How do you define your “personal philosophy” within your own nursing practice? Learning disability student editor, Liv, talks us through how she weighed up what really mattered to her and set her intention for her career
I’ve spent much of the last few months contemplating what life will be like when I finish my nursing course and start my preceptorship position.
To prepare, I’ve read different nurses’ and student nurses’ personal philosophies on their nursing practice but I realised that gaining an understanding of my own philosophies would be beneficial. This understanding will safeguard my practice from environmental and political constraints that may otherwise, unintentionally, influence it.
So if you haven’t done so already… give it a go!
“The most important aspect of nursing to me is giving person-centred care”
After reflecting on my time as a student nurse, it became clear that the most important aspect of nursing to me is giving person-centred care. The basic principles of person centred-care are collaboratively working with patients and respecting their rights and individuality, with the aim of developing strong therapeutic relationships.
I believe treating people in a holistic way ensures they feel valued and safe while being cared for. Being non-judgemental and treating patients autonomously are both key to person-centred care and this is something I’ve learnt from my two years on placement in a medium secure hospital.
I decided to train to be a nurse after witnessing excellent person-centred care first-hand from a nurse caring for a friend of mine. I felt he had the traits that encompass a good nurse as in addition to treating us both in a holistic way, he was knowledgeable and we felt safe and cared for.
H“e had the traits that encompass a good nurse”
A leave of absence from my nursing course allowed me to reflect on my experiences within the adult field of practice and steered me towards re-applying for learning disability nursing. I felt that on my adult nursing placements I spent less time with patients compared to my experience within the learning disability field and that, for me, providing person-centred and holistic care could be difficult within these environments particularly due to time constraints.
I found learning disability nursing less focussed on a biomedical approach and more concerned with skills such as communication and creativity, which I feel are strengths of mine. These skills are highly beneficial when nursing people with learning disabilities, and so is patience and flexibility.
We must be aware that other’s views may challenge our personal values and beliefs but that the understanding of difference and incorporation of holism is vital to give person-centred care and managing the opposing views of others while upholding our own values is key to good practice.
“We must be aware that other’s views may challenge our personal values”
I believe that one of the biggest constraints of a nurse’s personal philosophy is the environment in which we work. This can be seen in the Francis Report into Mid Staffordshire Hospital where under-staffing and management targets led to a deficit in basic standards of care.
Frameworks such as Valuing People Now and the 6Cs can guide our practice. Both promote person-centered care by placing the patient or service user at the centre of care delivery to promote autonomy and compassion. They are useful guidance for nurses but it is difficult to really assess the full extent of their implementation.
To uphold your personal philosophy you must have confidence to advocate for yourself and the people within your care. It is also important to have insight into your own practice, and recognise if compassion fatigue affects your personal philosophies.
Understanding our own limitations is vital to being a good nurse and remaining true to our personal philosophy is important when our values are challenged within practice.