Nursing Professionalism: Definition and Examples

Nursing Professionalism

Introduction– Professionalism in nursing is not merely restricted to putting on the nurse uniform and communicating with patients and their family members. Amassing work experience in a challenging healthcare environment and opting for higher education also help in development of further opportunities that directly strengthen the core professional nursing values. In the field of nursing, professionalism provides a reflection of the act of delivering high quality patient care, while ensuing necessary steps are being taken to honour the values of patient autonomy, advocacy, respect, and responsibility (1). The act of professionalism also extends beyond the ability of a nursing professional to engage in effective communication and places an emphasis on reflecting upon the actions and behaviours. This helps nurses to strive for both personal and professional development. Nursing professionalism can be classified into three different categories namely, attitudinal, cognitive, and psychomotor. While cognitive professionalism places an emphasis on learning about professional conduct and applying it to practice, attitudinal dimension focuses on ideas and outlooks the guide the nurses during their job duties (2). In contrast, psychomotor domain helps nurses to build on their clinical expertise and improve their management capabilities (3). This essay will explore the meanings and characteristics related to nursing professionalism and will also discuss the factors that govern regular nursing practice.


Profession, professional and professionalism– The term profession refers to an occupation that is based upon expert educational training, the objective of which is to deliver unbiased objective guidance and provision to people, for a definite and direct reimbursement, exclusively apart from anticipation of other commercial profit. Some major characteristics of the term profession are cognitive base, licensing, institutionalised training, colleague control, work autonomy and code of ethics. Nursing profession is a core component of healthcare sector that places an emphasis on the care of families, communities, and individuals, with the aim of helping them maintain, attain or recover optimal quality of life and wellbeing (4). In other words, nursing profession encompasses advocating for the care of disadvantaged and ill population and also focuses on alleviating suffering and pain by promoting wellness and health, and preventing any illness. The word professional refers to an individual of a profession who earns a living from a particular activity and the term also labels the values of education and teaching that increase the skills and knowledge, required for adorning the particular role within that occupation. Nursing professionals are hands-on healthcare professionals who are entitled with the responsibility of delivering extremely personalised and focused care to people. Nurses work in different specialities and settings and are responsible for performing physical examination, delivering counselling an education, obtaining health/medical history, and coordinating patient care (5). Professionalism refers to the attitude, behaviour and conduct of a person in business or other occupational environment and requires manifestation of ethical behaviour, expertise, skills, and confidence. In contrast, nursing professionalism is a multifaceted, inevitable, dynamic and varied procedure that requires nurses to demonstrate necessary knowledge and capability to implement it to their practice. Moreover, it also necessitates the presence of adequate accountability for care delivered and its implication, demonstration of a spirit of inquiry, and recognising the autonomy of patients (6).

Factors– There are few professions that offer similar advantages as nursing profession such as, respect in the community, working in collaboration with interesting individuals, and most significantly affecting the lives of numerous people in a positive manner, often by saving their lives. One major factor that governs the claim to nursing profession is the fact that nurses have the authority and capability of preventing any adverse health outcomes, and save lives of ill and injured people. Nursing is commonly considered as an opportunity that helps the professionals to bring about a significant difference in the life of affected and disadvantaged people through prevention and care (7). Moreover, nursing is also viewed as a rewarding profession that provides the nurses the regular opportunity to enhance the quality of life of all patients. Another significant factor can be accredited to the fact that for nursing professionals, all days at their workplace do not appear same. Every single day they have to organise meetings with different patients and their family members, with the former suffering from a range of health concerns. Therefore, nurses are expected to effectively handle challenges with each passing day and this motivates people to pursue the profession. Nurses are appointed in the well-respected business of health and social care. Nursing has been identified as one of the most respected occupation all across the globe and this desire for receiving respect often motivates people to join the profession (8). Moreover, health and social care sector has been identified as a stable industry, therefore nurses do not have any insecurities or apprehensions regarding their job. The desire to engage in continuous learning also controls wish to work as nursing professionals since every new challenge encountered by nurses directly translate to a learning experience. Additionally, the aspiration to listen to the worries and preferences of the patient, and the wish to put an end to their sufferings also encourages people to work as nursing professionals (9).

