Nursing Attributes

Topics: Ethics, Human, Communication Pages: 11 (1640 words) Published: December 18, 2008
This paper will discuss three attributes of a nurse: competencies, commitment and

compassion with a rational. Ethics / Human rights and communication concepts across

the human life span will also be discussed.

The three attributes were chosen on the basis that it takes a special type of person to

fulfil these requirements. Zhang et al (2000,pg 469) quoted that the -

‘ … Key differences between superior and average

job performance is not the measurable skills but the

soft skills or competencies.’

Competence is a persons underlying knowledge and attributes to complete a task to

meet job requirements. Nursing competencies are regarded as knowledge, skills, traits,

motives and attributes such as boundaries of care and knowing your own limitations

so you do not cause harm to a patient. Another is the logical order of care given, for

example the 5 rights / 5 corrects of medical administration:- right patient,

right time, right drug, right dose, and right route.

Its commitment to the job and to the patient that allows for flexibility in the logical

order of care as no two patients will ever be the same. Commitment in nursing is said

to be a bond - physically, intellectually and emotionally to their job and to the patient

such as giving the patient ample opportunity to ask questions about their care or any

anxieties they may have, sometimes going back to them three of four times a day to

ask how they are doing. Patients will appreciate this as they are aware that nurses are

busy or short-staffed on the ward and often feel uncomfortable asking for help or

advice. Fosbinder (1994) highlighted four points on patient concern - translation of

knowledge, getting to know the patient, establishing trust and ’going the extra mile.’

‘Going the extra mile’ could be and often is seen as a mixture of commitment and


Compassion is often seen as an ability to empathise with another’s experiences and

feelings while recognising that the nurse can not fully understand or comprehend due

to the differences in their own experiences and personalities.

‘…compassion promotes equality as experiencing

compassion suggests an inherent regard and respect

for the other as a fellow human being…’

(Sabo 2006, pg136)

Compassionate people show characteristics like virtue, concern for the well-being of

others and in nursing to relieve the suffering of patients while retaining the patient’s

dignity. Being compassionate or showing compassion can often come across as

paternalism. This is a difficult area for most nurses as they want the patient to become

Independent, healthy and live a long and healthy life. It is easy to think ‘I have more

knowledge therefore I know best’ but this is unethical and the patients right to

autonomy is undermined.

Ethics is often regarded as a person’s morals or moral choices. But it is also widely

used in nursing as the patient’s Human Rights. This is listed predominantly in the

nursing and midwifery councils (NMC) code of conduct, which is known as medical

ethics. The NMC says that each adult patient has the right to Autonomy, the right to

be self governing and make choices for their own care, the right to have Dignity, not

to feel patronised or disrespected in anyway. The patient should have Trust that the

nurse/ medical establishment will do what they can to help the Patient and do no harm

within the boundaries of the patients autonomy.

The NMC clearly states:

‘You must respect and support peoples rights to accept

Or decline treatment and care.’

‘You must uphold peoples rights to be fully involved

In decisions about their care.’

(The Code, NMC, Pg 4, 2008)

All nurses must adhere to the NMC The Code (formally known as the code of


‘You must ensure any advise you give is evidence...
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