Nursing Education: Philosophy of Teaching and Learning


At least, every individual has a personal philosophy regarding certain issues. This draws me to my personal philosophy of teaching and learning—the framework of beliefs and values about nursing education. I consider this philosophy paramount because it forms the basis of my values and beliefs that guide my decisions about teaching strategies, settings, outcomes, and role behavior. By using as many as seven dimensions, this paper presents my values and beliefs about teaching and learning in nursing education. I strongly believe and hope that the paper will act as a guide in creating an environment where high-quality teaching and learning take place.

Personal Philosophy of Teaching and Learning in Nursing Education

There is no doubt that a philosophy of teaching, just like that of nursing, can serve as an organizing framework that guides practice. In fact, just like any other philosophy, this philosophy also plays various significant roles. For instance, it guides the teaching curriculum, controls the environment where the teaching takes place, defines student characteristics and roles, and finally yet importantly, it highlights the aims and contents of course (Billings & Halstead, 2009).

As highlighted above, this paper is about my beliefs and values about teaching and learning in nursing education. Thus, I am going to consider various dimensions to deliver the point home. These dimensions include the nature of professional nursing practice, the importance of clinical teaching versus classroom teaching, the role of nursing students in the classroom environment, and the clinical settings. Other dimensions that I will present in this paper is the relationship between practice and evaluation in the clinical setting, the focus of clinical teaching and learning, the espoused versus the in-use curriculum, quality versus quantity in the classroom, and clinical setting (O’Connor, 2006).

The nature of professional nursing practice

There is one unique thing that differentiates nursing as a profession from other academic professions, and that is the practice element. In most cases, this is what defines nursing, as a profession. Gaberson and Oermann (2007) defines a professional as “an individual who possesses expert knowledge and skill in a specific domain, acquired through formal education in institutions of higher learning and through experience, and who uses that knowledge and skill on behalf of society by serving specified clients” (p. 7). Thus, from the two analogies, nursing is a practice element indeed.

There are so many publicities, which explain the code of conduct of nursing as a profession. For example, The Nursing’s Social Policy Statement describes one of the most crucial roles of professional nursing in the society and health. On the other hand, the Nursing’s Social Policy Statement guides the social responsibilities of the nursing discipline and profession. One of the key elements of the document is the principle that nurses have a social contract with the society. It essentially articulates the commitment of nurses to utilize responsibly resources at their disposal in providing nursing care services to the society, which are not only efficient, safe and holistic, but also patient centered (American Nurses Association, 2010).

The practice of nursing occurs under the social contract, which acts like a body regulating all operations falling within the practice. This contract also recognizes the rights, privileges and responsibilities of nursing professionals as well as mechanisms for communal answerability (ANA, 2010). Thus, the nursing profession fulfills society’s needs with qualified and prepared nurses who develops and maintains an ethical code of practice (LaSala, 2009; Milton, 2008; Milton, 2010). I believe that this is the main reason for the existence of the nursing profession. The good thing is that the society has always acknowledged the needs and benefits of nursing services, and allows nurses to function autonomously with self-regulation. Accordingly, the nature of the professional nursing practice should reflect this accountability to the society.

Additionally, I believe we should incorporate elements such as critical thinking and problem solving, alongside skills and professional in clinical education. This will definitely enhance quality service delivery. Furthermore, I believe communication, teamwork and collaboration between students, are imperative elements to emphasize during classroom teaching and clinical setting, in order to prepare students for practice with multidisciplinary teams in clinical areas in the future.

The importance of clinical teaching vs. classroom teaching

Since nursing is a practice profession, I believe that clinical teaching is important for the nursing profession. In most cases, nursing students spend long hours in nursing and simulation labs as compared to the one spent in classroom teaching. Undoubtedly, clinical teaching provides students with real life examples that eventually guide them to transition from the classroom teaching to clinical settings. However, we cannot underestimate the value of classroom teaching, as students use the knowledge gained from classroom teaching in doing clinical activities (Gaberson & Oermann, 2010). Therefore, I believe that the congruence between the materials taught in classrooms teaching and clinical teaching will be a key element in facilitating successful transition.