Day to day practice and associated responsibilities– Registered nurses provide care to a range of patients, ranging from the injured to the ill. However, nursing professionals also specialise in different areas and provide care particularly to a specific group of patients. While working as nursing professionals, they are expected to deal with quite a lot of patients on a daily basis. Their day to day activities generally encompass administration of medical care, answering all patient questions, and effectively communicating concerns and worries to the supervisor (10). In addition, the regular practice of a nurse also comprises of recording and observing the patient behaviour, while performing extensive diagnostic tests and physical examination. Additionally, nurses also engage in providing education to patients about proposed treatment plan, while interpreting patient information and making necessary clinical decisions. Not only are they required to direct and supervise the care of junior nursing staff, but are also expected to regularly engage in conducting extensive research for enhancing patient outcomes and quality of life. The aforementioned daily practice of nurses provide a reflection of clear professional standing since they display a nurse’s inclination for being flexible and making necessary negotiations for the greater benefit of patients. Additionally, the daily activities also enhance nursing professionalism by allowing the nurses to navigate the occupational challenges that they might encounter in future (2). Moreover, their duties also help them implement the standards of professional conduct, with the aim of enhancing their leadership skills. This in turn reflects their professional standing since the nurses are able to guide their actions by using value decisions, and are also able to effectively initiate self-directed obligations to deliver the highest quality of patient care (11). The key responsibilities associated with this profession are namely, demonstration of a compassionate and caring nature, display of excellent observational skills, and capability of dealing with pressured and emotionally charged circumstances, developing resilience and stamina, and manifesting excellent written and verbal communication skills. Moreover, they are also held responsible for developing and delivering customised and tailored care plans, while fostering a harmonious environment that makes the patients feel protected.

Challenges encountered and strategiesNursing professionals play an integral role in the health and social care sector. Nonetheless, adorning the role of a nurse is not without any challenge. The demanding profession requires extensive commitment and dedication from the professionals (1). Regional differences do arise in nursing compensation that results in discrepancy in the earnings of nurses residing in different regions of the world, thereby creating differences in their socioeconomic status. Workforce shortage is another significant problem that leaves the nurses with no other option apart from working long shifts and compensating for the absence of their colleagues (11). This creates a significant impact on their social life and causes nursing burnout. Long shifts are extremely detrimental and affect the quality of the services that they deliver, besides putting their health and wellbeing at risk. This often leads to chronic pain in shoulder, leg and back, in addition to long term conditions like cardiovascular complications and diabetes. In addition, they are continually exposed to blood, bodily fluids and other potential toxic materials. Inaccurate usage and disposal of sharps and needles and poor ergonomics also threatens their health and safety.

It is necessary for nurses to be vocal about their wages by initiating effective communication with the employers. Negotiating the pay rate and being rewarded for their success are essential. In order to prevent workplace hazard, nurses must collaborate with carers, line managers, and supervisors and maintain continuous awareness and vigilance. Developing strong rapport with the employer and colleagues will help in gaining flexible work schedules. Following a healthy lifestyle, prioritising works based on their urgency and maintaining a good work-life balance will also reduce burnout and stress (12). In order to avoid feelings of isolation, nurses must engage in open communication with the co-workers, and share their experiences and opinions. This will act in the form of a therapeutic release and improve the workplace environment.

Description of practice environment– My experience suggests that nursing profession is one of the most undervalued occupations in recent times. Adorning the role and responsibility of a nursing professional is not easy, and the professional field is tremendously demanding. Moreover, I also believe that nursing profession is often unforgiving to the individuals who pursue it. Always being in proximity to the frail and the ailing patients for several hours is intimidating and thought-provoking, to mention the least. This is in contrast to the wider definition since it places an emphasis on the respectable nature of the job and the significant role that nurses play in saving people’s lives. Colleagues often hold the opinion that all nurses are expected to be not only sympathetic and accommodating, but also proficient in making challenging pronouncements and directing the correct care plan to patients, when senior nurses and physicians are not present (13). Despite the commonly accepted notion that nursing education plays an importance role in ensuring hassle-free delivery of care services to the patients, there exist particular characteristic potentials that make one nursing professional superior than the other. I believe that as nurses, we are required to adopt a professional attitude in our approach while maintaining patient records, attending to the patients, or administering interventions. This reflects the importance of avoiding any generalisations or assumptions, in relation to the gender, appearance, race, age, or other demographic variable of the patients.

The experience by far has helped in understanding that there might arise situations when it becomes difficult to deliver care based on the preferences and demands of the patients. However, wider definition requires all nurses to consider each patient as a unique entity, who is worthy of being addressed with dignity and respect (11). Personal description and that of colleagues are also in accordance to the wider definition, in relation to identifying the importance of exceptional communication skills. This skill is not merely an option but a necessity for all nursing professionals since they are only able to effectively solve patient’s concerns if they engage in meaningful conversations with the patients and their family members.

Modifications– Several modifications have occurred in the nursing profession over the year. With the advent of nursing profession, not much focus was placed on formal training. Females used to typically learn skills related to nursing from their elders or people in the same profession, and they were considered as caretakers. In other words, nursing profession was viewed as an extension of the role of females at their home. However, drastic changes have occurred in the nursing profession in recent years. More emphasis is nowadays being placed on training programs (14). Moreover, the profession now comprises of a diversified staff and is also associated with high level of prestige, which was not relevant before. Nursing training provisions was rudimentary during the initial years of the profession (16). Additionally, the sick was provided care either by their family members or mothers, or not by any external healthcare provider. In recent times, nursing qualifications are extremely specialised and in-depth. A range of nursing specialities, degrees, programs and certifications need to be qualified, prior to joining the profession. Nurses actively engage in activities where they are required to adorn several roles and responsibilities that before, and are treated with respect and veneration, owing to the hands-on application of their capabilities and extensive schooling (15). With the ever-increasing demand for care delivery, it is now expected that nursing professionals will have necessary skills and competencies for effectively handling medical emergencies, without the supervision or interference of a physician. During the early 20th century, nursing culture was considered exclusive to females and a focus was placed on acting respectfully and being presentable (14). However, in recent years the domain of nursing professionalism has emphasised on healthcare knowledge and education. Gender norms have also been diversified and an increase has been observed in nursing salaries, which in turn can be accredited to workforce shortage that is a direct consequence of retiring baby boomers.

