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Philosophy for Nursing

The following is a purely hypothetical page describing a fictional course. But it could exist!

Contemporary nursing is increasingly challenging. But it is not merely technologically, scientifically or empirically testing. It is also conceptually difficult. An increasingly technological approach to intervention in and management of illness has also to be balanced with an ethics of care. But understanding that balance is not itself a matter for technology, nor ethics, alone.

Future – especially graduate entry – nurses will need to be able to think through fundamentally difficult issues and exercise complex judgements balancing different kinds of evidence and different perspectives and values; balancing general guidelines with individual people. That calls for skills and abilities in thought and judgement underpinned by a broader understanding of the fundamental intellectual tensions within healthcare today.

This short course comprises two sibling 10 CAT modules at levels 5 and 6 on ‘Conceptual Issues in Nursing’ and ‘Reflecting on Nursing Practice’.

Conceptual Issues in Nursing examines some key issues about the target of nursing care. What is illness or disease or disorder? Does mental illness even exist? Is illness a strictly biological factual notion or does it depend on values? And if diagnosis does depend on values, does this matter? Can it be used to characterise a distinctive recovery model? If so, what kind of argument can be offered for it? How do values impact on capacity? And is coercion ever justified?

The aim of this module is to give students a greater understanding of the concepts of illness and disorder in general to complement their knowledge of specific illnesses and disorders and approaches to treatment and management of those in their care..

Reflecting on Nursing Practice concerns three broader perspectives

  • Thinking about values

  • Thinking about evidence

  • Thinking about individuals

It aims to give students greater reflective understanding of the kind of thinking necessary for good nursing practice in these three broad areas and to stimulate an interest in continuing reflection and professional development.

Both modules draw on, and reflect, the published research of the course tutor.

There is a free-standing introductory lecture What use is philosophy for nursing?