat (see Appendix B), I wrote fairly brief and typical answers. I said that nursing is the profession of providing care for people who are ill, nurses provide support for people in a time of need, and that I can bring my unique perspective and willingness to learn to the profession. After reflecting on my answer, I realized that my perspective has changed. Earlier on this year, I had always assumed that nurses were similar to doctors’ assistants. They did all of the things that the doctors were too busy to do such as take vital signs, do IVs, and assist patients with small tasks. After studying nursing over this past year, I have realized that nurses are well-respected professionals and are so much more than their stereotype as doctors’ assistants. I learned in class that registered nurses are ranked highest among all professionals for honesty and ethics. I think that this is an impressive fact, since it means that many patients feel that they can approach and trust a nurse over any other health professional. I believe that is one of many things that set nurses apart from other health professionals. From being involved in a nursing program this year, I can tell through my professors and other nursing students that nurses are very proud to be involved in such a rewarding profession. The pinning ceremony that was held for first year nursing students this year validated that fact for me. The ceremony truly made me see how much of an honour it was to be studying nursing at a time full of opportunities within the profession. Personal Philosophy of Nursing – Developing a Nursing Philosophy: A Personal Discovery and Reflection.

Another new perspective that I have developed over this past year is on interprofessional relationships. I never fully understood the importance of an integrated health care team. I always assumed that nurses and doctors worked together because they both work in hospitals. I did not realize how many other health care professionals were involved in interprofessional collaborations. I was surprised to learn that the interprofessional health care team involved such a broad range of professionals, such as pastors and social workers. Learning about interprofessional relationships made me realize how much effort health care professionals put into making sure that the client has a fully developed health care plan that they feel comfortable with. It also made me see the value of the nurse’s role in an interprofessional health care team. They act as advocators and coordinators for the client, which I believe is a crucial component in order to ensure a trusting therapeutic relationship between the nurse and the client.

Overall, I believe that I have discovered and reflected on my perspective of nursing this past year. Although my thoughts about nursing have developed and changed immensely, I believe it will continue to develop as I go forward in my nursing education through my experiences in the profession.

Before September, whenever people asked me what I was studying in university and I said nursing, they would always say something along the lines of “wow good for you!” or “that’s amazing, I could never do that.” I never fully understood why so many people congratulated me for entering the nursing profession. I always knew that nursing was a respected profession but I never realized how respected it was until I became apart of it. After being enrolled in the nursing program, I believe I have conducted a personal philosophy of nursing through my personal and academic experiences this year.

Having a personal philosophy is critical in order to guide our future actions and decisions (Alpers, Jarrell, & Wotring, 2013). Obtaining a philosophy requires extensive critical thinking and applying our thoughts to our beliefs and values (Alpers, Jarrell, & Wotring, 2013). The first step to piecing together my personal philosophy was when I completed the elevator speech in class. This assignment shifted my perspective on what I think nursing is and what nurses do. I now believe that nurses not only support individuals, but also strive to advocate and assist them throughout their entire health care experience. They also incorporate health promotion and healing within their work as well as work collaboratively with other health professionals. I believe that nurses are powerful and fearless when it comes to advocating for their patients. Nurses need to have courage in order to be a successful partner in the nurse-client relationship, which means that they need to act on the patient’s behalf in order to make sure the patient’s needs are met. I also believe that nurses need to possess a certain self-confidence that cannot be taught through education, but rather attained through personal experience. Working with other health care professionals as a part of the health care team can be intimidating especially since doctors and other professionals are known for looking down upon nurses. The nurse needs to know his or her own strengths and intelligence in order to be seen as a confident and well-respected health care professional.

I think that my beliefs and values and very similar to the values of the nursing profession. Nursing encompasses caring, empathy, and respect in order to create a trusting relationship with the client (Regan & Colling, 2014). I too believe in these values and apply them to my everyday life in order to create relationships. In order to have a healthy relationship, you need to treat people like you would like them to treat you. I grew up with this value and have applied it to every relationship I have created. I always try and respect and care for others while valuing their opinion and personal experiences. I believe that by bringing my similar values and beliefs to the profession I can enhance the value and reputation of nursing. I will also do my best to endlessly advocate on the behalf of my clients and promote health to my community and work environment.

I believe nursing exists to create relationships with others in their time of need. When someone is sick and needs extra assistance, I believe that this person relies on someone to help advocate for him or her and make sure his or her needs are met. That is when I think that the nurse’s role is needed. I also think that the role of the nurse is to act as a partner with the client. The nurse needs respect their clients’ wishes and see them as the experts of their own care.

I think the future of the nursing role should continue to grow and develop into a role that further incorporates health promotion and advocacy. Nurses can reduce health risks, health problems, and health care costs just by increasing the level of health promotion in their practice. I believe that all nurses should be aware of potential risk factors to health problems and promote prevention to their clients or anyone who needs health advice or assistance. Also, I believe a high level of advocacy is needed in order for nurses to create successful therapeutic relationships with their clients.

In the future, I see nursing becoming more advanced through more nurses enrolling in graduate studies. This can develop the future of health care because there will be more nurse practitioners and future nursing educators to continue advancing and developing the nursing profession. I also see the future of nursing branching out to different environments. I believe there should be more opportunities for nurses to work in third world countries or in rural areas under extreme conditions.

Over the past several months I have gained a new perspective on what nursing is. Through my education and personal discoveries, I have developed my own personal philosophy that I can apply to my future nursing practice. My views on nursing have changed significantly which allowed me to reflect on why I want to be involved in this profession. I am proud of my philosophy and I will continue to advance and reshape it throughout experiences in nursing.

Personal Philosophy of Nursing – Developing a Nursing Philosophy: A Personal Discovery and Reflection

References

Alpers, R., Jarrell, K., Wotring, R. (2013). Developing a philosophy of nursing: A first step to becoming a professional. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 8(4), 162-163. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.teln.2013.07.001

Cole, C., Wellard, S., Mummery, J. (2014). Problematising autonomy and advocacy in nursing. Nursing ethics, 21(5), 576-582. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0969733013511362

Goodman, T. (2014). The future of nursing: an opportunity for advocacy. AORN Journal, 99(6), 668-671. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aorn.2014.03.004

Kristjándóttir, G. (2013). Advocacy – a core element of nursing. Nordic Journal of Nursing Research, 33(2), 3. Retrieved from http://www.vardinorden.no/vin/english

Regan, A., Colling, J. (2014). Caring for people who are dying: priorities at the end of life. Nursing Standard, 29(24), 51-58. http://dx.doi.org/10.7748/ns.29.24.51.e9710

Selanders, L., Crane, P. (2012). The voice of Florence Nightingale on Advocacy. Journal of issues in nursing, 17(1), 10. Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/ojin/. Personal Philosophy of Nursing – Developing a Nursing Philosophy: A Personal Discovery and Reflection.