The essence of nursing

The professional discipline of nursing arguably has strong foundations in both philosophical and scientific thought. According to McEwin and Willis (2014), science addresses a cause and effect relationship and scientific knowledge compromises a component of the tradition of a discipline. Empiric knowledge is essential when the nurse is applying best practices. Practice cannot be based on intuition or personal experience alone. As professionals, nurses need to have a sound body of scientific knowledge with which to make informed decisions when caring for patients. With that said, nursing is a caring profession. How does one learn to care for human beings? How do we “know” what another human being needs from us? These are questions that are better answered philosophically than scientifically. Both philosophy and science are needed to advance nursing knowledge.
How do they legitimize the nursing profession?
It is evident that the nurse applies methods of observation and empirical knowledge in practice. It would be a challenge for nursing to be accepted as a profession if it were not based on scientific thought and knowledge. I think this holds true because of its close association with the medical profession. The essence of nursing is caring for human life and it is difficult to scientifically define “caring. Petus and Johnson (2008) refer to the “mysterious nature of nursing practice” (p. 116) perhaps needing a philosophical approach. From this week’s readings, it is evident that nursing is still evolving and trying to define itself. What sets it apart from other professions is how it draws upon so many other disciplines to holistically care for individuals, both physiologically and emotionally. Isaacs, Ploeg, and Tompkins (2009) raise a good point in that clinical nursing and the academic discipline of nursing are historically represented by differing philosophies. As nursing seeks to define a globally accepted basis for practice, both science and philosophy must be considered so the unique needs of caring for human beings will be supported by the worldview.t

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