The term ‘professionalism’ can be explained through some improved characteristics, skills, and competence level, by which people can become more involved and incorporate the best efforts in their professional area. From the past few decades, people become familiar with this term professionalism, due to the accelerated growth and development of human societies. Besides this, in order to maintain competitiveness, it is required to become professional in the individual specialised area. Although professionalism is essential in every field, in the case of nursing, it is a vital part in enhancing the values and virtuousness associated with the roles and responsibilities of nursing. The nursing profession is oriented with personal appearance, presentation, behaviour, and professional characteristics, such as proficient practices and qualities. This essay focuses on the factors influencing nursing professionalism and the impacts of professionalism on the workplace as well as personal career.
I am working as a nurse in the Labour and Delivery (L&D) department at a tertiary care hospital, situated in the Middle East. My nursing experience is approximately for 12 years. Since I have worked in this department for a long time, therefore, I feel that professionalism is highly required for developing my career. In my department, there are total 6 assessment beds, 11 delivery rooms, and 6 bedded Induction room.
In order to enhance the skills of professionalism, people need to focus on a number of associated aspects, such as skills, control, self-regulation, and knowledge. Besides this, through the word professionalism, the activities performed by a person for conforming the ethical and technical standards can also be defined. A set of goals, characteristics, or codes of ethics, all can be represented by the term ‘professionalism’. People sometimes get confused among the words ‘profession’ and ‘occupation’, therefore, in many cases, they use these two words interchangeably. However, according to the statement of Carpenter (2018), profession implies the specific area of individual education, based on which they can determine their future goals or careers, whereas occupation is the field from where people can earn money for survival. Thus, it can be assumed that people need to follow a longer process of professionalization for being professional in their chosen area of work.
In the case of nursing professionalism, Tanaka et al. (2016) stated that people need to adhere to the intellectual growth and development, by maintaining an accurate degree of responsibility. People also need to provide their attention on improving both their practical and theoretical field, for managing any types of complex situation emerged in the workplace. Professional nurses need to enhance their group-consciousness for becoming an active and efficient member of the healthcare team, as healthcare systems are entirely dependent on the collaborative nature and teamwork. A number of criteria are required to be addressed in the nursing profession, such as understanding professional nursing standards, codes of ethics, high level of intellectual functionalities, specialised practical knowledge, skills of crisis management, and high level of accountability (Park and Oh, 2014).
Being professional in a nursing career is vital as it helps people to understand the importance of maintaining nursing values and disciplines. Nurses need to consider a number of characteristics in order to enhance professionalism, such as autonomy, adherence to the professional and ethical standards, application of evaluation theory, effective communication, education and competency, and participation in problem-solving and decision-making process. Based on the statement of Dehghani et al. (2016), professional nurses also require to involve in the continuous research and development programs for improving the community services. Apart from this, in order to enhance professional characteristics, nurses need to involve with the CPD programs or Continuing Professional Development programs, through which they can learn developing professional skills throughout their entire career.
CPD can be explored as a process of continuous updating the professional skills and knowledge along with the improvement of the professional competency standards. CPD provides commitments of being professional, remaining up-to-date, and maintaining improvement, for providing best care quality to the patients and improving their personal career as well as wider professions. As opined by Westrick (2016), CPD programs are associated with relevant, current, available, accessible, adult-learning, and evidence-based principles. Nurses need to actively participate in the CPD programs for personal satisfaction, increasing knowledge of innovative techniques, and achieving self-assurance from continuing education. Besides this, improvement in patient care outcome associated with professional behavioural practices is another primed result of CPD programs (Ahn and Song, 2015).
Since professionalism is related to various skills and competence standards, therefore, it can be stated that several factors can influence the process of professionalization. The factors can also be divided into internal and external factors that can influence the characteristic-based development of nurses. For example, a centralised internal factor is the level of nursing education. In the case of nurses having a proper educational background or having extensive practical and theoretical knowledge, can become more professional or understand the standards of professionalism more quickly than the others. Employment status is another internal factor, which has a direct impact on the professional behaviour of nurses. Fulltime nurses provide more attention to their roles and responsibilities than the half-time or contractual nurses. Along with the employment status, types of employment is also relevant with professional skills and competence level. Such as nurses doing the internship, servicing contracts or trail employment does not have the standard level of knowledge for maintaining the professional nursing standards (Tanaka et al. 2014).
Apart from the above, experienced nurses can more easily and readily adopt the professionalization of nursing compared to the inexperienced or trainee nurses. Besides this internal factors, organisational infrastructure also plays a role in the professional development of nurses. Healthcare organisations offering frequent training and orientation facilities can professionally update the expertise skills and characteristics of individual nurses. In-service training of specific updated techniques and innovative area of healthcare a proper workplace environment, from where nurses can obtain proper work-life balance, is beneficial for improving the professional skills of nurses. Furthermore, official and unofficial conferences and meetings are also supportive in this case, however, nurses need to actively participate in the meetings. As opined by Cho and Kim (2014), effective and skilled nurse leaders can motivate their followers towards their professional duties and responsibilities.
