Professionalism in health and human service delivery is very vital and has developed greatly over the past few years. Nursing professionalism for instance has gained more attention in many countries due to the sensitivity of nursing. In England foe instance, it has been emphasized that nurses should be educated to the degree level in order to improve the services they offer to the patients. The current level of technology and the health care development calls for highly qualified nurses in order to deliver quality services. The interaction between the patents and the healthcare professionals has also been changed by the current communication technologies.
The enhanced level of access to health information for the patients and the public is a clear evidence of the role of health care in the health care delivery. These developments in the health care delivery have impacted the field positively. However, most nurses have shifted their traditional roles of health care worker to assume the entrepreneurial role and promoting their own services. This is detrimental to the health care delivery. Nurses owe the patients the ethic of care and therefore their practice must be well regulated in order to ensure they deliver quality services to the patients. According to Thompson (2010), the changes in the nursing practice have created a lot of concern to the meaning of the nursing professionalism.
The objective of this paper is to afford a comprehensive definition of professionalism in nursing and human service delivery and how professionals should deliver quality care and services. It also focuses on the mechanisms that need to be followed in order to ensure that nurses should follow in order to remain professional.
Definition of Professionalism in nursing
Professionalism comes from the word profession which is a vocation that is created through educational training on a specialized field like accountancy, medicine, nursing among others. A professional is that person who is in possession of a profession or is a member of such a vocation attained through education training on a specialized area. Delivery of services in keeping with the profession is guides by such ethics.
Professionalism in nursing entails the skills, attitudes, values and behaviors that the practice of medicine requires for effective delivery of services. According to ECR, Nurse professionalism “includes concepts such as the maintenance of competence for a unique body of knowledge and skill-set, personal integrity, altruism, adherence to ethical codes of conduct, accountability, a dedication to self-regulation, and the exercise of discretionary judgment” (ECR, 2009, 128).
This definition relates in some respects to the general definition of professionalism that professionalism is the possession of specialized training in a given area and practice of knowledge gained through it to deliver the services related to that profession. Professionalism in nursing is highly dependent on the training that the nurses have gone through and compliance to the ethics of nursing profession to deliver services. According to O’Hanlon (2010, 1), for nurses to act professionally, they must comply with the international code of ethics that guides the actions, values and needs of the professional nursing
Doctors and nurse view professionalism in different perspectives and nurses criticize doctors for adopting the wrong view of the meaning of professionalism in their field of practice. According to McDonald and colleagues (2005), nurses view professionalism as the commitment to follow the guidelines. Doctors, however, fail to conform to the view claims that professionalism should entail acceptable behavior for members of the medical profession which they practice out of their free will. Doctors are therefore accused of failure to comply with the guidelines.
Provision of Quality Care and Services by a Nursing Professional
Nurses are charged with the responsibility of providing quality care and services to the people around him. According to the health law, nurses are said to owe the duty of care to the patients and other people around her. That is they should advise people on how to live better lives. Nursing could be defined as [the use of clinical judgment to provide care to people in order to enable people to improve, maintain, or recover health, to cope with health problems, and to live better lives irrespective of the diseases they are suffering form] (Nightingale, 2007, 1). This defines the scope of quality care and services that nurses are expected to deliver.
Quality care and services in nursing entails providing health care to the people according to their needs and preferences, their state of health and also providing such care at the right time without any delay or/and discrimination. It basically means meeting the needs of the clients or patients. In this case it is expected that the patients have the sensible and understandable expectations of the kind of care that they need. According to Basinski (2005, 12), Delivering high quality care and services means doing all what is desirable to the patient and is capable of improving their health status. This is achievable if the services are delivered at the lowest and reasonable costs possible.
For a nurse professional to be able to deliver quality care and services to the patient, he must ensure that some measures are put in place. Firstly, the nurse must have the relevant qualifications and competence to deliver such services as they are required by the patient. This will enable the nurse to be able to identify the problem of the patient and assist them appropriately. Therefore the nurse must possess the relevant qualification and training level.
The accessibility of care services by the patents must also be ensured by the nurses. All the barriers that are likely to restrict the delivery of care services should be removed so that the professional can work effectively in delivering the necessary care. A nurse professional should also ensure that there is continuity of information and proper coordination of care. The nurse will be effective in delivering quality care and services if coordination with the patients is well coordinated. All the contact points with the customers should be enhanced so that communication can be enhanced.
