Having a philosophy of nursing is essential for those in the nursing profession. A thorough understanding of one’s priorities, values, and perspectives on the purpose of care can promote the formation of professional identity and ensure consistency between assumptions and practice. This paper explains my philosophy of nursing and its roots and explores the role of nursing philosophy in approaches to research, knowledge development, and everyday practice.
Personal Philosophy of Nursing and Philosophical Influences
Speaking about the central assumptions of my nursing philosophy, it is critical to highlight that my views combine the science of nursing and the application of evidence-based interventions with more abstract values and notions, such as respect, empathy, justice, and recognition of individual needs. From my perspective, high-quality care is all about the nurse’s ability to place interventions that are known to facilitate recovery in particular conditions in the context of a specific person’s unique characteristics, needs, and expectations regarding nurse-patient collaboration. All patients expect to be treated with respect, but their needs pertaining to patient education and communication may vary. Thus, it is essential for nurses to develop empathy and insightfulness to recognize the influences of their approaches and practices on patients’ emotional, psychological, and physical well-being.
The principles described above have been influenced by multiple prominent ideas, including the elements of pragmatism and post-positivism. The pragmatic philosophy emphasizes the practical consequences of ideas and actions and recognizes the pluralism of worldviews and cultures (Younas, 2020). These assumptions inform my views of nurses’ role in supporting mental health patients, including the use of sound judgment and thoughtfulness as a communicator to make the patient’s unique situation and priorities reflected in care and communication plans. Among other aspects, it may include giving consideration to the impact of patients’ culture-specific beliefs on their views of the world and mental health. Next, post-positivism aims to find the middle ground between objectivity and subjectivity. This principle informs the importance of both evidence and patients’ subjective experiences and beliefs as part of my philosophy.
This week’s readings have helped to refine my beliefs by adding to my knowledge about philosophical paradigms. For instance, Persson’s (2010) discussion of positivism and misconceptions that surround it have reinforced my belief that the key positivist principles, such as the supremacy of generalizable regularities, are critical but do not adequately address the complexity of caring and nurse-patient communication. Pesut and Johnson (2008) and Kim (1999) explore the importance of care providers’ actual experiences and observations in the construction of nursing knowledge. By focusing on practice, these readings have strengthened my philosophical orientation toward learning and deriving knowledge from everyday experiences.
Philosophical Foundations of Nursing and Personal Nursing Practice
The philosophical foundations of nursing have a tremendous impact on my everyday practice involving caring for adult and elderly patients with common mental health conditions and engaging in nurse education tasks. Philosophy is differentiated from nursing theories based on the degree of abstraction, and common philosophical assumptions affecting practice include broadly defined ethical principles and values, such as justice and beneficence (Pesut & Johnson, 2008). These philosophical guidelines for wise practice influence and inform my approaches to intraprofessional collaboration and teaching.
One example of this refers to my efforts to promote the value of beneficence when participating in the development of nurse education courses and seminars. Mental health conditions vary in terms of their influence on a person’s competence and sound decision-making. Sometimes, nurses’ willingness to comply with potentially aggressive and delusional patients’ requests may create risks to safety and health. Therefore, our seminars teach novice nurses to practice beneficence by placing patients’ wishes and requests in the context of the results of psychiatric evaluations focusing on their competence and capacity.
Another example that demonstrates connections between philosophical foundations and practice involves my attempts to integrate care with justice and promote equal access to care. As a professional, I am committed to creating a supportive environment for individuals with mental health diagnoses and promoting the destruction of stigma surrounding certain conditions through the provision of education to new nurses. It happens that care providers’ incomplete understanding of health issues, for instance, substance use disorders, makes them develop negative and counterproductive assumptions about those suffering from such conditions. It may result in biased attitudes and selectivity when spending time with particular patients, and I participate in the development of anti-bias training for care providers to promote justice.
Philosophy and Knowledge Development
The development of new knowledge related to health and society tends to be a politicized process that responds to popular trends. Philosophical inquiry allows detecting, anatomizing, and critically evaluating these trends and their long-term reverberations in science and practice, thus establishing an understanding of their philosophical roots (Pesut & Johnson, 2008). Thus, philosophical inquiry can be applied to relatively recent developments in healthcare knowledge and practice, such as the growing awareness of patients’ spirituality and the popularization of interventions that support such needs, including religious beliefs (Pesut & Johnson, 2008). Critical reflective inquiries also promote knowledge development in nursing by enabling practitioners and researchers to engage in self-reflection and develop the models of good and effective practice by means of analyzing actual occurrences and practical issues (Kim, 1999). Therefore, philosophy analysis can support knowledge improvement by encouraging critical reflection on new trends and personal practice.
Philosophy promotes nursing knowledge development by establishing priority areas peculiar to nurse-patient collaboration and promoting strong connections between theory and practice. For example, the philosophy of pragmatism plays an essential role in bridging the gap between theoretical assumptions and the reality of patient care. It facilitates the development and selection of attitudes and approaches to care that bring actual and detectable benefits to patients while recognizing the existence of individual needs (Younas, 2020). Pragmatism can be useful for nursing knowledge since its principles promote the decision to entrust theory development to practicing nurses that are aware of the tiniest problems affecting nurse-patient collaboration (Younas, 2020). Thus, this philosophical approach supports the systematic analysis and reinterpretation of actual nursing experiences.