Advantages and disadvantagesNursing professionals act in the form of backbone of the wide health and social care industry and are reconsider as the frontline personnel, in relation to developing and delivering health solutions. While several nurses may still follow the traditional norms of the profession, for most, the occupation has changed in dramatic ways, which is particularly advantageous to the wider community. Traditional nursing was generally restricted in the approaches that were utilised for providing treatment to the patients (14). Characteristically, there are procedures and policies that direct the responses, actions, and conduct of a traditional nurse. Therefore, apart from the conventional medical treatment, advice, comfort, and compassion there was little that the traditional nurses could do, with the aim of alleviating the pain and suffering of their patients (17). This is contrast to holistic nursing, where the nurses typically focus on different elements of mind-body-spirit approach. The advantage of modern nursing is that it considers the patient as a complete entity and is based on the opinion that all components significantly contribute to the overall wellbeing and health of the patient (15). Moreover, another basic advantage of this nursing can be attributed to the importance that it places on assessment of social support and psychosocial status. Modifications to traditional nursing promotes health and wellness by fostering a calming and stress-free atmosphere. Moreover, patient care through technological advancements has gained attention in recent times. Technological advancements have not only improved communication between nurses and patients, but have also enhanced knowledge and proficiency, thus increasing the likelihood of better patient outcomes.

Impediments– Some of the factors that act as impediment to obtaining nursing professional status are namely, (i) recruitment and retention, (ii) technology race, (iii) communication and patient culture, (iv) employee engagement, (v) resistance to change, and (vi) self-care. There has been an ever-increasing demand for nursing professionals since the last decade owing to the increased emphasis that is gradually being placed on preventive care and the snowballing rates of chronic health conditions. Proficient baby boomer nurses are gradually retiring from the health and social care sector, thereby putting a pressure on the organisations to recruit more nurses (18). It is imperative for registered nurse, nurse managers, chief nursing officers, and floor nurses to remain abreast of healthcare technology and efficiently adopt the systems, which have been found effective in enhancing patient health status. However, lack of technological skills act as a major impediment and hinder the care delivery process. As a nursing professional, being sensitive and culturally aware to the values and philosophies of the patient is mandatory (19). However, lack of cultural competence leads to missteps in care delivery, thus worsening the health status of the patients (13). Poor employee engagement also occurs when there is no emotional investment in the profession. Moreover, workload and poor job satisfaction also decrease nurse engagement. With the aim of addressing the aforementioned impediments, more opportunities need to be created in the healthcare settings, by providing best salaries to the nurses and allowing them to specialise in different fields. Nurses must also be trained to use different technologies like electronic medical records (EMR), patient scheduling systems or software platforms, in order to enhance communication between patients and providers (20). Nurses must also increase awareness of their cultural identification that will help them avert any personal bias. Moreover, nurses should also accept the patient’s condition and deliver care in a manner that is compliant with the requirements of the patient (11). In order to maintain an experienced and skilled nursing workforce, healthcare organisations are expected to make the nurses feel that they are an essential component of the team.

Conclusion– Thus, it can be concluded that nursing is one of the most demanding and exciting jobs in recent times. Nursing professionals take all possible efforts for promoting health, preventing disease, and providing assistance to all patients for coping with their illness. Nurses are expected to work in the form of health educators and patient advocates. While delivering holistic and direct care to the patients, nursing professionals have the responsibility of observing, assessing, and recording signs and symptoms of patients. Nurses develop effective collaboration with the physicians, at the time of medication administration and developing provisions for direct patient care. Nurses deliver care in an environment that is continually altering to deliver the best conceivable care to all patients. They engage in continuous education and learning about latest medications, evidence based practices, and healthcare technology. Owing to the fact that nursing professionals essentially spend more direct time with their patients, in comparison to than doctors or other healthcare professionals, they are particularly expert at interrelating with patients, thus making the latter feel at ease, and facilitating the process of recovery. The concept of nursing professionalism incorporates a set of standards and beliefs that are crucial for enhancing the excellence of care delivered to the patients, while taking necessary efforts for improving the standards, methods, and decisions that govern everyday nursing practice. Thus, functioning in professional environments often provides assistance to nurses to enhance and grow their expertise and skills that are appreciated at different phases of their professional career, beginning from trainee clinical roles to high-ranking leadership designations.