There are so many different levels of nursing with such a variety of healthcare providers. With this, how would you still know who is a nursing professional? Gone are the days of telltale nursing caps, white pantyhose and dress uniforms. Most nurses welcome scrubs and crocs with open arms! This leaves many patients, residents or clients wondering who the professional staff is and who is housekeeping.
Is it the number of letters after someone's name? Is it their position? Is it their personal qualities and behavior? Can the unit clerk or housekeeper be considered a professional?
I am sure you have met many "professionals" with fancy titles, lovely offices and more letters after their name than you have in your own name. Some of whom have left you with a very sour taste in your mouth after dealing with their unprofessional behavior.
Furthermore, I am certain that we have all met less educated providers that impress us with their honesty, integrity and caring behavior towards those on any level of the social, educational or economic scale: the janitor who takes great pride in his shiny floors, the ward clerk who is always one step ahead, or the LPN/ LVN who has an uncanny yet accurate intuition when it comes to patients' needs.
So, what does a nursing professional look like? How does one act and behave? How can we, as nurses, become more professional no matter what or how many letters come after our name?
A professional looks the part.
Like it or not, the way you dress is important. You can be the sharpest tool in the shed but if you are covered in dirt, it will be hard for anyone to tell. Professionals spend the time, money and energy to look the part. Maybe it shouldn't matter, but it does. Sorry.
A professional treats everyone with respect.
Whether it's a colleague, patient, resident, or client, nursing professionals treat everyone in their nursing practice with dignity and respect. They see value in each person, no matter how high or low on the totem pole they happen to be. This is not always an easy thing to do, but it surely is always the right thing to do.
A professional commits to life-long learning.
School is never out for us, whether it's "automobile university" (listening to informative CDs in the car), always having a book on the go, keeping up to date with professional magazines or websites, attending personal or professional conferences, or simply by listening and learning from others.
A professional does their best at what they are being paid to do.
They are committed to excellence whether they "feel like it" or not; whether external circumstances warrant it or not.
Can anyone with the right attitude be a professional in nursing? Yes. Nurses, you may have specialized nursing skills and training, perhaps more so than your lesser skilled colleagues. You invested more years in schooling and obtaining nursing education than some of your peers. But, what is to be gained by holding yourself high and making others feel low?
Instead, what if we hold the bar high for everyone? If we treat everyone we work with as professionals and expect everyone to act like a professional in the realm of what they do, I would bet my last nickel we wouldn't be disappointed!
So a number of questions beg to be asked:
- Are you a nursing professional?
- What could you do to act MORE professionally?
- Do you treat others professionally?
- What could you do differently to improve professionalism in your workplace?
- How would things be better in your workplace if you treated others more professionally?