Shaping Your Nursing Career with a Personal Philosophy of Nursing

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What is a personal philosophy of nursing? It's essentially a mission statement for nurses that encompasses their personal and professional values and goals. When writing your personal philosophy of nursing statement, think about your approach to patient care and what nursing means to you.

nurse holding patient's hand

There are many different types of nurses — from those who specialize in caring for kids with cancer to those who work quickly to stabilize patients with life-threatening injuries on medical transport flights. Despite the wide range of career possibilities within this field, all nurses share one thing in common: They have a personal philosophy of nursing, whether they know it or not.

What is a personal philosophy of nursing, and why is it important? You’ll get those answers here and learn how to write a personal philosophy of nursing to guide your clinical practice for years to come. You can start right now, whether you’re thinking about entering nursing school or are already on your way to sitting for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). At Xavier University, we encourage our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) students to integrate values like compassion and servant leadership into their clinical practice.

What Is a Personal Philosophy of Nursing?

It’s common for job applicants to include an objective statement at the top of their resumes. A personal philosophy of nursing is similar to this objective or mission statement, but it transcends any particular position or role. Instead, it’s a broader position statement specifying your values, beliefs, and personal and professional ethics as they pertain to your nursing profession and your motivation to serve as a nurse.

There is no right or wrong way to write a personal philosophy of nursing (also called a “nursing philosophy” or a “nursing philosophy statement”). It can encompass your education and training or focus on your professional practice. It may reflect your career goals or emphasize your personal approach to delivering patient care. It might even state what being a nurse means to you or provide your definition of nursing excellence.

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Why Is a Personal Philosophy of Nursing Important?

Your nursing philosophy can shape who you are and who you become as a nurse. It can guide your career choices and empower you to deliver better patient care. There are many reasons why it’s essential to develop a personal philosophy of nursing. Here’s a look at a few of them.

1. A Nursing Philosophy Can Sustain Your Motivation

Nursing is personally fulfilling work, but it can also be challenging. Nurses often work long shifts, face high-pressure situations, and make life-or-death decisions. They may deal with difficult patients and family caregivers. When you have aching feet or patients with less-than-pleasant personalities, it can be helpful to remember why you became a nurse in the first place. With a nursing philosophy, you can reinforce your motivation.

2. A Nursing Philosophy Statement Can Guide Your Professional Interactions

Nursing is inherently a team-oriented profession. You must work well with your fellow nurses and other health-care providers. Of course, you also need to interact with your patients and their loved ones. Your nursing philosophy statement can help you approach all your interactions with integrity, personal accountability, and respectfulness.

3 nursing students posing in hallway

3. Your Personal Philosophy of Nursing May Facilitate Career Decisions

Deciding to become a nurse is only the first in a long string of career-related decisions you’ll make. What type of nurse will you become? What work setting is best for you? How will you grow professionally and advance in your career? Should you pursue a graduate degree and additional certifications?

It isn’t always easy to answer these questions, even if you think you have a general idea of what you want your career to look like. While thinking through these decisions, you may find it helpful to turn to your nursing philosophy statement for guidance.

Your Personal Philosophy Can Support Job-Seeking Activities

In addition to helping you make important career decisions, your personal philosophy of nursing might also help you with job-seeking activities. You can use your personal philosophy as the basis for your objective or summary statement at the top of your resume. You can also use it to prepare for common interview questions that touch on your professional values or approach to patient care.

Personal Philosophy of Nursing Examples

Before you sit down to write your personal philosophy of nursing, it can be helpful to look at some examples of mission statements. Consider the following:

“As an aspiring nurse, I believe in integrating my personal values into my nursing practice. These include service to my community and advocacy for those who are less able to speak for themselves. I will strive to always put my patients’ best interests first and to ensure they are able to make fully informed health-care decisions.”

I believe that strong communication and collaboration are at the heart of clinical excellence. Patients going through difficult times need more than rote medical guidance; they need an empathetic ear and a compassionate touch. As a nurse, I strive to connect on a personal level with my patients while still maintaining appropriate professional boundaries.

“As a soon-to-be nurse, it is my responsibility to ensure I am properly equipped to provide the best possible care to my patients. To that end, I will take every opportunity to improve my skills and further my education. Lifelong learning is essential for helping patients heal.”

Xavier ABSN student working with sim manikin

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How to Write a Personal Philosophy of Nursing

Now that you’ve reviewed some personal philosophy of nursing examples, let’s explore the process of writing one for yourself. Doing so will require self-reflection and some writing. Ask yourself the following questions and take notes on your responses:

  • What first interested you in a nursing career?
  • Why did you choose nursing over another type of health-care profession?
  • Why exactly is nursing important to you on both personal and professional levels?
  • What aspect of nursing appeals to you most? (e.g., patient education, relationship building, or fast-paced work?)
  • What are your strengths as a nurse? (e.g., compassion, empathy, leadership, communication, or kindness)
  • What are your values? (e.g., service, equality, innovation, or teamwork)
  • How do your values translate to your approach to nursing?
  • What are your goals as a nurse? How do you want to impact patients?

As you reflect on these questions, your notes will likely be far longer than the statement itself. Your personal philosophy of nursing should be concisely written (no more than one to three sentences). Try to make at least one or two of those sentences actionable by using verbs. Keep your nursing philosophy statement where you’ll see it often, such as your locker at work.

student writing in notebook

Your personal philosophy of nursing doesn’t have to remain static. In fact, it’s a good idea to update it every few years or as needed. You may want to update it if you earn a graduate nursing degree, obtain a certification, or decide to pursue a new position. Update it as needed to include new skills, traits, or patient care approaches that are important to you.

Learn to Care for Patients at Xavier

No matter your personal philosophy of nursing, you can build a foundation for clinical excellence at Xavier. With our ABSN program, you can earn your nursing degree in as few as 16 months and be qualified to sit for the NCLEX. Our instructors go above and beyond to support student success, and our friendly admission counselors will walk you through the process step by step.

Contact our admission team today and take the first step toward a meaningful career in nursing!