The role of nursing students in the classroom and the clinical settings

The role of nursing students in both classroom and clinical settings is to be an active learner, actively engage in the learning process, and accept responsibility for contributing in discussions and participate in classrooms and clinical settings (Billings & Halstead, 2009). In addition, with the help of the faculty staff members, the student should invest their time wisely in identifying learning needs and work collaboratively in negotiating their learning experiences (Billings & Halstead, 2009). Additionally, students must assume an active role in seeking out what they want and need to learn from faculty and clinical instructors (Billings & Halstead, 2009). Therefore, I believe that that the faculty should facilitate a comfortable environment where students can relate to the faculty staff as a mentor/colleague rather than someone in authority.

The relationship between practice and evaluation in the clinical setting

I also believe that there is a thin line between practice and evaluation. More specifically, both students and faculty staff members should exercise caution not to mix or misinterpret the difference between the two, practice and evaluation. I also propose sufficient time for students in order to enable them practice nursing that is more practical (Gaberson & Oermann, 2010). Additionally, just like classroom evaluation, I believe that the faculty staff members should evaluate nursing students on their practice skills. This approach will facilitate the nurturing of a learning environment where students are eager to learn by asking questions. Through this approach, students will know that making mistakes is part of the learning process, and eventually evaluation will be more successful for those students.

The focus of clinical teaching and learning

Clinical teaching and learning mainly provides the basic knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary in practice (Gaberson & Oermann, 2010). Most importantly, the faculty staff members should emphasize real life situations and common practice problems encountered by clinicians for students to benefit. Moreover, I believe that faculty need to focus mainly of on the essential curriculum, and tutors should assist students whenever there is need for further knowledge. If need arises, stakeholders can make an academic judgment and refine the curriculum to comply with modern nursing practice. However, I believe it is also important to consider elements such as the pass of licensure or certification examination and safe practice as requirements for graduation.

The espoused vs. the in-use curriculum

Perhaps to differentiate the two, an espoused curriculum is the agreed upon curriculum in the school which includes the course syllabus and the evaluation tools, while the in-use curriculum is the one applicable in classroom environments (Gaberson & Oermann, 2010). I believe the two curricula are imperative in the practice of nursing. However, matching the two will even prove efficient, as students will have more time to invest in their studies and practice.

Quality vs. Quantity in the classroom and clinical setting

I believe that quality is far more important than quantity in both classroom and clinical settings. However, due to the ever-expanding knowledge, many people have recognized that classroom teaching does not offer students everything on a particular area or topic. Notably, if students receive quality information on areas of interest, then the probability of living up to the task to offer quality services is high. On the other hand, in clinical settings, although we track the quantity of hours spent in a clinical setting, quality is much more important where students spend up to eight hours without learning or doing any skills. At the same time, students can spend less than eight hours and focus on mastering three specific skills competently. In other words, faculty should invest quality time in helping student reach their goals and that is essentially important than quantity (Gaberson & Oermann, 2010).


I am enthusiastic to continue exploring innovative strategies of enriching the teaching of nursing. I hope that my values and beliefs will guide students and faculty staff members alike to create an environment where high-quality teaching and learning take place.

Reference List

American Nurses Association. (2010). Nursing’s social policy statement. (2010 ed.). Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association.

Billings, D.M. & Halstead, J.A. (2009). Teaching in Nursing. A Guide for Faculty. (3rd ed.). St. Louis, MO. Saunders Elsevier.

Gaberson, K. & Oermann, M. (2010). Clinical teaching strategies in nursing (3rd Edition). New York: Springer Publishing Company.

O’Connor, A.B. (2006). Clinical Instruction and Evaluation: A Teaching Resource. (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Oermann, M. H., & Gaberson, K. B. (2009). Evaluation and testing in nursing education (3rd ed.). New York: Springer Publishing.

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