Existentialism philosophy in nursing education

Article Type : Editorial


Nursing Research Center, Golestan University of Medical Sciences, Gorgan, Iran

Existentialism, as a philosophical movement, places great emphasis on the concepts of individual freedom, choice, and responsibility [1, 2]. In the context of nursing education, the principles of existentialism can be effectively applied by urging students to acknowledge and appreciate the unique experiences and perspectives of each patient [3]. By adopting a holistic and individualized approach to care, nurses can better cater to the specific needs of their patients [4]. One key principle of existentialism that can be integrated into nursing education is the emphasis on the individual. By encouraging students to recognize that each patient is a distinct individual with their own set of values, beliefs, and experiences, nursing education can foster a more personalized and effective approach to care. Another important principle is the notion of freedom and responsibility. Existentialism highlights the idea that individuals possess the freedom to make choices, but they also bear the responsibility of taking ownership of those choices. In the context of nursing education, students can be encouraged to take responsibility for their actions and decisions when providing care to patients. Authenticity is yet another principle of existentialism that can be incorporated into nursing education. Existentialism promotes the idea of living authentically by staying true to oneself and one's own values. In nursing, this can be emphasized by stressing the importance of nurses being genuine and sincere in their interactions with patients, and by encouraging them to uphold their values and principles in their practice. Lastly, existentialism explores questions of meaning and purpose in life, and encourages individuals to find their own sense of meaning and purpose. In nursing education, students can be prompted to reflect on the meaning and purpose of their work as nurses, and how they can align their actions with their own values and beliefs. By integrating these key principles of existentialism into nursing education, students can develop a deeper understanding of the importance of individuality, freedom, responsibility, authenticity, and meaning in their practice. This, in turn, can contribute to the provision of more compassionate and patient-centered care [4-9]. Moreover, through the promotion of considering the distinct experiences and perspectives of each patient, existentialism can facilitate the cultivation of a profound sense of empathy and comprehension within nurses [10]. Consequently, this can enhance the caliber of care provided and foster more profound patient-nurse relationships [10, 11]. By placing emphasis on the individuality of every patient and acknowledging their values and beliefs, nurses can administer more personalized and comprehensive care that is tailored to the specific requirements and preferences of each individual [11, 12]. As a result, this can yield improved patient outcomes and satisfaction. The principles of existentialism advocate for the notion of individual freedom and responsibility, empowering nurses to take ownership of their actions and decisions in the provision of care [12, 13]. By engaging in self-reflection and introspection, nurses can acquire a deeper understanding of their own values and beliefs, thereby facilitating more genuine and meaningful interactions with patients. Furthermore, existentialism encourages individuals to confront existential questions pertaining to the meaning and purpose of life, which can aid nurses in developing resilience and coping mechanisms when faced with challenging circumstances [11, 12, 14]. By discovering their own sense of meaning and purpose in their profession, nurses can navigate difficult situations with a sense of determination and resolve [12, 14].

In sum, the integration of existentialist principles into nursing education can assist students in cultivating a more humanistic and compassionate approach to patient care, while also fostering personal growth and self-awareness. By encouraging nurses to perceive each patient as a unique individual with their own values and experiences, the philosophy of existentialism can engender more gratifying and meaningful interactions within the healthcare environment.





Authors’ contributions

Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work: HH; Drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content: HH; Final approval of the version to be published: HH; Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved: HH.



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Ethics approval and consent to participate

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Competing interests

We do not have potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and publication of this article.


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Volume 1, Issue 2
April 2024
Pages 61-62
  • Receive Date: 22 April 2024
  • Revise Date: 23 April 2024
  • Accept Date: 23 April 2024
  • First Publish Date: 23 April 2024
  • Publish Date: 23 April 2024