How A Personal Philosophy of Nursing Can Help Your Career

Why A Personal Philosophy of Nursing Can Help Your Career

Have you defined your personal philosophy of nursing?

Whether you realize it or not, many factors influence your perceptions of this important profession.

Each person has intrinsic beliefs that play a role in their own philosophies. When considering how to write a personal philosophy of nursing, first think about what is important to you.

Your beliefs are a product of:

  • Your interactions with patients,
  • Patient families and other healthcare professionals,
  • The knowledge you obtained from the classroom.

Defining your philosophy provides you with a deeper connection to those beliefs and the values that initially led you into the profession. It can also help you strengthen your knowledge, attitude, and skills.

SEE ALSO: How to Strengthen Cultural Competence in Nursing Practice

So, what is a philosophy of nursing?

Personal Philosophy of Nursing WorksheetBONUS: Discover your personal philosophy of nursing today!
Download the Nursing Philosophy Worksheet

Defining a Personal Philosophy of Nursing

“Nursing theory”, as defined by Peggy L. Chinn and Maeona K. Kramer (authors), is “a creative and rigorous structuring of ideas that project a tentative, purposeful, and systematic view of phenomena”.

In other words, as a current or aspiring nurse, you have beliefs about what nursing means to you. Those beliefs affect your decisions, actions, and reactions.

Because your theories and philosophies affect the choices you make every day, it is only right to identify them.

One place to start is with your leadership styles.

SEE ALSO: 7 Types of Leadership Styles in Nursing (Which One Are You?)

Some people are more aware of their underlying beliefs while some uncover them through the exercises described in this article.

What is your personal philosophy of nursing? It is the sum of your beliefs; what it is, what it is not, and what it can be.

Why Nursing Students Should Write a Personal Philosophy of Nursing

A Personal Philosophy of Nursing for Students

You deeply relate to the values, skills, and traits that you feel a nurse must embody.

In a profession as important as nursing, being in touch with your “why” is crucial.

Studying to become a nurse would indicate you have found your life’s purpose. Your “why” directly relates to that purpose. But do you really know why you are seeking to begin a career in nursing specifically?

Defining a personal philosophy of nursing is your way of uncovering what fuels your passion for this exciting profession.

Understanding this “why” will help you become connected mentally and emotionally to your work. It is no secret that connection plays a significant role in nursing.

SEE ALSO: I Hate Nursing: 9 Ways to Get Inspired and Excited Again

Your personal nursing pilosophies may mirror your general philosophies on life. The fact is, “philosophy” is just another word for beliefs.

So then, what do you believe in? What is your nursing values and beliefs statement?

When you answer that, you will begin to uncover your deeper philosophies.

[clickToTweet tweet=”In a profession as important as #nursing, being in touch with your “why” is crucial.” quote=”In a profession as important as nursing, being in touch with your “why” is crucial.”]

Personal Philosophy of Nursing for Practicing Nurses

A Personal Philosophy of Nursing for Practicing Nurses

You may feel that you live your philosophy every day, so why would you need to define it?

You often hear that nurses must overcome a series of demands to provide top quality care. As a practicing nurse, you can relate to the long hours, high-pressure situations, and constant flow of physically challenging work.

SEE ALSO: 5 Awesome Tips for Beating the Physical Demands of Nursing

Developing a personal nursing philosophy, and revisiting it regularly, will help you overcome these demands by staying in touch with what drives you.

The truth is, we all struggle with the question of personal meaning throughout our lives.

Professionals tend to hit their stride in their forties and fifties. However, rediscovering your passion for work ensures that you can achieve new goals and inspire the people around you.

Taking the time to formally define your philosophy of nursing can help you in many tangible and intangible ways.

This exercise will help you avoid burnout and motivate you to do your best work, every day. It will also help you succeed in a long-term nursing career.

SEE ALSO: How to Succeed with a Career in Long Term Care Nursing

How to Write a Personal Philosophy of Nursing

How to Write a Personal Philosophy of Nursing

It is very common for nursing students to be assigned the task of writing a personal philosophy of nursing.

Preceptors and instructors often hand down this assignment to get their students thinking in new ways. It’s also helpful in preparing new nursing graduates for their first job interviews.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Guide to New Grad Nurse Interview Questions

However, students may not feel that they have developed a philosophy yet. This can create confusion for students who have yet to become working nurses.

This assignment is relevant because it requires students to think critically about the profession they plan to enter.

Each person likely already has a philosophy, they just have yet to formally define it.

Begin defining your personal philosophy of the nursing profession by first answering the questions below:

  1. What is nursing?
  2. Why is it important to me?
  3. What does a nurse bring to society?
  4. Who makes a great nurse?
  5. What qualities and skills are important for nurses?
  6. Which values should every nurse have?
  7. What mistakes should a nurse never make?

Creating this list will prompt you to begin clarifying your personal philosophy of nursing.

Once you have answered these questions, the odds are you will be feeling very connected to your beliefs.

This will make it easier for you to combine them into an overall philosophy. Expanding your individual answers into a complete philosophy can be accomplished through the following exercise:


Begin by defining exactly what nursing means to you personally.
This is not a formal definition; seek to weave your answers from above into explanatory sentences.


Include one story (or more) that elaborates on some of your values, traits, and skills.
Consider describing how and why you embody them with examples of philosophy of nursing from your life.


Discuss how you personally intend to impact society through your nursing.

Some personal nursing philosophy examples include using your nursing to better-underprivileged communities or to make an impact in home care environments.


Close by highlighting the values, traits, and skills that mean the most to you.
If you can, tie these qualities into your past, current or planned future experiences.

Consider reviewing these personal philosophy of nursing examples if you are still not sure how to complete the exercise:

Joanne de Guia-Rayos reminds us that “Active participation with others is needed to provide compassionate and ethical patient care in a healing environment. Quality care for patients requires reciprocity with those whom nurses can professionally identify with. Collaboration is a moral that reinforces the commitment to the common goal of a patient’s welfare.”

Cecelia Baxter says her examples of nursing “address four things: society, environment, the recipient of nursing care, and the interaction between society, person and the environment.”

Megan McGaham describes her personal philosophy of nursing as “rooted in a commitment to public service and the undeniable desire to help those in need. Nursing is more than treating an illness; rather it is focused on delivering quality patient care that is individualized to the needs of each patient.”

Vanessa Morton shares that her examples of a personal philosophy of nursing “reveals the tremendous evolution I have made from the role of a student nurse into the role of a registered nurse. As I continue to advance in my career, my ethics associated with a diverse patient population, the environment, and the role of a professional nurse, will progress with me.”

You can also take a look at our Inspired Traveler Series and Meet Jessica who reached her own personal philosophy of nursing “aha” moment.

Conclusion | How A Personal Philosophy of Nursing Can Help Your Career


Make the most of your exercise in writing a personal philosophy of nursing by focusing on these three factors:

  • What: Remember that this philosophy is based on your underlying beliefs and values.
  • Why: Defining your personal philosophy of nursing is important because it provides direction and motivation.
  • How: Answer a series of reflective questions that will open your mind and heart.

Then, find a nursing job that fits your philosophy and provides you with the experience you want.

SEE ALSO: Where Can Nurses Work for the Best Overall Experience?


How do you define your personal philosophy of nursing?

Share with us in the comments below!

Personal Philosophy of Nursing WorksheetBONUS: Discover your personal philosophy of nursing today!
Download the Nursing Philosophy Worksheet


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