The Nursing profession, much like other professions, has unique binding values, attitudes and behaviors. This paper outlines these values and their significance to the nursing professionals in their daily practice. Two theories of nursing form the basis of this project. These theories are important since despite the evolving nature of the nursing profession over time due to technological advancements, the underlying principle of caring still serves as the major motivation for all nursing practitioners. Additionally, professional values form the basis for acceptable behavior and attitude in the nursing profession. The development of these values is critical for making important decisions in healthcare. Accordingly, the profession demands that nursing professionals exhibit certain attitudes and behaviors in carrying out their major role of caring. It is therefore evident that nursing is highly dependent on one's morals and a sense of responsibility to the client. Furthermore, members of the nursing profession belong to associations that support and regulate their activities. Finally, like other professions, nursing faces numerous challenges some of which are outlined in this paper.
Professional Values, Attitudes and Behaviors Associated with the Nursing Profession
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This paper focuses on Madeleine Leininger's theory of trans-cultural nursing and Hildegard Peplau's interpersonal theory of nursing. According to Leininger, the aim of the nursing profession is to offer care while appreciating the differences in the society. Health care personnel should therefore, work towards understanding the values, health beliefs, and life-styles of all cultures. The concept of empathy is presently part of the professional curriculum in nursing regardless of the nursing student's gender. Peplau on the other hand, views nursing as a maturing force that develops from educational and other interpersonal transitions. She defines the nurse-patient relationship as evolving through various stages of the caring process. Caring as an important component of human relationships is the basis of the nursing profession. It is an informed concern with entailing involvement that is more than benevolence, sympathy or compassion.
According to Masters (2009), nursing as a profession requires prolonged and specialized learning to acquire the relevant knowledge. He further adds that it demands full commitment of the individual towards public service. This profession, much like others has specific values that govern all nursing professionals. Nursing professionals who include nursing practitioners, consultant nurses and certified midwives belong to professional bodies that define these professional values as standards of behavior for acceptable action. These professional values adopted by nursing professionals act as the principles, ideals and standards they hold to give meaning and direction to their daily conduct. These values further provide a framework for evaluating the profession's beliefs and attitudes.
Fry, Veatch & Taylor (2010) suggest that values are the desirable rational conceptions, and standards that guide behavior. By adhering to this set of values, the nursing profession has developed a caring attitude towards its clients. These set values further provide the benchmark for critical thinking and decision-making in the course of practicing nursing. Moreover, these values also aid in conflict resolution and in prioritizing actions concerning patient's welfare. Nursing values intensify as the professionals grow through their career and face new challenges. Professional values influence behavior therefore, people lacking values in development, may miss direction, and critical thinking skills. The latter are momentous factors within the nursing field. In this sense, adherence to these principles in daily nursing practice can be a major problem for potential nurses who are not fully committed to the profession. The core values that form the foundation of the nursing profession are altruism, autonomy, human dignity and social justice (Fry, Veatch & Taylor, 2010).
Altruism is the ability for selfless and dedicating own life to the welfare of others. The nursing profession demands the practitioners to provide love and show kindness to all concerned parties. A nursing professional must further maintain calmness when with a patient to fully support and provide security. Indeed, this is important for the professional to prevent burnout and stress, which may impede carrying out the intended duty efficiently. In order to acquire and secure these humanistic values, the profession demands that one must exhibit unending love, kindness and mental awareness at all times. Altruism is essential in unlocking a nurse's compassion and empathy, crucial elements of the nursing profession (Johnstone, 2008).
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Nursing professionals take care of patients and in some instances endangering their lives. For example, they intervene to stop a violent patient to protect other patients at the risk of suffering physical harm. Furthermore, they give medicine to patients with contagious diseases while endangering their own lives in the process. However, the worry of contracting HIV and other related diseases has created fear amongst nurses and changed their attitude and behavior towards such patients. Cases of verbal abuse towards such patients are on the rise challenging the commitment to the profession's course. In nursing, altruism is the most important characteristic in the nurse-patient relationship to securing the most appropriate care and accommodative environment for healing. However, the changing medical environment has inherent risks that subject members of the profession to complicated situations. If a nursing professional is not fully committed to their patients, they may be susceptible these challenges causing the patient to suffer.
