Throughout the years there has been a common misinterpretation about the image of nursing. At most times this image is negative and represents the profession in an unconstructive manner. Nurses have the potential to change this image. They can take initiative in many different areas of social involvement. One area that can influence the roles and representations nurses have in society is continuing education or advanced degrees. A second area is social impression which can be influenced by the demonstration of professionalism. The last area nurses can positively affect to improve the professions image, is through public relations and education. Through these areas of social involvement nurses can make a difference by being proactive and presenting a more positive portrayal of nursing.
In order for a nurse to obtain higher education there has to be initiative and desire. This includes a want to increase self knowledge and perseverance. Nurses who are continuing and achieving higher education can raise the bar in demonstrating professionalism. In many two year associate programs throughout the country, professionalism is never taught or concentrated on because of dense course material compacted into two years. In these programs students are taught to be proficient at performing skills, not managing conflict on units or conducting research. To better prepare nursing students for career advancement, associate degree of nursing programs (ADN) can benefit by implementing professionalism throughout their curriculum. This would potentially increase the number of students in Bachelors of Science degrees in Nursing (BSN) and at least clarify advantages and disadvantages to higher education. If Nurses from ADN programs were to pursue higher education it would ultimately improve the image of nursing. These nurses would be better trained professionals and present themselves with prestige. Communication with coworkers and patients would be improved and burnout rates would decrease. To help facilitate the change nurses can take advantage of tuition reimbursement or assistance programs that are provided by many nursing facilities and employers. Furthermore patients would have better outcomes and nurses would be safer practitioners, eventually improving the nurses’ demonstration of professionalism.
What does it mean to be a professional? According to Merriam-Webster (2010) the definition of a professional is characterized by conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession. These standards can integrate many different aspects that are vital to the nursing field. For instance a title or the way in which a nurse is called, can represent professionalism. In the book from Silence to Voice, Buresh and Gordon (2006) suggest that nurses should be called by their last name (for example, Nurse Huerta). These authors stress that all trained and educated health care professionals (such as doctors) are called by their last name. So why should nurses be any different? A title should be as important as a person’s name. It presents nurses to patients in a sophisticated well educated manner. This type of communication emphasizes professionalism. In addition, Buresh and Gordon mention that the way in which nurses communicate with each other needs to reflect their trained and educational backgrounds, “Nurses must communicate in ways that highlight nurses’ knowledge rather than their virtues” (Buresh et al., 2006).This also includes communication with your team and coworkers. Because of high stress levels in hospitals, respect for one another is often challenged or omitted. It is definitely hard work to maintain a professional communication when a patient, coworker, or physician is yelling at you. What can nurses do to assist with this? Being aware of maintaining professionalism and not initially reacting could potentially help. This portrays the nurse in a better manner and maintains her presentation. Presentation is...
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