Role of philosophy in nursing practice.

Role of philosophy in nursing practice.

Nursing practice comprises of the three major components, namely science, ethics and aesthetic (Bruce, Rietze, & Lim, 2014). Nursing practitioners deliver the components using two major philosophical approaches, notably, philosophy of care and philosophy of therapy. Philosophy is a critical part of nursing profession and discipline because it is closely related to the three components of care. The components include person, environment and health (Bruce, Rietze, & Lim, 2014). In this regard, philosophy does not only provide a new way of thinking, but also increases nurse’s ability to theorize and develop knowledge. This provides nurses with new approaches of thinking about the practice, making sense of it and articulating it in addition to critiquing it. This paper explores philosophy’s influence on knowledge development in nursing.

Various theorists have examined the role of philosophy in nursing practice. Before examining philosophy influence on knowledge development in nursing, it is important to examine how it is framed. In nursing, philosophy framework can be examined in three main dimensions, including as a content, method and as a way of life (Bruce, Rietze, & Lim, 2014). From content dimension, philosophy is applied in identifying essential areas of interest to nursing practice. In regards to methodology dimension, nurses use philosophy in accessing different interpretations, meanings and real life experiences. Philosophical approach to life or as way of life imparts nursing values in the nursing practice. This is demonstrated by interaction and subsequent inseparability of theoretical and practical dimensions, as well as personal and professional aspects in nursing profession (Bruce, Rietze, & Lim, 2014).

The influence of philosophy in nursing knowledge is evident in the ontological and epistemology dimensions. Nursing ontology explores the nature of nursing, personhood, environment, health and illness (Johns, 1995). On the other hand, nursing epistemology focuses on the development, identification and validation of available knowledge in nursing, and also for and about the practice. Nursing ethics is also another aspect of knowledge that explores the moral phenomena and the nature of good nursing practices (Crowe & O’Malley, 2006).

Theorists have examined development of nursing knowledge from diverse philosophical dimensions. Kim (1999) explored reflective inquiry as a way of developing knowledge in nursing practice. According to Kim (1999), critical reflective inquiry comprises of three stages, which are descriptive, reflective and emancipatory. The phases have distinct processes and products, which results to development of knowledge in nursing practice. Descriptive phases as a process entail exploration of practice, particularly for its authenticity and comprehensiveness. This results to production of knowledge in form of descriptive accounts or narrative.

Reflective phase involves a thoughtful analysis of the existing situations in nursing against theoretical expositions. The reflective process results to the development of knowledge about practice process and their use to improve nursing profession. In addition, reflection in nursing results to increased awareness of individual nurses in regards to their values, abilities and how they fit in nursing practice (Kim, 1999). Emancipatory phase is a process which involves critiquing of the various aspects of nursing practice, particularly on conflicts, distortions and inconsistencies of various theories and practices. This requires learner’s engagement, a process that ultimately results to learning and change of perspectives in regards to nursing practice (Kim, 1999).

To develop knowledge in nursing, Crowe and O’Malley (2006) emphasized on the need for scholars to collaborate and integrate different theoretical and philosophical perspectives in addition to applying multidisciplinary inquiry. This multidisciplinary approach of developing nurse knowledge allows the development of an open model, which allows critiquing, and interrogation of the practice, which results to improvement of nursing practice.


Bruce, A., Rietze, L., & Lim, A.(2014). Understanding philosophy in a nurse’s world: what, where and why? Nursing and Health 2(3): 65-71.

Crowe, M., & O’Malley, J. (2006). Teaching critical reflection skills for advanced mental health nursing practice: a deconstructive-reconstructive approach. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 56(1), 79-87.

Johns C (1995). Framing learning through reflection within Carper’s fundamental ways of knowing in nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing 22 226-234

Kim HS (1999): Critical Reflective inquiry for Knowledge Development of nursing practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing 29 (5)

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