Values Of Professionalism In Nursing

Professionalism in the broadest sense is the characteristics or qualities that someone in a specific job or profession is expected to exhibit. Nursing is no different, having a core set of values expected universally from all nurses. In 1988, to help in educating nursing students in these core qualities, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) established five essential values that describe relationships between professional nurses. They are altruism, autonomy, human dignity, integrity and social justice. These essential values are all present in some form in nurses who demonstrate exceptional professionalism and who help elevate nursing as a whole to a respected profession (Vezeau, 2006, p. 8). As nursing students take on their professional identity it is important that they can represent these core values expected from the public in all nurses.
Nurses must demonstrate altruism or a concern for the welfare and wellbeing of others (Vezeau 2006 p. 8). Altruism is for many nurses the value that drew them to the profession. It can include being a patient advocate, helping educate clients and coworkers and generally putting the client’s needs first. This can include an emphasis on holistic care, and focusing as much on the patients emotional needs as their physical demands and tasks (Rapport et al. 2013, p. 153). Young nurses can often mistake altruism for martyrdom and self-sacrifice, therefore high levels of altruism have shown a correlation with burn out (Vezeau 2006 9).
The second AACN essential value is autonomy. Nurses must respect the patients’ right to self determination of care. Except for very specific legal instances professional nurses must enable patients to make informed choices about their o...

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...o understand that professional values are, “the standards for action that are generally accepted by the group as a whole, expected of its practicing members, and socialized into its novices” (Vezeau, 2006, p. 5).
By emphasizing altruism, autonomy, human dignity, integrity and social justice as their core values, nurses can create a truly united, professional and exceptional workforce.

Rapport, F., Doel, M., Hutchings, H., Jones, A., Culley, L., & Wright, S. (2014). Consultation workshops with patients and professionals: developing a template of patient-centred professionalism in community nursing. Journal Of Research In Nursing, 19(2), 146-160. doi:10.1177/1744987113490416

Vezeau, T. (2006). Teaching professional values in a BSN program. International Journal Of Nursing Education Scholarship, 3(1). Retrieved from
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