Professionalism In Nursing – 5 Tips For Nurses
When you think of the essential qualities necessary to be a good nurse, what comes to mind? Many of us list traits such as good organisational skills, boundless compassion and the ability to perform under pressure, but one of the most important – and yet most difficult to define are the characteristics that makeup professionalism in nursing.
In any career, professionalism is a hot topic. But when it comes to nurse jobs, professionalism is integral to delivering quality care, ensuring effective resource allocation, team efficiency and workplace ethics. So, what exactly constitutes professionalism in nursing, and how can you ensure you incorporate this into everything you do as a nurse?
What is professionalism in nursing?
According to Jackie Smith, the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Chief Nursing Officer for England, professionalism should be a core value for any nurse. She says:
We engage with people from all walks of life at every point in their lifespan from birth, at the most trying time of people’s lives, and at the time of their death. I trust the professionalism report will engage you in a conversation about what it means to be a professional nurse or midwife
A nurse’s professionalism is judged based on personal behaviours, appearance, presentation, and so on. There are various qualities that all nursing professionals should seek to emulate in order to maintain professionalism, including positive attitude, compassionate patient interactions, professional responsibility, teamwork and integrity.
Let’s take a look at each one in more detail.
1. Positive attitude
The first, and perhaps most obvious quality that any health care practitioner will need in order to maintain professionalism in nursing is a positive attitude. The last thing a worried patient – or, indeed, an over-stretched consultant needs is a negative nursing team supporting them. As nurses, you are the face of the profession, and thus must work to maintain a positive environment and communication in all areas and at all times.
The pressures of nursing mean that it’s easy to become weighed down by specific individual problems. Professionalism in nursing requires a nurse to adopt a holistic and optimistic (yet still pragmatic) view on any situation, and always aim to help others above all else. It’s good practice to be able to anticipate when negative thoughts are approaching so that you can address the situation before it begins to have a negative impact on the rest of the nursing team.
2. Patient interactions
Nurses are the primary point of contact for every patient that comes through the door – whether it be a large hospital or a small GP surgery. Therefore it is paramount that every nurse is capable of interacting positively and productively with each patient. After all, they are with you for care and treatment, so you must treat them with the utmost dignity in every circumstance.
Your patient interactions should always convey compassion. You must be able to balance this with logic, in the sense of respecting a patient’s feelings – even if you do not agree with their choices – whilst knowing when it is necessary to step in and make decisions about their treatment. Every nurse must be happy to help others, following from the values of ‘goodness and caring’ that Florence Nightingale instilled in the profession.
3. Professional responsibility
A key element of professionalism in any career is the appropriate handling of responsibility. In healthcare, where people’s well-being and lives are in your hands, professionalism in nursing is paramount. A nurse has to care for patients, monitor their vital signs using delicate equipment and handle medication. You must take this very seriously at all times, by demonstrating an awareness of the consequences of a mistake and how to prevent them from occurring.
Professionalism in nursing also involves self-discipline. Whilst nurses are to an extent under the jurisdiction of their seniors, you must be self-motivated by keeping on top of your duties – from checking on a patient to ensuring medicine schedules are observed, self-discipline is essential in ensuring high standards of patient care.
Another element of professionalism in nursing is the willingness to learn and develop. In any field of healthcare, your education doesn’t end after you become registered – you must be interested in actively keeping up-to-date with the latest medical research and nursing best practice. To do this, you can check out the many nursing blog sites for the latest news.
Teamwork is central to any healthcare career. It’s essential for nurses to maintain collaborative and co-operative relationships with everyone from fellow nurses to doctors, consultants and porters. Regardless of your personal feelings towards a colleague, you must put your patients’ well-being first and work closely and effectively with each team member. This involves effective communication, taking the time to help others, and showing moral support and solidarity with your co-workers.
Finally, every nurse must maintain complete integrity throughout their career. This involves various different facets but largely has to do with a strong sense of purpose and the ability to do what is right in every situation.
Nurses must know when to compromise in conflicts, and when to stand up for their beliefs. They must be able to advocate for their patients and consult the appropriate people if they have any concerns within the workplace. However, they must also be self-aware and willing to assess where improvements can be made.
This, of course, involves honesty. You must be able to honestly explain to patients their diagnosis, prognosis and treatment, no matter how hard it is. Nurses also need to be humble enough to admit if they have made a mistake and put in the necessary steps to remedy the situation.
As Ellie Williams says, nurses must have a good sense of ethics, and be able to treat every patient equally, regardless of their age, race, gender, condition or socio-economic background. For example, she explains:
If a nurse has had difficult experiences working with geriatric patients, she must take care not to assume she’ll have trouble with every senior citizen she treats. Instead, she must view each patient as an individual, giving them the same respect and concern she would to a younger patient.
Here at Nursco, we have the highest standards of professionalism in nursing. If you would like to find out more about how you can develop your professional skills and nursing career with us, download the Nursco App or contact us today on 020 3954 1917.