Personal and professional ethical values significantly influence the way a nurse works. Personal philosophy comprising those values can be manifested even in the smallest details and practices including communication with patients and colleagues. Moreover, it can define a nurse’s overall attitude, level of commitment to work, and orientation towards favorable patient outcomes. The core elements in my professional philosophy are the concepts of human dignity and holistic care. I will discuss them in detail in the given paper and demonstrate how they relate to the professional role of nursing as a whole.
I believe that every individual has a right to respect. The concept of human dignity is core in this regard. Since the term is very complex and multidimensional, there may be many ways to describe it. For example, Parandeh, Khaghanizade, Mohammadi, and Mokhtari-Nouri (2016) define the concept of human dignity, which is fundamental in nursing, as “having respect for human individuality and treating each individual as a unique human being” (p. 2). It is possible to say that in highly diversified social contexts, the respect for individuality is especially important as multicultural differences become as prominent as ever in communities composed of different races, genders, denominations, and so on. Therefore, in both personal and professional aspects of life, I aim to respect dignity in every human being regardless of their backgrounds. Moreover, I try to promote such elements of human dignity in my patients as self-confidence, sense of personal value, and self-respect through empathic communication and active listening.
Parandeh et al. (2016) state that environmental control is an essential part of human dignity because personal growth and development largely depend on the environment where an individual lives. The environment is comprised of multiple dimensions. The physical aspect of the environment refers to nutrition, housing, economic status, level of pollution, etc. The objective physical world is a core element defining the overall quality of life. However, socio-cultural conditions are as crucial to the development of individual welfare as the physical ones. Socio-cultural aspects of environment include community and family relationships, education, etc. It is worth noticing that all the environmental dimensions are interconnected. For example, it is observed that built environment defines “the presence of (and proximity to) health-relevant resources as well as to aspects of the ways in which neighborhoods are designed and built (including land use patterns, transportation systems, and urban planning and design features)” (National Research Council & Institute of Medicine, 2013, p. 195). Therefore, the physical environment may contribute to specific health behaviors and patterns of social interactions.
The quality of all the environmental dimensions and the way people interact with them across the lifespan largely determine their health. For instance, when a child’s social needs are fulfilled through positive and meaningful relationships with caregivers, he or she will grow as a psychologically secure individual whose socio-emotional performance, mental well-being, and cognitive aptitude will likely to be well-developed. National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (2013) state that a person has a negative perception of social security, social cohesion, and social capital, he or she becomes exposed to excess stress, which can result in mental disorder. Another example is when a person lives in the area where stores with unhealthy foods prevail. In this case, he or she is likely to acquire unhealthy dieting habits, which may consequently lead to the development of chronic diseases.
Based on the examples and evidence discussed above, I think that health primarily implies positive person-environment interactions. The given perspective is similar to the one suggested in the theory of holistic care. The traditional reductionist physiology-based approach to treatment of multiple health conditions is rather insufficient because it addresses merely a single biological aspect of human life. On the contrary, holistic medicine targets as many dimensions of patients’ lives as possible.
According to Bullington and Fagerberg (2013), in holistic care, a patient is always regarded as “a whole person,” meaning that his or her biological, psychological, and social needs are taken into account (p. 493). A holistic view of patients integrates the concept of a “lived body,” i.e., the mind-and-body unity responsible for subjective experiencing of the world (Bullington & Fagerberg, 2013, p. 493). From the given point of view, an individual is healthy when biological, socio-cultural and other environmental factors are in balance. At the same time, illness may indicate a misbalance in person-environment interactions and some impaired perceptions of the world. The disease should not be regarded as a separate entity and treated throughout reductionist, task-oriented and fragmented interventions. It is possible to say that holistic, individualized, and person-centered approach can be regarded as the only adequate method of patient care as it aims to address all environmental dimensions affecting a person’s health status.
Overall, I think that nursing exists to promote individual and public health, to improve the quality of patients’ lives, and to provide them with comprehensive support during the course of disease development. Since in perspective on a human being as the body-mind-world system, subjective experiences and individual sensations provoked by person-environment interactions play a significant role in defining health and illness, nursing activities should serve to mediate those subjective perceptions of environment and direct them towards recovery if possible.
I regard care provider-patient communication as a major component of patient-centered holistic treatment. Sensitive, sincere, and emotionally valuable communication style is effective in the fulfillment of patient psychological needs and has greater potential for the improvement of the overall healthcare quality perceptions. For some individuals, interactions with nurses can serve as one of the major sources of psychological and social support. It is especially relevant to hospitalized patients.
It is possible to say that overall hospital environment also has significance in the development of patient satisfaction. According to Li, Lee, Glicksberg, Radbill, and Dudley (2016), patients who are happy with hospital environment tend to form a better perception of own health condition. Conversely, adverse hospital environment associated with both psychological or physical negative factors (i.e., interpersonal conflicts, poor hygienic state, etc.), aggravate patient perception of morbidity and illness and may lead to mental distress. As a result, treatment outcomes in a hospital with the hostile organizational culture can be significantly worse than in those with the positively charged environments arranged according to all hygienic norms and standards. It means a nurse should do her or his best to promote and contribute to the development of the favorable climate within her or his setting.
In my opinion, professional philosophy integrating the concepts of holistic care and human dignity may have significant positive impacts on the quality of rendered care. Such a philosophy supports improved patient-provider communication, high level of competence, positive hospital environment, and sensitivity towards individual patient needs and characteristics. Although it may seem that consideration of individual needs in every patient and consequent alignment of care delivery activities with them is a challenging task, the pursuit of higher patient satisfaction through provision of individualized care and establishment of trustful and collaborative relationships is a golden standard of professional practice for me and, as a nurse, I strive to achieve and implement it.
Bullington, J., & Fagerberg, I. (2013). The fuzzy concept of ‘holistic care’: A critical examination. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 27(3), 493-494.
Li, L., Lee, N. J., Glicksberg, B. S., Radbill, B. D., & Dudley, J. T. (2016). Data-driven identification of risk factors of patient satisfaction at a large urban academic medical center. Plos ONE, 11(5), 1-18.
National Research Council, & Institute of Medicine. (2013). U.S. health in international perspective: Shorter lives, poorer health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Parandeh, A., Khaghanizade, M., Mohammadi, E., & Mokhtari-Nouri, J. (2016). Nurses’ human dignity in education and practice: An integrated literature review. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, 21(1), 1–8.