Johnstone (2008) affirms that, autonomy in the nurse-patient relationship, gives the patient a right to informed consent. The nursing professional gives the patient facts on his or her condition, and advises on the available of healing options not limited to some underlying repercussions. The patient then applies personage freedom to go through the procedure or resort to other alternatives. In cases where the patient is mentally unfit, a health care surrogate or an attorney authorized may make these resolutions. Therefore, patients have the right to refuse treatment and nurses are obliged to respect despite their contrary opinion. These should reflect the best interests of the patient whether made independently or on advice of the nursing professional.
However, this is not always observed due to selfish interests of members of the nursing profession. Collusion with doctors also results in giving misleading information to patients. The profession has also faced accusations of falsifying medical records to absolve itself from blame in medical malpractices. The professions role of advocacy for the patient to ensure they make well-informed decisions is therefore under siege due to unscrupulous activities by egocentric members. Friendly relationships with patients that should enhance discretion in decision-making are always misused resulting in cases of confidentiality violation and subsequent litigations.
Erasmus, Booyse & Zyl (2012) report that, the nursing profession demands dignity for all patients. All people are equal and they warrant the same treatment regardless of any external factors. The principle of human dignity accords the nurse the responsibility to treat all patients as they would treat their own loved ones if they were to care for them. Therefore, a nurse presumes all human beings as being worthy and deserving unconditional respect, regardless of age, sex, health status, social or ethnic factors, political ideologies, religious affiliation or criminal history (Erasmus, Booyse & Zyl, 2012). Still cases of racial discrimination are reported daily in our hospitals and medical centers (American Nurses Association, 2012).
The profession demands showing compassion and respect for the dignity of the individual. Factors such as personal traits, economic rankings and nature of the ailment are therefore inconsequential in the practice. For example, a nurse might not be comfortable with caring for an alcoholic client however; the nurse is ethically obligated to provide the best and most compassionate care possible. Nursing professionals must always be committed to the client at all times. In case the family and community are included in decision-making, the professional must be accommodative to their ideas whether even in cases where there are divergences. After giving any due advice expected of them, nurses must respect the client's wishes in the matter (American Nurses Association, 2012).
Nursing professionals conform to the principles of acting honestly, fairly and ethically, while sticking to their role of caring for the needy. They must uphold the highest standards of professionalism and ethical conduct. Nursing professionals must further be honest to their colleagues in the profession and to those who rely on them. Conversely, they must also exhibit accountability in providing safe and quality care to any given patient (Mc Sherry, Mc Sherry & Watson, 2012). However, the nursing profession is facing scandals related to submitting false claims for service and stealing from patients. This has significantly dented the image of the profession and reduced patient confidence in nurses.
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Nursing professionals are required to advocate for the rights of their patients, while not compromising their dignity (Masters, 2009). They endeavor to promote their clients' best interests to guarantee the best care to alleviate their patients suffering. They are required to act in a non-injurious manner concerning their patients. Through acting competently and adhering to high levels of practicing, they avoid situations that may cause injury to those in their care. If these core principles of the profession were being adhered to, scandals of malpractices involving doctor's collusion with nurse would be non-existent.
Fry, Veatch and Taylor (2010) argue that personal values, such as respect, responsibility, and obligation are dependent on the moral attitude of the nursing professional. Professional attitudes in nursing comprise of inclinations, feelings and emotions that conform to their principles and serve as the basis for their behaviors. Professional behavior however, is to attain optimal outcomes in one's tasks. The American Nurses Association and the congress have developed the acceptable codes of conduct expected of nurses in their practice (American Nurses Association, 2001). Nursing professionals comply with some standards of ethical practice that guide their behaviors. Regular revisions to the codes cover the changes in the work environment of nurses. Accordingly, the Nurses' Association approves provisions that address nursing practice elements.
These include aspects of compassion, commitment, patient advocacy and accountability amongst other duties. The association further addresses nurses' continued participation in the healthcare environment and ways of advancing the profession through active collaboration (American Nurses Association, 2001). Among other policies enforced association, is confidentiality of information provided by patients. In medical services, confidentiality involves keeping the information relating to the patient private. Privacy agreements bind nursing professionals to non-disclosure of patients' information to third parties without their signed consent (Buppert, 2008). However, the profession is facing daunting challenges in enforcing this policy. Errand members are constantly subjecting hospitals to lawsuits because of compromising their client's confidentiality. More effort need to be put in to curb this criminal vice.
