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Defining Professional Identity in Nursing

Discuss about the Professional Identity in Nursing for Individuals and Families.
 

The nursing profession forms a major aspect of the healthcare sector and is focused on caring for individuals, families, or the communities, with the aim of assisting the receiver to maintain, attain, and recover enhanced health and better quality of life. The unique role of a nursing professional encompasses conducting an assessment of the health status of the patient and delivering hands-on care to all patients in a plethora of healthcare settings. Hence, a nursing professional is involved in providing holistic care to all clients, while addressing the developmental, psychosocial, spiritual, and cultural needs (Hoeve, Jansen & Roodbol, 2014). The essay will illustrate the professional identity of a nurse and will also elaborate on the factors that play a role in governing or modifying the professional identity, thereby affecting their job.

Professional identity can be defined the professional self-concept of an individual, based on the personal beliefs, attributes, motives, values and experiences. The formation of professional identity can be referred to as a complex procedure that helps in the development of a sense of belonging or oneness with the profession, which a person is currently pursuing. It generally forms while an individual gains education or training for job enhancement (Cowin, Johnson, Wilson & Borgese, 2013). Moreover, constructions of professional identity under different conditions that are related to stigmatized or stereotyped cultural identity often pose challenges. In other words, it encompasses several aspects of both personal and professional development and often involves the procedure of internalization of perspectives or core values (Cruess, Cruess, Boudreau, Snell & Steinert, 2014). These perspectives are most often recognized imperative to the art and science of nursing profession. The beliefs and attitudes become self-evident, while a nurse gains, learns, reflects, experiences, and grows in the profession. Internalization of the ethical codes related to scope of nursing practice is also integral to the profession.

Moreover, commitment displayed by nurses in advocating for their patient’s right to healthcare facilities and delivering appropriate healthcare services to vulnerable patients, form a core concept of their professional identity. Hence, it can be stated that nurses are found to embrace their fundamental values in all aspects of their practice, thereby improving the overall health and wellbeing of their patients.

Professional identity therefore acts as the foundation of professional role and functioning in nursing. Nurses who demonstrate attainment of professional identity are most often found to be extremely flexible in facing changes in their roles. It is essential to realize the ways by which the nurses can create their professional identity, owing to the fact that it creates an impact on the development and determination of future nursing roles (Hood et al., 2014). While desirability and clarity of nursing roles results in professional identity, undesirability and ambiguity often leads to professional identity loss. Thus, nursing professionals will not be able to enhance patient care unless they have an acceptable and appropriate concept about their roles and responsibilities.

Importance of Internalizing Perspective for Nursing Professionals

Research evidences suggest that self-respect and professional identity are often interlinked. Self-respect and sense of self-esteem helps to develop a strong sense of identity. It assists the nursing professionals to gain a perception about them and also helps in valuing ones worth. Self-concept and respect can be defined as the personal understanding that is held regarding the cognitive, social and physical perceived attributes (Hercelinskyj, Cruickshank, Brown & Phillips, 2014). It also helps to determine the thoughts and feelings of an individual and encompasses several aspects of worth, awareness, confidence and esteem. Showing consistency with other professions, nursing professionals are also subjected to bullying that involves several nursing staff who discredits the profession (Marañón & Pera, 2015). It is essential for nurses who work with good will and dedicated efficiency to hold a high self esteem and respect, which in turn will facilitate ignoring such bullies and working towards accomplishing the major goals of their profession. Although bullying creates an impact on the psychology and also affects work performance, nurses who strongly identify with their professional identity and have confidence and pride in their honour are able to handle such situations with dignity and honour. 

Nursing professional identity is also enhanced by attitudes that are held by nursing staff, helps in delivering optimal care services to all patients, thereby staying true to their professional demands (Iacobucci, Daly, Lindell & Griffin, 2013). Often nurses hold certain attitudes regarding things or events that they consider realistic, right, and typical or sustainable. Most nurses hold negative attitudes towards patients suffering from mental health problems. Such attitudes lead to a failure in identifying the needs of the clients and make some nurses treat or label them in an inappropriate manner. This often results in the patients experiencing discrimination or being stigmatized, thereby acting as major barriers in their recovery.

Hence, negative and wrong attitudes make the nurses fail to demonstrate proper oneness with their professional identity. Moral and ethics generally refer to the standards or codes of practice that governs the conduct of a person in a particular profession (McLeod-Sordjan, 2014). It encompasses the fundamental rights and principles of proper professional and human conduct. Some nursing professionals often experience moral distress when they witness improper behaviour by some patients or have to provide care in situations that involve end-of-life decisions. In such cases, the professionals often face moral dilemma. Nursing staff that have high moral standards are better able to encounter such situations in a better manner, while addressing the ethical concerns and staying true to the codes of nursing practice (Burston & Tuckett, 2013).

Enhancing Professional Identity in Nursing

The codes of professional practice and guidelines form an essential component to any profession and are responsible for maintaining the standards for all individuals, within that profession. These standards and regulations are enforced or formulated by the regulatory bodies and the Ministry of the state that aims to bring about transparency in the professional discipline. These departments that are under the jurisdiction of the state ensure that all the professionals adhere to the standards related to conducting themselves in an appropriate manner that is true to their professional identity. Furthermore, these regulatory agencies also set out the professional behaviour that is expected of the staff, including the mandatory professional requirements that must be compiled with for becoming a responsible professional.

