Professionalism in Nursing

To be a nurse is a calling and difficult to
describe in words. Who can say why a person
would want to do a nurses work, but those
who do will tell you there is nothing as
fulfilling or rewarding. Nurses stay by the side
of those they serve through the worst times
and celebrate with patients and families in the
best times.
Florence Nightingale is called the mother of
modern secular nursing. Born in 1820 in
Florence, Italy, this intelligent, upper-class
woman made dramatic and universal changes
in health care. At age 16, Nightingale was
called by God to minister to the sick.
In the winter of 2003, a random survey of
licensed nurses was conducted at Via Christi
Regional Medical Center. The survey asked
nurses throughout the organization to name
three characteristics that expressed what
professionalism was to them.
The top eight responses of over
300 surveys were as follows:
Knowledge (78)
Competence (53)
Appearance (48)
Teamwork (27)
Respect for others
Integrity (35)
Positive Attitude (28)
Compassion (18)
Nurses are required to maintain and develop
their professional knowledge and competence
in the many years of practice that may follow
registration. They are expected to have
knowledge, communication skills and the
ability to offer effective, safe, evidence-based
nursing in their field of practice.
Nursing competency ranked second in the Via
Christi survey. Some key features of nursing
competency are as follow:
 The ability to recognize common factors that
contribute to, and adversely affect, the
physical, mental and social well-being of
patients and clients, and be able to take
appropriate action.
The use of relevant literature and research to
inform the practice of nursing.
An appreciation of the influence of social,
political and cultural factors in relation to
health care.
An understanding of the ethics of health care
and the nursing profession and the
responsibilities these impose on the nurse’s
professional practice.
Though problems of intimidation exist, the
registered nurse is personally accountable for
his/her own practice – not a senior member of
staff, physician or other health care
professional. Remember the saying “but
he/she told me to do it” is never justification
for poor practice.
Respect for others, integrity and a positive
attitude also ranked high in the nursing survey.
This finding is not surprising, as it correlates to
Gallup’s 2003 annual survey in which nurses
were on the top for honesty and ethics among
various professions, followed by other medical
professionals like doctors, pharmacists,
veterinarians and dentists.
As nurses embrace the future, what is your vision
for the nursing profession? This author believes
it will be interactions that nourish our human
spirits in the places we live and work. Nurses
must be deliberate with time, energy and
resources as the profession works toward the
goal of quality nursing care.
New modalities of delivering care are yet to be
envisioned and coordinated – not only for
patients being served, but for each other.
Fundamental to the nursing professions’ future
is our ability to honor, respect and value each
other, as well as the inter-personal and interprofessional relationships.
Allows maturity and confidence to develop in
It allows the development of expertise and the
refinement of skills
It allows the nursing workforce to be responsive
to changes in the management of patients and in
meeting emerging care needs.
It supports role success and job satisfaction.
Employment as a nurse
Desire to improve standards in practice
To be the best in what you do.
Added value
To gain qualifications.
To enhance personal status.
There are many ways in which you can improve
your skills and increase your knowledge in
practice that will contribute to CPD
These include
Post Registration Education- University courses
eg OU, RCN.
Attending conferences
Training – On the job training, in-house training
courses, departmental training.
Secondments- short transfer to another
department or organisation
Shadowing, covering colleagues, acting up into a
senior role.
Reflective practice -acquisition of extended
Reading professional Journals eg Nursing
RCN Forums
Working across boundaries eg link nurse.
Having a knowledge about National and local
Health policies and directives.
To know even one life has breathed
easier because you have lived – this
is to have succeeded (unknown author).