Professionalism in Nursing:
The Impact in Healthcare
Professionalism in nursing: The impact in healthcare
Nurses are expected to have the highest professional standards and ethics of any other profession. They are also expected to live up to high public opinion of behavior, appearance, and competence (Jones, 2010). In terms of patient care, nurses have a duty to establish and maintain the trust of, and rapport with, each patient with whom they have been entrusted. Throughout the years, nursing has gone through a cycle of evolution. In the early days, with Florence Nightingale, nurses were uniform, refined, entrusted with minute tasks, and above reproach (Cipriano, 2008). In recent past, the trend has been toward a personal nursing practice, individuality, and rapid entry into the field (American Association, 2010; LaSala & Nelson, 2010). This paper will highlight that, in order to maintain the high public opinion of the profession and increase the level of patient trust, nurses should present a professional and uniform appearance, promote self-regulation, and strive for higher education..
According to Spragley & Francis (2006), nursing uniforms create the first impression to patients upon which all interaction is based. Also included with their research is the conclusion that patients may feel more comfortable with disclosing personal information to nurses in uniform, as opposed to a more peer-type nurse who is dressed in “street clothes with a lab coat.” This distance that the uniform creates between nurse and patient, while appearing to alienate the nurse from the patient, may actually create necessary boundaries that the patient can rely on and identify with (Spragley & Francis, 2006) (Timmons & East, 2011). Interestingly, LaSalla & Nelson have noted that increasingly nurses are aware of how professional image can influence the public’s perception of professional practice (2005). In addition to how one’s personal dress may affect others’ perceptions, there is another aspect of uniformity- or image, that can tend to be neglected. New nurses are reminded that there is more to professional appearance than clothing, specifically presence. Regardless of what the nurse is wearing, if one was to shuffle into a patient room with messy hair and wrinkled clothes, the first impression is a bad one and the patient/provider relationship is on rocky ground from the start (LaSalla & Nelson, 2005; Cipriano, 2008). Cited authors opine that a standardized dress code should not be written for nurses, as it is something all nurses should strive toward; however, the American Nurses Credentialing Center is seeing the trend away from traditional uniformity and is striving to create a standardized measure of nurse-attracting hospitals. It is their goal that patients will recognize these institutions as safe zones with professional and attentive nurses who want to be there. These credentials, along with other factors, are instrumental to providing autonomy for the nursing profession.
With increasing frequency, nurses and hospitals are organizing around MAGNET principles, based on 14 “Forces of Magnetism (Forces, 2012)”, three of which are discussed in this paper. The first force, force 12, is the “Image of Nursing” (above), the second is force 9, “Autonomy”. According to the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC):
Autonomous nursing care is the ability of a nurse to assess and provide nursing actions as
appropriate for patient care based on competence, professional expertise and knowledge.
The nurse is expected to practice autonomously, consistent with professional standards.
Independent judgment is expected within the context of interdisciplinary and
multidisciplinary approaches to patient/resident/client care. Not only is autonomy beneficial to nursing practice, but there is theory that shows a...