With regards to the nursing profession, the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation, the largest union present in Australia that promotes the delivery of affordable, high quality and accessible healthcare facilities by all people. This federation acts as the principle regulatory or governing agency that formulates specific rules and strategic frameworks that coordinates the professional activities of all nurses (Anmf.org.au, 2018). The rules outline the role of the nursing profession and helps in running or conducting the affairs of the governing bodies. The Nursing & Midwifery Board of Australia is another major regulatory organization or agency that consists of a board committee, the principle role of which is to develop codes of practice, standards, and guidelines for the nursing and midwifery profession (Nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au, 2018). It is also involved in handling complaints and notifications regarding any violation of the professional codes of nursing practice.

The Nursing & Midwifery Council is another organization that ensures that the professionals keep their knowledge and skills updated and are able to uphold their professional values. They also possess transparent standards that investigate professionals who fail to meet the professional standards (Nmc.org.uk, 2018). Furthermore, the council also sets out the basics of professionalism in everyday nursing practice, with proper implementation of the codes. This creates an opportunity for the nurses and midwives to reflect on their profession.

According to the professional standards of practice, enforced by the Nursing & Midwifery Council, prioritizing people, demonstrating an effective nursing practice, preserving the safety of patients and promoting trust and professionalism are major attributes that help nurses to maintain their professional identity. It focuses on putting the interests of all patients who require care, first and states that nurses should consider the safety and care of service users as the main concern. The code requires them to preserve the dignity of all patients, while recognizing and assessing their needs. It encourages nursing professionals to respect the privacy of patients and assess the patient needs to advise or deliver appropriate treatment services (Nursing & Midwifery Council, 2015).

Relation between Self-Esteem and Professional Identity

The registered nurse standards of practice monitor the quality of services and care provided by the nurses by implementing registered nursing standards. The standards require it imperative for nurses to think critically, engage in professional and therapeutic relationship, and maintain the capability of nursing practice. The latter encompasses ongoing self-management and timely response. Furthermore, the standards also make it essential for nurses to comprehensively conduct patient assessment, develop effective nursing care plan that will enable them to evaluate their outcomes and enhance their professional identity (Nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au, 2018).  

To conclude, professional nursing identity can be defined as a continuous process that often begins with enrolment to a nursing curriculum and gets evolved throughout the career of an individual in a fluid or dynamic manner. It often involves interaction of the nursing education and practice and results in self-reflection, human flourishing and growth. Hence, it can be concluded that internalization of core principles such as, self-respect, esteem, values, moral, beliefs and attitudes helps nursing professionals to experience, learn, and grow in their profession. This professional identity gets reflected in the actual practice, and manifests itself in the form of actions, thinking and behaviour. 

References

Anmf.org.au. (2018).  Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://anmf.org.au/pages/anmf-priorities

Burston, A. S., & Tuckett, A. G. (2013). Moral distress in nursing: contributing factors, outcomes and interventions. Nursing Ethics, 20(3), 312-324. https://doi.org/10.1177/0969733012462049

Cowin, L. S., Johnson, M., Wilson, I., & Borgese, K. (2013). The psychometric properties of five Professional Identity measures in a sample of nursing students. Nurse education today, 33(6), 608-613. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2012.07.008

Cruess, R. L., Cruess, S. R., Boudreau, J. D., Snell, L., & Steinert, Y. (2014). Reframing medical education to support professional identity formation. Academic Medicine, 89(11), 1446-1451. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000427

Hercelinskyj, G., Cruickshank, M., Brown, P., & Phillips, B. (2014). Perceptions from the front line: Professional identity in mental health nursing. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 23(1), 24-32. https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12001

Hoeve, Y. T., Jansen, G., & Roodbol, P. (2014). The nursing profession: public image, self?concept and professional identity. A discussion paper. Journal of advanced nursing, 70(2), 295-309. https://doi.org/10.1111/jan.12177

Hood, K., Cant, R., Baulch, J., Gilbee, A., Leech, M., Anderson, A., & Davies, K. (2014). Prior experience of interprofessional learning enhances undergraduate nursing and healthcare students' professional identity and attitudes to teamwork. Nurse Education in Practice, 14(2), 117-122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nepr.2013.07.013

Iacobucci, T. A., Daly, B. J., Lindell, D., & Griffin, M. Q. (2013). Professional values, self-esteem, and ethical confidence of baccalaureate nursing students. Nursing ethics, 20(4), 479-490. https://doi.org/10.1177/0969733012458608

Marañón, A. A., & Pera, M. P. I. (2015). Theory and practice in the construction of professional identity in nursing students: a qualitative study. Nurse education today, 35(7), 859-863. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2015.03.014

McLeod-Sordjan, R. (2014). Evaluating moral reasoning in nursing education. Nursing ethics, 21(4), 473-483. https://doi.org/10.1177/0969733013505309

Nmc.org.uk. (2018). Our role. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.nmc.org.uk/about-us/our-role/

Nursing & Midwifery Council. (2015). The Code- Professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives. Retrieved from https://www.nmc.org.uk/globalassets/sitedocuments/nmc-publications/nmc-code.pdf.

Nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au. (2018). Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - Guidelines for advertising regulated health services. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Statements/Codes-Guidelines/Guidelines-for-advertising-regulated-health-services.aspx

Nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au. (2018). Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - Registered nurse standards for practice. Retrieved 20 April 2018, from https://www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Statements/Professional-standards/registered-nurse-standards-for-practice.aspx

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