Nursing professionals normally belong to nursing bodies of their home countries that serve as self-regulation authorities (Buppert, 2008). In case of misconduct, the nursing authority composed of peers in the profession passes judgment on their colleagues based on their governing principles. However, the low level of accountability of such bodies makes them susceptible to manipulation. These professional bodies tasked with passing verdict regarding patient handling are prone to compromise and have lost their assertive authority in regulating their members. Consequently, constructive criticism is no longer widely acceptable as a means of reducing recurrent errors of judgment.
Nursing professionals must possess a sense of calling to the field to carry out their duties appropriately. This field requires full dedication to patients regardless of extrinsic rewards. Their selfless activities during warfare where they commit themselves to alleviating suffering of innocent victims are enough evidence to this. However, members of the profession are reluctant to report their colleague's malpractices due to fear of victimization. This constitutes absconding their role of patient advocacy and demeans their integrity. The dwindling confidence in collective responsibility has further alienated patients' needs contrary to the professional requirements of nursing.
Nursing professionals are autonomous to the extent that they make professional decisions without external pressures from clients, non-professionals, and employers. By abiding to the basic principles of nursing, they are able to make critical decisions regarding their patients' welfare. However, in cases where they are not sure, they may consult with their peers (American Nurses Association, 2001). The final decisions must serve the best interest of the patient in case of conflicting interest from external parties. With the advancement of technology, nurses have been generally receptive to new ideas in healthcare. They are at the forefront in adoption of improved medical equipment to assist in care giving. Nursing professionals also value new experiences and have therefore, taken on more challenging tasks to work in the most hostile places on earth.
Members of the profession form the major source of ideas and judgments in their practice. They therefore believe that their professional practice is indispensable to the society and are inclined to do their best. They provide services wholeheartedly with little focus on the financial benefits, but rather on making the society a better place to live in. The nursing bodies also present constructive peer-conduct assessment on their members, to improve competitiveness and performance. However, incidences of stealing of patients have recently plagued the profession to the detriment of patients (Department of Health, 2012). The profession must also act professionals who falsify academic and professional certificates.
The nursing professional must always serve as an advocate for the client. For instance, a nurse is required to move a patient from a poorly ventilated room or a congested hospital ward. The nursing professional should also report suspected abuse to prevent further victimization of patients (American Nurses Association, 2012). The nursing professional is responsible and accountable for delegating tasks consistent with optimal patient care, in collaboration with other healthcare workers to ensure patients receive the best treatment all through. However, power struggles at the work place usually result in patient neglect and mistreatment.
Due to its strenuous and demanding nature, exposure to both physical and emotional abuse is inevitable in the nursing profession. Prolonged working hours may result in burn out and stress and cause negative influences in both the personal and professional life of the individual. Even the most devoted and accountable nursing professional may lose their dedication to the job. This may result in behaviors such as reluctance to answer questions, angry outbursts and constant criticism of patients. The use of condescending language on colleagues and patients is also due to the demanding nature of the nursing profession. Other negative behaviors of nursing professionals include using offensive language, making demeaning comments, humiliating colleagues in public and physical abuse of patients due to frustration. The risk of facing litigation has also caused fear amongst many nursing professionals and resulted in extra caution at the workplace hampering their dedication to patients.
Nurses must distinguish their personal values from professional ethics. Personal values may be significant to their personal lives, but to act professionally they must abide by the nurses code of conduct in all situations. Conversely, their guiding motivation should be providing care to the needy. Nursing as a profession is a lifetime choice requiring willpower and commitment. The nursing profession operates in an environment with a myriad of challenges. Eventually this may take a toll on the individual leading to negative behaviors such as angry outbursts on innocent patients. Such behaviors amongst nursing practitioners threaten the well-being of patients and predetermined mitigation measures are critical to reduce such cases. The adherence to the professional values, attitudes and behaviors among all nursing practitioners will guarantee patient safety and boost competence in job performance.