Professional Nursing Practice:
Craven and Hirnle, (2009) suggest that in general professions have a knowledge base and a collection of skills and values that distinguish one from another. Knowledge base, power and authority over training and education, registration, altruistic service, a code of ethics, lengthy socialisation and autonomy are the seven qualities that have been recognized as being the characteristics of a profession (McEwen & Wills, 2007).
The question of whether nursing is a profession has been an ongoing debate. The need for higher education, a specific body of knowledge, increased public interest and responsibility and internal organisation are among several standards proposed to assess nursing's professional status. As the specific body of knowledge has become comprehensible and more accurately defined nursing roles have expanded and become more specialised. This furthered and specialised education, improved autonomy in practice, increased levels of research activity; accountability and responsibility have contributed to and enhanced the development of professionalism in nursing. (Craven & Hirnle 2009).
The conduct of nurses is guided by various codes that inform professional conduct. The New Zealand Nursing Organisation, (2007) insinuate that the crucial responsibility of professional practice is to become perceptive of how differing personal, social and cultural characteristics might impact on our relations with a client or our professional decision making. It is suggested the formation of a familiar, entrusting relationship is the token of professional practice. Nurses need to get familiar enough to the patient emotionally to begin to understand and appreciate the human nature of their difficulties; however, it is important to avoid getting too involved in the patients experience so we can continue to distinguish separate feelings.
"Nursing is a multi-faced profession, and as such, has been defined in many ways" (Craven & Hirnle, 2009, p. 38). Widespread themes are obvious, holism, caring, teaching, advocacy, supporting, promoting, maintaining and restoring health are all components of professional nursing practice regardless of numerous definitions. The profession is subject to misconception because definitions of nursing are reflected by society's values and influences. As a profession nursing has advanced over the centuries and continues to grow as a reaction to societies needs (Craven & Hirnle, 2009). I have come to an understanding that the term 'professional nursing practice' is not relatively simple to define; it is a complex and widespread concept that involves caring for communities and populations of people and addressing issues with far reaching social implications, it means being socially responsible, involved, and committed to the health of all people (Craven & Hirnle, 2009).
Craven and Hirnle, (2009), suggest that nursing is caring, dedication and devotion to providing the health functional requirements of all people. This care is directed by nurses to promote, maintain and restore health in various settings within a functional framework. The New Zealand Nursing Organisation, 2001 suggest that caring is the ethical foundation of nursing and is a further involvement further outside the charge whilst on duty. Care is positioned as the characteristic that distinguishes nursing from other health related activities; however it is a complex and multidimensional concept (Jackson and Borbasi 2000).
The ethics of caring is the core of nursing in the health experience and is described as intentional acts based on the welfare of another, an affective dimension of nursing in which the nurse experiences a concern for, a mind set and moral imperative, attitudes, beliefs, values and moral basis
(Watson, 1988; Swanson, 1991,1999; Benner, 2000).
Upholding the theory that caring is a concept central to the practice of nurse is not only important for the profession, but is also highly significant for the recipients of that care. It makes sense that if nurses claim they are caring professionals they are obliged to find out what nurse caring means to patients and how nurse can demonstrate care for patients. Evidence suggests that patients too view caring as a perceptible concept and highly value it as an essential and healing aspect of their professional encounters with nurse, however, it contrasts to the ways nurses view caring, reflection on what is known about patients attitudes to nurse caring suggests that above all patients want a nurse who demonstrates caring through clinical and technical competence, as well as through interpersonal skills and increasingly, a person who keeps them informed along each step of their illness trajectory, including informing family and friends.
Care is most likely viewed by nurses as a resource to be allocated on basis of need rather than the ability to pay. These tensions are inherent in the working life of many nurses and compromise the ability of nurses to provide care in the way idealised by the profession. Caring is proclaimed and understood as the basis of modern nursing and nurses have produced vast amounts of literature on aspects of care and caring and how they may be applied in nursing context. Many nursing theorists have identified caring as the heart of nursing. As technology advances, society's healthcare needs increase in complexities and the demands of the healthcare system change.
Professional caring is a type of caring not available within the social worlds of the patient, but one available within a context of professional caring. "Ultimately, it is the patient who must judge whether we care" (Lumby, 2001, p. 144). While the concept of professional caring is difficult to articulate it is recognised as being a complex concept involving the development of a range of knowledge, skills and expertise. Professional caring has similarities with non-professional caring and applies knowledge derived from various discipline areas to promote the health and wellbeing of people.
As a profession nursing is occupied and concerned with human relations. Nurses are prepared to identify and to assist with the healthcare needs of individuals, families, communities and populations.
Students embarking on professional nursing careers accept responsibility for society's healthcare needs and for the advancement of nursing as a profession. Never in nursing's history has there been a more opportune time to move the profession forward and make a difference in the healthcare of all people.