Nurses have been described as “lacking professional commitment and motivation, low in risk taking and change-making, having a ‘blue-collar mentality,’ being cautious and conservative, and suffering from lack of cohesiveness and collegiality” (as cited in Chandler, 1986, p.1). With this definition of what a nurse has been professed as, there is a fundamental responsibility to redefine and understand the purpose and characterization of todays nurse. Without a true clarity, respect and cohesiveness of peers and community cannot be stipulated. Gastmans (1998) states, “For nurses (both as individuals and as a professional group) it should be considered an ethical challenge to change the context of nursing practice from a stumbling block into a driving force” (p. 244). Creating a new identity ensures professional recognition and the appreciation of nursing competence and commitment to the patient’s well being (Gastmans). Description of Terms
Health can be described as the absence of physical disease or pain. The etymology of the word ‘health’ also references prosperity, happiness, welfare, protection, and safety. True health is therefore holistic, including more than the freedom from disease or pain. Health is having a personal contentment, peace of mind and the ability to protect one’s own welfare. Environment
The word environment can have multiple inferences and yet all contexts describe a place where an individual lives or functions; a safe place. In the nursing realm, an environment that promotes healing and wellbeing is essential for a patient to feel safe. It can be suggested that nurses themselves can become a healing environment for the patient.
The term patient is used to describe an individual who is ill or injured and receiving care from a physician. However, for a nurse, the definition of a patient is more than just an individual seeking medical attention. A patient includes all individuals, families and communities who may be healthy or ill, seeking education, encouragement, management or support. Nurse
Merely thirty years ago, Chandler (1981) wrote that nurses have a “lack of cultural identity [which] leads nurses to devalue their own skills, to take few risks, and to have little faith in their own ability” (p.14). Today, nurses can be defined as those who, without discrimination of any difference, care for individuals, families and communities who are both healthy and ill in a holistic manner based on their specific needs. Nurses combine science, nursing theory, and technology in caring for those patients. Critical thinking and clinical judgment are central to their decision-making. The independence and confidence of the nurse, as well as the perception of empowerment, support the collegial aspects of nursing (Begât, 2005). Statement of Nurses personal and professional values
It may seem that personal and professional values are two separate categories. It can be argued, however, that these are two entities in the same realm. One could suggest that personal values are referring to one’s conscience while professional values refer to professional obligations. In any case, the altruistic basis of nursing can imply that they are one in the same, with professional values being more defined.
Values are central to one’s thinking, decision-making and ultimately, actions and behavior. Core values are the things that are the most important aspects of what one believes and, therefore how others are treated. Honesty and integrity are personal core values that cannot be negotiated. Integrity is unconditional and absolute. Without it, no real success is possible. Self-attitude is the one thing that can be controlled in any circumstance. The understanding that another person’s behavior cannot be changed allows for personal obligatory control over the situation to be liberated. Attitude directly affects others, and a poor attitude cripples progress. Commitment is one of the single most important values in becoming successful. Personal expectations are set high. It is crucial that expectations be elevated even higher when anticipated accomplishment draws near. Excuses cannot be accepted. Professional values
Personal core values merge into professional values. They drive perceptions and views of people and how they should be treated. This will impact how nurses treat patients day to day. Honesty and integrity are essential in the nursing profession. Honesty expresses both self-respect and respect for others. Integrity requires the right choice to be made for the greater good of others, setting aside any personal gain or agenda.
A poor attitude directly affects others, including patients, and so in every circumstance it is necessary to carry an attitude of compassion. Professional nurses recognize that every day their job might be emotionally, physically and mentally taxing. They accept that as an affiliate of the nursing profession they are expected to think clear, act fast and work hard. Recognizing that they are a part of this profession by choice, and fully understanding the standards of the job, they will always try to uphold the prestige, honor and morale of the nursing profession.
Nurses recognize the value of commitment. They are committed to superior performance in patient care, practicing with integrity, creating and fostering a medical home for each patient and their families.
Unity is the state of being one. Nurses are unified toward one common goal: namely the health and welfare of the patients and communities served. It is this unity that makes creating a pathway to allow something extraordinary to happen, possible. Practice examples that support nursing values
Recently, an 84 year old male patient was seen in the clinic for a non-healing wound to his right foot. The wound, covering the entire dorsal, lateral and medial aspects as well as three of his toes, was so extensive that tendons were apparent in areas. The wound had a foul odor and the patient was experiencing unimaginable pain. His daughter who accompanied him was distraught with the difficulty her father was experiencing. She explained to the nurse that the patient was currently residing in a rehabilitation center to ensure proper wound care. They had both reluctantly agreed to this decision after the wound became too big for either of them to care for. The regret on the daughter’s face was apparent and they were both feeling helpless. The nurse spent 2 hours educating them, cleaning the wound and dressing the wound appropriately. Before the patient and the daughter left, the nurse called the rehabilitation center to speak to the nurse caring for this patient. The rehabilitation nurse was unavailable and relayed a message that they were doing the “best job they could under the circumstances”.
The clinic nurse could not accept this answer. A decision was made between the patient, the daughter of the patient and the nurse that they would come see the clinic nurse three times a week at 7:30 in the morning before the clinic opened to have his wound evaluated, cleaned and re-dressed; after 6 months of dressing changes three times weekly, the wound healed. This nurse demonstrated commitment and was invested in the outcome and well-being of the patient. Aside from providing a safe environment for the patient and his daughter, the nurse encouraged, supported, counseled, educated and exuded an attitude of compassion. Nursing values in relationship to the Regis Mission
The Registered Nurse who graduates from Regis University has been given the gift of a value-centered education. They will graduate with professional dignity and an understanding for the importance and commitment for community service. They will be competent in their profession and be able to think logically, critically and creatively while being able to appreciate the impact of nursing as a whole. They will be confident in searching for knowledge and to find greater truth and a more ethical existence for the health and well being of society. They will be strong in their personal values, socially responsible, and excel in nursing practice and leadership. Conclusion
It is a contradiction to have a profession in which one is a subservient handmaiden and a critical thinker able to put judgment into action. The professional image of nursing does not change the nurturing aspects of patient care (Choen, 1981). Instead, nurses learn to assert their knowledge and recommendations while becoming and integral part of a healing team. In the last decade nurses have effectively altered the public perception of whom a nurse is and what it is they represent. They have been warriors in the fight against a bias within the healthcare system proving that nurses can think critically, logically and act accordingly with an autonomous approach. They provide a matchless contribution to patients, families and society. This is a commendable feat; nonetheless there remains a long journey ahead. As nurses continue to drive toward this goal of establishing a new identity for the nursing profession, extraordinary things will continue to happen.
Begât, I. (2005). Nurses’ satisfaction with their work environment and the outcomes of clinical nursing supervision on nurses’ experiences of well-being – a Norwegian study. Journal of Nursing Management, 13(3), 221-230. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2834.2004.00527.x Chandler, G. E. (1986). The relationship of nursing work environment to empowerment and powerlessness (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://content.lib.utah.edu/u?/undthes,63987. Cohen, H. (1981). The nurse’s quest for professional identity. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley. Gastmans, C. (1998). Challenges to nursing values in a changing nursing environment. Nursing Ethics, 5(3), 236-245. doi: 10.1177/096973309800500307 Regis University Mission Statement. (2011/2012) In Loreto Heights School of Nursing student handbook. Retrieved from http://www.regis.edu/content/rhnu/pdf/2011-2012.LHSON.student.handbook.pdf