In my practice, the relationship between philosophy and knowledge development finds reflection in continuous attempts to derive new knowledge from encounters with individuals with mental health conditions and observations of their reactions to care providers’ communication strategies. The need for approaches and methods of communication that actually work and take patients’ individual needs and weaknesses into consideration is among my core philosophical assumptions when it comes to collaboration since my experiences suggest the existence of significant interpersonal differences in responses to one and the same way of delivering messages. For instance, I am used to making observations to identify trends in how patients’ mental health conditions and individual traits, such as the degree of openness, extraversion, or passivity, affect their expectations of nurse-patient communication. Thus, philosophical assumptions impact my approach to the creation of specific knowledge based on my experiences.
Influences of Positivism and Post-Positivism on Nursing Science and Practice
Positivism and post-positivism are two philosophical paradigms that influence research activities in different fields, including nursing. Being a philosophical theory that makes a clear distinction between scientifically verifiable knowledge and other, less genuine types of information about the world, positivism and logical empiricism had a prominent influence on nursing scholars in the 1970s (Bluhm, 2014). As a result, despite the gradual departure from logical empiricism, the ideas of unification as a value in nursing science and the bottom-up approach to information processing are still prominent in nursing theory and research (Bluhm, 2014). The influences of positivist and post-positivist thought and the search for plausible and verifiable explanations find reflection in the expansion of nursing science to include more research methods that emphasize quantitative data, such as survey data collection and experimental studies (Bluhm, 2014; Persson, 2010). As a more “flexible” methodology, post-positivism posits that reality cannot be fully explored and recognizes biases in research. Thus, it paves the way for methodological pluralism and the use of experimental and survey research and mixed-method research designs.
Aside from research, the paradigms in question have a profound influence on the practice of care. As an approach that suggests the supremacy of quantifiable data and replicable facts, positivism underpins the discovery of repeatable associations between interventions and health outcomes, thus supporting the progression of knowledge regarding the human body. Nursing professionals then rely on this objective knowledge to administer treatments that have been repeatedly shown to cause measurable health improvements in a specific demographic with some particular conditions. For instance, as mental health nurses, my colleagues and I implement the outcomes of traditional positivist medical research into nursing practice when engaging in medication administration and care staff training tasks. With its attempts to negotiate the conflict between interpretivism and positivism, post-positivism can offer value for nursing practice by suggesting viable ways of using evidence-based interventions and the provision of individualized care plans that consider patient preferences (Ryan, 2019). With that in mind, the paradigms are dissimilar in terms of how they support the practice of caring for patients.
Regarding my personal philosophy of nursing, the post-positivist approach to knowledge influences it to a larger extent if compared to positivism. As a nurse, I assume that the acknowledgment of truly scientific studies of mental disorders and how pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions alleviate their symptoms is essential but is not enough for an accurate understanding of patients’ treatment and care needs. My area of practice deals with disorders that involve challenging subjective experiences, mental pain, and suffering that are not easy to measure and quantify. Taking that into account, I am deeply convinced that high-quality mental health care requires achieving a healthy balance between implementing verified and accurate knowledge on mental health improvement and developing mastery in empathy and interpreting information about the patient’s condition from different sources, including non-verbal cues. Therefore, my philosophy chimes with the post-positivist assumption that achieving pure objectivity is challenging. From my perspective, the use of different methods of studying reality and patient experiences enables researchers and nurses to see the fuller picture when it comes to care needs.
Finally, my nursing philosophy emphasizes compassion and respect and incorporates the elements of post-positivism and pragmatism. Philosophical assumptions and ethical priorities guide my practice in nurse supervision and training. Philosophy supports knowledge development by providing explanations for new phenomena and trends pertaining to patient care. Also, well-recognized philosophical paradigms, such as positivism and post-positivism, shape nursing research and practice and influence trends related to research methods.
Bluhm, R. L. (2014). The (dis)unity of nursing science. Nursing Philosophy, 15(4), 250-260. Web.
Kim, H. S. (1999). Critical reflective inquiry for knowledge development in nursing practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 29(5), 1205-1212.
Persson, J. (2010). Misconceptions of positivism and five unnecessary science theoretic mistakes they bring in their train. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 47(5), 651-661.
Pesut, B., & Johnson, J. (2008). Reinstating the ‘Queen’: Understanding philosophical inquiry in nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 61(1), 115-121. Web.
Ryan, G. S. (2019). Postpositivist critical realism: Philosophy, methodology and method for nursing research. Nurse Researcher, 27(3), 20-26. Web.
Younas, A. (2020). Operationalist and inferentialist pragmatism: Implications for nursing knowledge development and practice. Nursing Philosophy, 21(4), e12323. Web.