Professionalism in Health and Human Service

Introduction

Health and human services are very crucial in contemporary society much more than they used to be some decades back due to the changing phases of human civilization. It is also imperative to note that health and human services entail all those activities that revolve around the provision of health care services as well as the welfare that surrounds it. This may not be an easy task at all. It is against this backdrop that competency among other ideals necessary in health and human services be followed to the latter if service provision to the target audience is to be successful.

Professionalism within the context of health and human services or nursing in specific encompasses assisting or empowering individuals, a variety of groups, communities from which families stem from as well as the wider society in order to be in a capacity to prevent, reduce or better still, manage and adapt to a crisis that may come their way (Primm, 2010). Besides, professionalism in this field also seeks to equip these different categories within a given society to deal with stressful situations or conditions or inevitable changes in their lives. The main reason why professionalism is important in the field of health and human services delivery is that through the aforementioned ideals, individuals or different groups in society are able to operate effectively in all spheres of their lives.

Hence, nursing professional’s role is to create a conducive environment for people to achieve some level of satisfaction in their lives, to be independent and eliminate dependency syndrome, to increase their productivity in life by making use of the available pool of knowledge within the society, resources as well as inventions (Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, 2007).

Providing quality care and service

In general, professionalism refers to the ability to exhibit courtesy or be careful in terms of behavior at the place of work (Woodside & McClam, 2009). The type of behavior that is considered to fall within the category ought to be in line with the required ethics of the profession. In the case of professional nursing, the provision of quality care and service implies applying the deep practical ideals which are necessary for the profession. Hence, there are aspects of professionalism which should be embraced if quality care and service within a safe, ethical and legal context is to be a reality (Minelli & Breckon, 2009).

There are certain components of competency which nursing professionals must adhere to for the effective provision of quality care and service. Firstly, the professional should be in a position to understand the roles and norms of the profession (Garman, Evanc, Krause & Anfossi, 2006). These are very important if the professional is to deliver the best according to the expectations. To achieve this, the interaction between and among the professional nurses is crucial. Besides, there are those associations that are linked to health and human services that can help boost the knowledge on the norms and roles of the profession at large.

Secondly, health and human service professionals should form cohesive teams that can work with each other through a collaborative approach. This will improve the competency of each of the professionals in the field. Good networks should be maintained with workmates so that tasks that prove to be difficult can be approached from a common front to the benefit of the clients

Thirdly, quality care and service can also be achieved if the professionals manage themselves well (Duckett, 2007). Issues such as time, standards of the profession and other important inputs to professionalism cannot be ignored if the right services are to be offered.

Care and service provided by nurses impact individuals, families and even communities in a variety of ways (World Health Organisation, 2009). For instance, visiting homes by nurses to give help to mothers who have had their first deliveries is a crucial undertaking. A recognized professional in this field should have the capacity to conceptualize the basic operating principles of the profession.

This will enable them to apply the same ideals in revolutionizing the condition of the target audience who may be patients or people in urgent need (Primm, 2010). As mentioned earlier, health and human services professionals ought to familiarize themselves with the general code of ethics if they are to apply them to the latter when attending to the deserving groups. If the roles and norms of the profession are well mastered, it will promote not only the inter-professional output but also the capacity of an individual professional.

As an important ingredient to quality care and service, nursing professionals ought to exercise compassion even as they deliver the most needed services. Compassion goes beyond teamwork because it is more directed towards an individual professional who is offering the service. In addition, accountability counts towards providing quality care and service (Garman, Evanc, Krause & Anfossi, 2006).

One important aspect of being accountable is that it trains health and human service professionals to be focussed, meticulous and competent in service delivery. Professionals who are accountable in every action they take tend to offer the best practice because in case of any eventuality, they are able to offer logical reason. Moreover, health and human service professionals who are accountable are trustworthy and can be relied upon by the wider majority who deserve their services. A productive as well as conducive workplace can be created if confidentiality is given due consideration.

The welfare and wellbeing of nursing service professionals is equally important as the needs of different target groups (Hasenfeld, 2010). The services offered by these professionals are broad and highly challenging. It is against this background that their safety is crucial should they be effective and productive in their work. If they happen to work in an environment that is not supportive of their immediate needs, their performance will be equally affected thereby leading to poor care and service delivery.

There are quite a number of instances when health and human service professionals can be endangered in the course of discharging their duties. The likely injuries sustained by these professionals are contributed by two main factors namely longer working hours and working in shifts. There are several adverse effects associated with longer working hours. Those who work overtime tend to develop poor health with time due to overstraining and little time to rest.

In addition, the health and human service professional works for longer hours, they stand a higher risk of sustaining injuries associated with their duties compared to other professionals who work during the legal hours only. Due to poor health of these professionals, the mortality rate of those who work overtime tends to be higher than normal (Jong-wook, 2006). For example, musculoskeletal injuries are common among the nursing fraternity who work beyond the legal hours. Schedules which entail extended working hours should be monitored thoroughly to ensure that nursing professionals do not jeopardise their health.

