How to Write a Philosophy Statement

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Philosophy statements are popular in such fields as education, nursing and business. If you major in one of these fields, you may have to write a statement for class, or you might have to write one as part of a job application. The philosophy statement expresses your values and explains how you would demonstrate those values professionally. In that way, it helps potential employers get to know you and decide whether you would or would not be a good fit for a job.

1 Description of Purpose

Cornell University advises prospects to begin their statements by defining the field’s purpose in the first paragraph or two. For example, writing about a teaching philosophy, you may say that education exists to help students become better citizens because it teaches them to verify information and question assumptions. For nursing, you may say the field provides comfort to people in difficult times. For business, you may say the company you wish to join adds value to people’s lives by selling a time-saving product. Once you have defined the purpose, you then need to explain why that purpose matters. Provide examples from your previous experience. If you do not have experience, use hypothetical examples.

2 Description of Values

In the "Journal of School Nursing," Janice Denehy, Ph.D., suggests you research the codes for your profession, like the American Nurses Association code for nurses, to learn the field’s values. Or you could learn these values from class or general knowledge of the career. Choose one or two of those values that are most important to you to describe in the next paragraph. For education, you may choose critical thinking or self-mastery to promote better citizenship. Nurses may choose compassion or confidentiality to help patients cope. Business people may choose customer service or efficiency to better position the company's product and improve lives. Once you have defined your values, use examples to show why those values are so important.

3 Practicing Those Values

Next, describe how you will -- or how you already -- practice those values in one or two paragraphs. For example, a current or aspiring educator could describe classroom activities and assignments -- like researching different political positions on an issue -- that promote critical thinking. Nurses could describe challenging situations, such as remaining compassionate with difficult patients. Business people may show how they would maintain customer satisfaction if a new product failed to live up to expectations. Use several examples for each value or tell a short story about how to handle hypothetical situations.

4 Maintaining the Code

In the final paragraph or two, describe how you will monitor yourself. You will likely be evaluated by your supervisors in your new position, but those who continually self-evaluate and strive to meet high personal standards are usually considered more valuable. Educators might rely on student evaluations each semester. Nurses could ask for feedback from patients in the course of their duties. Business people could use satisfaction surveys if they deal with the public or could judge themselves based on weekly or monthly performance reports if management provides those. Show how you will deal with positive and negative feedback in this section.

Residing in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Buddy Shay has been in higher education since 2003 with experience in the classroom and in academic support. He holds a Master of Arts in English. Shay is also a certified practitioner of the MBTI personality instrument and has previous experience working with secondary students.