Additional to the above mentioned internal and external factors, several political and economic factors also influence the process of professionalization. For example, organisational infrastructure is highly dependent on the supportive actions taken by the local government or council committees, including maintenance of financial and legal support. Professional nurses need to maintain all the relevant legal aspects by understanding the laws and regulations associated with the care service system. Besides this, Tanaka et al. (2017) opined that self-awareness plays a contributory role in the nursing profession, as it can improve self-esteem, self-actualisation, and emotional well-being. Nurses can focus on professional characters in order to develop their self-image, as it is highly relevant to the area of personal development. Therefore, it can be stated that professionalism requires personal development, which is also dependent on the psychological growth of human. Ghadirian et al. (2014) mentioned that thought process, surrounding environment, cognitive area, and social learning process can also influence the professional development of nurses. In order to maintain personal integration with professionalism, nurses need to maintain some influencing factors like self-acceptance, self-assertiveness, purposeful and conscious living, and self-responsibility.
As mentioned earlier, professionalism is beneficial in case of developing personal skills and efficiency level, which is essentially required for the growth of the nursing career. In the case of career development, professionalism can improve personal characteristics, like collaboration, teamwork, and ways of communication. Nurses need to work collaboratively as they require handling different types of critical crisis condition for the well-being of their patients. Due to this reason, they need to learn the importance of teamwork as well as collaborative practices, which is a part of professional development Karimi et al. (2014). Besides this, communication is also required for maintaining the collaboration, as nurses need to professionally share all of the collected information about the service users to the other members of the healthcare team. Therefore, in the case of information sharing, formal communication would be required, which can be learned by nurses during professionalization. Communicational improvement can also help nurses in improving the nurse-patient relationship, as they can easily understand which types of communication is required for distinct types of clients (Fantahun et al. 2014).
The process of professionalism can also improve the level of self-esteem and self-confidence, which is a vital integrated part of personal development. Nurses become confident about their roles and responsibilities towards their patients and also focus on understanding their needs and expectations from the organisation and the healthcare system. The concept of professional development of professionalism can also improve the occupational opportunities of nurses, as they can get better chances and achieve upper position after improving their professional skills. High position in occupation can help them in earning higher salaries, which can be considered as the main moto of professional development (Kim, 2016).
Apart from personal development, organisations also obtain benefits from the professionalization process associated with the nursing career. Professional nurses can handle the patients and their family members through a professional way, which can improve the effectiveness of entire care service operations. Besides this, according to the statement of Kang et al. (2015), improvement in professionalism can also enhance the quality of care services, which is beneficial for improving the patient health outcomes. Therefore, it can be stated that professionalism can improve the external image of healthcare organisations.
Professional nurses and other caregivers also understand the process of maintaining individual requirements by aligning them with professional codes of ethics and professional nursing standards. Therefore, it can be stated that professional nurses can also help in the development of a better organisational culture along with the effective operational process, by incorporating professional standards and positive professional characteristics among the team members. Besides this, Gu and Lee (2015) mentioned that professionalism also has an indirect relationship with the operational process of healthcare organisations. It has been evidenced that financial stakeholders want to invest in the processes of healthcare organisations, who have more professional and skilled workforce.
Based on the above discussion, it can be concluded that nurses need to actively participate inthe professional development programs for increasing their job-related opportunities and also improving personal skills. Besides this, nursing professionalization also helps in improving the image of healthcare organisations. However, due to the vast and dynamic area of professionalism cannot be explored entirely, therefore, nurses need to focus on improving their inner skills and competence level for being professional during their duties. Besides this, more effective evidence-based approaches are required to analyse and evaluate for understanding the way of maintaining professionalism while dealing with various types of patients.
Professionalism can be considered as one of the most relevant and necessary parts of the personal and professional development of nurses, however, nurses need to focus a number of internal and external factors for improving their professional characteristics. Among the internal factors, educational background is one of the considerable factors. Besides this, employment status and types of employment are also relevant factors of the nursing profession. Apart from this, among the external factors, organisational factors can influence the professional and personal development. For example, an organisation having a positive workplace environment and offering in-service training can be considered as more professional compared to the other healthcare organisations.
The professionalism of nursing practices is beneficial in both personal skill and organisational development. In the case of personal development, nurses can learn the importance of self-esteem and self-confidence level, which can enhance their efforts in care service delivery. Besides this, it is also evidenced that professional nurses can effectively collaborate and communicate with their other team members, which improves the patient health outcomes. The collaborative workplace culture is beneficial for improving the organisational reputation in the entire healthcare sector. However, since professionalism is a vast area, therefore, determining or defining this area is quite difficult. Besides this, as the health requirements of people are changing with the on-going time, therefore, it can be stated that nurses need to focus on the continuous professional development for meeting the needs of service users and the organisational demands.