Young (2010, 1), argued that a professional one should be aware of all the resources that are required in order to deliver quality care and services. All appropriate resources should be integrated into the process of care so as to ensure that only the necessary care is delivered. Care of the patients’ health should be taken on a broader perspective. This means that the professional should ensure comprehensiveness in care delivery. Care delivery should also be patient centeredness, that is, care should be planned for and with individual patients so that each gets what they deserve.
The professional should deliver care in accordance with the acceptable standards of benefits and risks that point out the best achievable care delivery process. The best achievable process helps mitigate the risks that patients could be exposed to.
According to Pondent (2010, 1), quality care should therefore be provided within a safe, ethical and legal context, in an individual and inter-professional framework. A safe framework or environment in nursing is that which is free from factors that are likely to affect the health of patients. A health care professional should ensure that the environment he is working is free from the health hazards that are capable of affecting the health of people. The ethics in the context of nursing professionalism means following the code of ethics or actions and values that guide a nursing professionals in carrying out their duty of delivering quality care and service.
The code of ethics obliges the nurse to respect the dignity and the rights of the patients. According to Taunda (2009, 1), the legal aspects relating to nurses relate to the provisions of the Nurses Practice Act that describes the roles and duties of nurses. Any failure to perform the duties prescribed in the Act is termed as negligence and the perpetrator is punishable by the law. The nurse can lose his practice license and also will face malpractice suit in case they fail to comply with the provisions of the Act.
Mechanisms monitoring health and human service professionals’ behaviors
Due to the sensitivity of the nursing practice there is need for keeping close watch to ensure that professionals conduct their duties as they should. For instance, in Australia, the Australian Nursing Board has it that every professional who want to practice nursing in Australia must be registered with the board. The work permit is also required for some one to practice nursing in Australia. For all nurses trained outside Australia, they must go through an intensive assessment conducted by Australian Nursing Council Incorporated in order to be vetted for competence before they start practicing and before they are registered.
The existence of this board is a mechanism used in Australia in monitoring health and human service professionals’ behaviors. It enables that only qualified professionals are given permission to practice. Australian Capital Territory Gazette (2006, 1) reported the vetting of a registered nurse who was alleged to have acted unethically and was to be suspended for three months. This shows the solemnity of vetting nurses in the pursuit of their practice.
There are other mechanisms that are used to ensure that nurses act professionally in their work and deliver the best services. For instance, “the international council of nurses provides a code of ethics that guides the values and other requirements of professional nursing” (O’Hanlon, 2010, 1). Nurses are therefore required to act within the framework of this code of ethics. To remain a professional in nursing, education is a very important aspect. In many countries like United Kingdom, one needs to go through training for three years which makes him a nurse.
According to Willoughby and colleagues (2002, 1), the nurses should also strictly follow all the ethical standards that have been put in place. Any failure to follow such ethics should be regarded as malpractice. Nursing ethics are important in monitoring health and human service professionals’ behaviors. The behavior of the nurse professionals will be assessed by how well they follow the provisions of the code of ethics.
In order to ensure that nurses follow the professional code in Australia, the law has away of reprimanding the nurses who fail to comply with the code. The nurses may either lose their practicing certificate or be charged with malpractice suit. According Giardino (2000, 10), if a nurse loses his/her practicing certificate, then they cannot deliver care and other health services to the patients. The nurses are continuously encouraged to advance in their studies that will make them competent in their services. The nurses are also taught a course in health law that will enable them to understand the regulation framework for nursing profession. Through this training, nurses are able to understand what is legally expected of them.
How Mechanisms may contribute to quality improvement mechanisms
According to Harris (2006, 18), monitoring health and human service professionals’ behaviors can greatly improve the quality of services offered to nurses. The nurses are able to understand their regal and ethical environment that surrounds their profession. Their work becomes effective when they have the guidelines that spell out what is expected of them. The provisions of health law regarding malpractice by the nurses also enable the law to punish those nurses who do not follow the law. Quality of care and services delivery is greatly enhanced by these mechanisms.
Nursing profession requires strict regulations because it involves dealing with the lives of people. There is need to ensure that every nurse serves the patients in the right manner and they undertakes their duty of care correctly. According American Nurses Association (2000, 23), the code of ethics should be followed strictly and any failure to comply should be reprimanded. The provisions of the health law should be enforced strictly so that the practice of nurses can be monitored. This will ensure they deliver quality care and services to the patients.
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