Date of Award

Spring 1995

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Schank, Mary Jane

Second Advisor

Lough, Mary Ann

Third Advisor

Pier, Joanne


A nursing philosophy represents the value system of the profession, providing direction for the practice of nursing and the development of the profession. Nursing's professional values are articulated in the American Nurses' Association's Code for Nurses (I985). The Code gives direction for nursing activity in relation to individuals, society, and the profession. It is the nursing administrator who sets and maintains the climate of nursing practice by formalizing and operationalizing professional nursing values. The values are enumerated in a philosophy of nursing document from which priorities will be set, standards developed, and resources allocated. The purpose of this study was ,to describe which values articulated in the ANA Code for Nurses (1985) were reflected in the philosophy of nursing documents of 10 health care institutions. The 10 health care institutions were drawn from a convenience sample of all acute care and long term skilled care facilities in a midwest metropolitan area. The institutions ranged in size from 87 to 700 licensed beds, and had been in existence from 15 to 115 years. Content analysis was employed to identify value themes in the ANA Code for Nurses (I985). Each institutional philosophy was examined for the presence of these Code themes. A binary index was created to systematically record the presence or absence of the themes. The number of themes in each philosophy was enumerated according to the individual Code value statements. The 10 institutional philosophies varied in length from a few sentences to thirteen pages. Using content analysis, the philosophy documents studied were found to reflect values of the ANA Code (1985), ranging from one statement in one philosophy to seven Code statements reflected in three nursing philosophies. None of the philosophies contained themes reflecting all eleven of the Code statements. Every philosophy reflected the dignity and worth of individual humanness (Code statement # 1). Eighty percent of the philosophies contained exemplars of Code statement #6 (nursing judgement in clinical decision making and delegation). Code statement #10 (protecting the public) was not reflected in any philosophy, and Code statement #11 (collaboration to meet the health needs of the public) was reflected in only one philosophy. Three philosophies each reflected 64% (7out of 11) of the Code values. Two philosophies each reflected 9% (1 out of 11) of the values. As an organization of professionals, nurses have a well articulated philosophy of values in the ANA Code for Nurses (1985). The Code is an appropriate vehicle for the nurse administrator to use in grounding nurses to professional values. A well defined philosophy of nursing requires a commitment of time and involvement by all nursing service members. The result can be a document that captures the passion and imagination of nurses to make the vision of professional nursing a reality.