The Philosophy of Nursing

Table of Contents

Definition of Nursing

The first nurses who appeared in ancient times were just doctor helpers. They helped with easy tasks and reduced the load on the physician. The modern nursing is very different. The basis for it was created by Florence Nightingale in the 19th century. She described a nurse as having many various responsibilities. Since then, the concept of nursing was expanded and defined more clearly. In the modern days, International Council of Nurses describes the profession like this: “Nursing encompasses autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups and communities, sick or well and in all settings. Nursing includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people” (ICN, 2002). Nursing includes not just medical work, but also tasks aimed to improve the quality of life of individuals. Nurses work independently and with other professional on various problems that threaten the well-being of communities around the world.

Assumptions and Beliefs

Underlying assumptions and beliefs are the center of any activity. When a person works in a profession, they should act according to them. Being a nurse means following these values, it means being a part of the nursing culture. These beliefs are different in various aspects of the profession. However, the very basis of nursing is the same as for any other medical profession. It is the assumption that a nurse will do anything in their power to help people in need. Without this, the nursing practice has no meaning. All the other values expand this fundamental principle. For example, nurses should believe in preserving the dignity and compassion towards everybody. They should help people without regard for their race, citizenship or religion. They should educate themselves and refine their knowledge in order to improve their ability to support health and well-being of others. While the ethic codes for nurses are extensive and cover a huge variety of situations, all of them just help the nurses better understand how these basic assumptions can be applied in their practice (Fowler, 2010).

Domains of Nursing

There are for main domains of nursing which form what is called a metaparadigm. First is “Person” – an integrated whole, a combination of the physical body, psychological state, and all of their life experiences. A nurse must recognize any human as a wholesome individual regardless of any factors. Any patient is a person. Second is “Environment” – everything surrounding a person. Family, friends, job and home are all parts of the environment. It is necessary to take all of those into consideration during the nursing practice. The third domain is “Health” – a combination of objective and perceived well-being of a person. Achieving health is the goal of all nursing activities. The final one is the nursing practice itself. This area includes all practices aimed to preserve or restore health in individuals. All of the interventions and treatments performed by a nurse fall into this domain (Masters, 2011). The four domains encompass all of the values and beliefs of the nursing profession. They are inseparable and help define each other. The person is a part of the environment, and the environment is part of the person. Health can be defined both by an individual and by his environment. And nursing combines all of the other domains in order to create a comprehensive practice.


In my opinion, the role of nursing will become larger in the future. The profession assumes more and more different roles each year and with them more responsibilities and aspects. As the nursing practice becomes more complex, I will be more likely to encounter situations in which my beliefs and values will be questioned. In order to be ready for such problems, I aim to not only increase my expertise as a professional but also study ethics to truly understand the various implications my decisions may have.


Fowler, M. D. M. (2010). Guide to the Code of Ethics for Nurses. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association.

ICN. (2002). Definition of Nursing. Web.

Masters, K. (2012). Nursing theories. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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