Philosophy of Nursing and Its Importance in Nursing Profession

Afza.Malik GDA

Nursing Philosophy as a Profession

Philosophy of Nursing and Its Importance in Nursing Profession

Philosophy of Nursing as a Knowledge Foundation,What is Philosophy itself,Emergence of Nursing as a Philosophy,Nursing in Philosophical View,How Philosophical Thoughts Add Nursing Knowledge,Philosophy & Science,What is Human In Nursing Philosophy,Future of Nursing Philosophy for Nurses.

Philosophy of Nursing as a Knowledge Foundation

    A philosophy of nursing lays the essential foundation for nursing knowledge. Whether explicitly articulated or just implied, all nursing knowledge begins and ends with a philosophy of nursing. 

    A philosophy of nursing is important because it represents the values, visions, and convictions of nurses about what ought to be nursing's central phenomena, that is, those phenomena that are both necessary and sufficient to provide a viable frame- work for the discipline and practice of nursing (Silva, 1997). 

    Therefore, to generate nursing knowledge, nurses must understand what are considered to be nursing's central phenomena. To better understand the underpinnings of nursing's central phenomena, nurses must turn to the relationship between philosophy and philosophy of nursing.

What is Philosophy itself

    Philosophy is a specific discipline that deals with ultimate or first cause questions and phenomena that transcend other disciplines and cannot be answered by science or scientific investigation, for example, what is reality? 

    Like philosophy, nursing is viewed as a specific discipline; Thus, a philosophy of nursing should address big or ultimate questions about nursing and its phenomena. Example follow:

  • What ought to be the basic phenomena of the discipline of nursing?
  • What are the metaphysical and ontological claims that underlie the phenomena of the discipline of nursing?
  • What are the moral claims that underlie the phenomena of the discipline of nursing? what are the aesthetic claims that underlie the phenomena of the discipline of nursing?
  • How can the basic phenomena of the discipline of nursing be known?
  • How should the basic phenomena of the discipline of nursing articulate with basic phenomena of other human, helping service disciplines?

Emergence of Nursing as a Philosophy

    As health care professionals living in the 21st century, distinct disciplinary boundaries are blurring rapidly and more interdisciplinary fields are emerging. As this trend continues, so too will the questions that constitute the essence of nursing philosophy. 

    In summary, the preceding questions raised about nursing have metaphysical, ontological, moral, and aesthetic claims that emerge from philosophy but manifest themselves in phenomena related to nursing and ultimately to nursing philosophy.

Nursing in Philosophical View

    As a philosopher, Rescher (2001) believes that human beings have an innate curiosity “rooted in the need-to-know” (p. 6) answers to life's questions. To get at these answers, Rescher advocates philosophical inquiry as a methodology; this methodology includes a systematic process of “constructing a doctrinal system that answers.[life's] questions in a coherent and comprehensive way” (p. 1). 

    But, according to Rescher, there is more: philosophers not only must deal with the estimation of truth that involves errors of omission and/or commission but also must discern what constitutes “the data of philosophy” (p. 15).

How Philosophical Thoughts Add Nursing Knowledge

    Philosophical inquiry in nursing is one approach to advancing nursing knowledge. It follows the same method of philosophizing as previously described by Rescher (2001) but applies the method to substantive philosophical questions in nursing. 

    The goal is coherent and comprehensive answers to nursing's philosophical questions (eg, Jacobs, BB, 2001; Jones, T., 2003; Newman, 2002) with the best-fit estimation of truth (eg, Pilkington & Mitchell, 2003). 

    Like philosophical inquiry in philosophy, nurses who conduct philosophical inquiry in nursing must discern what constitutes the data of nursing.

Philosophy & Science

    Philosophy is not science, and nursing philosophy is not nursing science. 

    But philosophy is the foundation of science, and nursing philosophy is the foundation of both nursing science (ie, the body of nursing's scientific knowledge) and nursing research (eg, the process of obtaining not only nursing's body of scientific knowledge but also the process of obtaining knowledge derived from scholarly critical analyses).

What is Human In Nursing Philosophy

    Implicit in nursing research are assumptions about human beings (ie, study subjects or participants), about selected phenomena of the discipline (eg, variables), and about how the selected phenomena can be known (ie, the research method). In addition, in qualitative research the meaning or artistry of the selected phenomena is often addressed (eg, hermeneutics, photography). 

    Finally, regardless of whether the research is quantitative, qualitative, and/or scholarly critical analysis, it must be ethical. Thus, all research grounded in nursing contains explicit or implicit philosophies of nursing that determine research approaches.

Future of Nursing Philosophy for Nurses

    Future directions about philosophies of nursing and about nurses and nurse researchers include the following: 

(a) nurses need greater knowledge about and appreciation for the discipline of philosophy

(b) nurse researchers must interact regularly with nurse philosophers to grasp more fully that a philosophy of nursing provides a foundation for nursing science and other nursing knowledge

(c) nurses must commit themselves in greater numbers to philosophical inquiry as a legitimate method of obtaining nursing knowledge

(d) nurses must prepare themselves for the blurring of distinct disciplinary boundaries as more interdisciplinary fields emerge.

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