There are a myriad of risks which accompany shift working. For instance, sleepiness coupled with poor performance of the health professionals is common. Insomnia is widespread among people who work in odd night hours and it is out of this sleepiness that they can’t perform well at workplace thereby hindering quality care and service. There is a significant loss of productivity among nursing professionals who are struggling with sleeping episode even while at their place of work. Moreover, studies have shown that there is an increase in injuries sustained by workers who work on shift basis at night compared to those who carry out their shifts during the day (Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, 2007. Mood disturbances alongside depressive moments are common among shift workers.

Coping strategies exist in the event that both overtime and shift working cannot be avoided. Firstly, the longer working hours including the shifts should be designed in such a way that there are breaks in between t facilitate some rest and educe fatigue. The use of caffeine has also been known to reduce sleepiness and fatigue. Restructuring dietary intake of nursing professionals is equally necessary as a way of coping.

Safety and Infection control in health care

The spread of diseases in hospitals which are infectious in nature has led to the loss of life almost every year. Hence, it is important for healthcare workers to take initiative to reduce the transmission of infectious diseases. In order to prevent infections while attending to patients in hospitals, healthcare workers should wash their hands properly. Besides, it is also imperative to create a cover of sneezes or coughs to avoid the spread of infections.

In addition, immunization should be up to date as well as the use of protective clothing to avoid infections while attending to patients. Hand cleaners and tissue materials should be made available at all times. Finally, it is equally important if health care workers stick to the safety guidelines within a hospital establishment like the handling of blood and other items used for surgery.

Monitoring mechanisms

According to World Health Organisation (2009), there are six monitoring mechanisms which can be employed in order to monitor and evaluate the behaviour as well as performance of a health and human service delivery workforce. To begin with, there is the service delivery mechanism. Professional nurses can be monitored through the evaluation of the effectiveness of service delivery of the individual professional or a team as a whole.

Best service deliveries will be indicated by the level of satisfaction of the target audience. Hence, a survey can be conducted involving those who receive services from health and human service field. Secondly, health workforce is another viable mechanism which is integral in the monitoring the behaviour of nursing team. In regard to this, the total workforce under the department of health can be assessed against performance. If monitoring is directed to this workforce alone, it will be easier to evaluate the progress rather than involving the entire workforce for a country (Garman, Evanc, Krause & Anfossi, 2006).

Moreover, through a sound financial investment in the health and human services sector, it will be possible to track down the progress on the behaviour of professionals in this field bearing in mind a lot of relevant researched information based on the performance of the health professionals will be gathered and simultaneously used for analysis and evaluation

In addition to the mentioned mechanisms, the availability and use of the ready information obtained from individual performance records of health and human service professionals can be used to monitor the behavioural characteristics. Hence, keeping of records for individual professionals for a given period of time and then analysing the same for evaluation is a viable mechanism that can be put in place.

Furthermore, a well instituted leadership and governance structure is necessary for the purpose of behaviour monitoring. In spite of the availability of data and other mechanisms, there is still urgent need to develop a vibrant leadership structure which does not only oversee the day to day responsibilities of the health and human service professionals but also offers a critical analysis of their overall progress.

Finally, technology mechanism can equally monitor the behaviour of these professionals (AHPRA, 2010). The adoption of up to date technological models for monitoring and evaluation is necessary in order to keep in pace with the technological advances. The adoption and implementation of these mechanisms can significantly improve the quality of service delivery since all the mechanisms provide a rigorous monitoring, analysis and evaluation process for nurses.

Conclusion

Nursing as a profession is indeed a very demanding and challenging at the same time. Professionalism in this field entails the passionate and whole hearted service delivery to target groups which may be in need of either health care or welfare. Hence, acquiring basic academics in health and human service delivery is not sufficient as far as professionalism in this field is concerned. There are a myriad of code of ethics which should be adhered to in addition to safe practices.

References

AHPRA. (2010). Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. Web.

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare. (2007). Australia’s Welfare 2007. Canberra: AIHW. Web.

Duckett, S. J. (2007). The Australian health care system. (3rd ed). Melbourne: Oxford.

Garman, A.N. Evanc,R. Krause,M.K. Anfossi, j (2006). Professionalism. Journal of Healthcare management,51(4), 219.

Hasenfeld, Y. (2010). Human Services as Complex Organizations, London: Sage publications.

Jong-wook, L. (2006). The world health report 2006: Working together for Health. Geneva: World Health Organisation. Web.

Minelli, J.M. and Breckon, J.D. (2009). Community Health Education: Settings, Roles, and Skills, Ontario: Jones and Barttlet Publishers, LLC.

Primm, R. D. (2010). Professionalism among Occupational Health Nurses. AAOHN Journal, 281, 3.

Woodside, M and McClam, T. (2009). An Introduction to Human Services, California: Thomson Brooks.

World Health Organisation (2009). Handbook on monitoring and evaluation of human resources for health. Web.