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Nursing Professionalism

UPDATED JANUARY 17, 2023: We are constantly updating the resources on this page, so please take time to check out the links and get all the information you need to source your next great opportunity.

Professionalism brings tremendous value to the nursing profession. Maintaining professionalism on the job is also crucial to the success of your nursing career.

Taken as a whole, nursing actions that are grounded in evidence-based, ethical, dedicated and effective care reinforce the profession’s credibility and legitimacy. In other words, the entire profession is respected because individual nurses conduct themselves in a professional manner.

So what is nursing professionalism? There are different understandings of this concept, but in a nutshell, it means upholding standards of conduct and practice, as well as maintaining a positive approach and attitude including having compassion for clients and patients. The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario has developed a healthy work environment Best Practice Guideline “Professionalism in Nursing”. Learn more about how to apply the eight attributes identified as underlying nursing best practices. When you uphold these professional values, you will have the foundation for a successful career.

Eight attributes of professionalism in nursing.

  • Knowledge — this includes having a body of knowledge that is theoretical, practical and clinical, but also the ability to apply the knowledge using an evidence-based rationale for practice, and using information or evidence from nursing and other disciplines to inform practice.
  • Spirit of inquiry — this includes being open-minded, asking questions that lead to the generation of knowledge, striving to define patterns of responses from clients, and commitment to life-long learning.
  • Accountability — this includes understanding the meaning of self-regulating; using legislation, standards of practice and a code of ethics; a commitment to work with clients and families; active engagement in the advancement of the quality of care; and recognizing personal capabilities, knowledge bases and areas for development.
  • Autonomy — this includes working independently and exercising decision making within one’s scope of practice; recognizing relational autonomy; and being aware of autonomy barriers and seeking ways to remedy the situation.
  • Advocacy — this includes understanding the client’s perspective; assist the client with their learning needs; being involved in professional practice initiatives and activities to enhance their health care; and being knowledgeable about policies that impact on delivery of health care.
  • Innovation and visionary — this includes fostering a culture of innovation to enhance client outcomes; showing initiative for new ideas and being involved through taking action; and influencing the future of nursing, delivery of health care and the health care system.
  • Collegiality and collaboration — this includes developing collaborative relationships in a professional context; acting as a mentor to nurses, nursing students and colleagues to enhance and support professional growth; and acknowledging and recognizing interdependence between care providers.
  • Ethics and values — this includes knowledge about ethical values, concepts and decision-making; identifying ethical concerns; applying nursing ethics knowledge to make decisions; collecting and using information for ethical decision-making; collaborating with colleagues to develop and maintaining practice environment that supports nurses and respects their ethical and professional responsibilities; and engaging in critical thinking about ethical issues.

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