Holistic Nursing Philosophy and Practice

Table of Contents


This paper not only illuminates some of the basic concepts of the nursing practice and profession but also serves to expound on the nursing philosophy that will serve as a guiding principle in my nursing career. Drawing from the seminal work of Cooper (2000), it is imperative to suggest here that my personal philosophy of nursing is firmly embedded in the realization that the nursing focus has increasingly shifted from a disease orientation to the provision of holistic care in a dynamic state of interaction between the natural and humanistic environments.

Definition of Nursing

In this paper, nursing is defined as “that service to mankind which enables people to attain and maintain good health and to prevent illness, or when illness occurs, helps and supports them, so that they may overcome their illness and regain health” (Mellish, 2009, p. 19). This definition has been adopted owing to my deeply held conviction that the practice and profession of nursing are not only profoundly rooted in the commitment to public service but is inherently influenced by the desire to assist individuals in need to regain optimal health.

Assumptions or Underlying Beliefs

Nursing assumptions or underlying beliefs form an important component of the nursing profession and practice, particularly in terms of directing quality patient care that is individualized to the unique needs of each patient. Consequently, I believe that nursing is founded on several assumptions, namely (1) independence is valued by the nurse and the patient, more than dependence, (2) health has a meaning shared by the society, (3) individuals desire health or a peaceful death and will act in such a way to achieve these outcomes, (4) individuals will undertake activities leading to health if they have the knowledge, capacity or will to do so, (5) the individual’s goal and the nurse’s goal are congruent, (6) peer support is important, (7) clinical competence allows one to feel good about one’s nursing role, and (8) nurses deserve recognition for their efforts (Meleis, 2012). These assumptions will underlie my actions as a registered nurse, hence not only assisting in the critical thinking process but also in identifying all options and continuously adapting the practice environment to meet new challenges.

Major Domains of Nursing

Nursing domains are central to the practice of nursing and include “nursing (as an action), the client (human being), environment (of the client and the nurse-client) and health” (Meleis, 2012. p. 97). While clients are the recipients of nursing care or services (e.g., individuals, families, groups, communities, or populations), the environment denotes the atmosphere, milieu, or conditions in which the clients live, work, or play (e.g., a slum neighborhood). Moving on, the health domain implies an experience that is often expressed in terms of wellness and illness (e.g., the experience of high fever at the time of the patient’s interaction with the nurse), while nursing denotes “the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations” (Masters, 2013, p. 77).


According to Slevin (2003), the four major domains of nursing are “associated with four propositions indicating linkages between person and health; person and environment; health and nursing; and person, environment and health” (p. 158). These linkages, in my view, demonstrate that, while the mentioned nursing domains are discrete concepts or domains in their own right, they nevertheless interrelate with each other to provide a holistic continuum whereby the caring actions provided by nursing professionals become integrated in terms of encompassing concerns for the client, his or her health, as well as the surrounding environment.

My vision of nursing for the future is predicated upon the realization of several nursing issues, which include (1) providing holistic care that not only recognizes an individual’s preferences and values, but also respects the patient as a full partner in the provision of compassionate, coordinated, age and culturally appropriate, safe and effective care, (2) demonstrating accountability for the delivery of standard-based nursing care that is consistent with moral, altruistic, legal, ethical, regulatory, and humanistic principles, (3) influencing the behavior of individuals and groups in a way that facilitates the establishment and acquisition of shared goals, (4) demonstrating an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger context of the health care system, (5) using information and technology to communicate, manage, seek knowledge, mitigate error, and enhance decision making, and (6) functioning effectively within nursing and interdisciplinary teams, fostering open communication, mutual respect, shared decision making, team learning, and development (Masters, 2013).

Moving on, I am aware of the challenges that I am expected to face as a registered nurse, which include working for long hours, role conflict and job burnout, transition problems from novel nurse to nurse practitioner, lack of funds and opportunities to engage continuous learning, structural and communication barriers, lack of support from management, as well as poor working conditions (Chege & Garon, 2010). Lastly, as a registered nurse, my goals for professional development include a personal commitment to life-long learning through continuous nursing education and hands-on experience, engagement in research activities to provide an evidence base for the nursing practice, as well as engagement in regional and national advocacy networks to spearhead the nursing cause.


Going forward, it is my deeply held conviction that my personal philosophy in nursing is placed at the core of ensuring the delivery of holistic, compassionate, and culturally sensitive care as well as engaging in life-long learning to develop the knowledge and expertise needed in guaranteeing optimal patient outcomes in the care continuum.


Chege, N., & Garon, M. (2010). Adaptation challenges facing internationally educated nurses. Dimensions in Critical Nursing, 29(3), 131-135.

Cooper, C. (2000). The art of nursing: A practical introduction. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders.

Masters, K. (2013). Role development in professional nursing practice (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC.

Meleis, A.I. (2012). Theoretical nursing: Development and Progress (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Mellish, J.M. (2009). An introduction to the ethos of nursing: A text for basic student nurses (3rd ed.). Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Slevin, O. (2003). An epistemology of nursing: Ways of knowing and being. In L. Basford & O. Slevin (Eds.), Theory and practice of nursing: An integrated approach to caring practice (2nd ed., pp. 143-171). Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.

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