The Meaning of the Concept of Professionalism

Subject: Nursing
Pages: 8
Words: 2258
Reading time:
10 min
Study level: PhD


Understanding the meaning of the concept of professionalism is of crucial importance for becoming a qualified specialist in any sphere. The issues of professionalism are especially significant for the spheres in which the clients’ personal information needs to be disclosed for the purpose of providing the services. Nursing is considered as one of these fields because the employees have to deal with the patients’ personal health-related or not information. Considering this peculiarity of their professional sphere, nurses should pay special attention to the issues of confidentiality of the clients’ information, observing the norms of professional ethical behavior.

In other words, the professionalism of the nursing staff is required for providing the high quality health care services and maintaining the safe ethical and legal framework. The peculiar characteristics of multidisciplinary nursing environment increase the importance of the ethical norms and nurses’ well-developed communicative skills for effective cooperation with the representatives of other professions. This essay will define the concept of professionalism within the safe, ethical and legal framework, as well as the mechanisms which are required for delivering the high quality health care services for the purpose of increasing the satisfaction of patients and health care practitioners.

The definition of the professionalism in nursing

A number of researchers defined the concept of professionalism in the context of nursing within the clinical setting, expressing their views on the mission of nurses and their services. These definitions have much in common with issues of professional behavior in other health care specialists.

According to Dhai (2008), professionalism should be measured by the trust, integrity and honesty to insure that the health practitioner meets the expectation of the public. She had also mentioned that health practitioners need to be in the know of the latest changes in laws, political environment and ethical norms of their professional sphere as well as to consider the latest achievements of researchers, implementing the evidence-based approach to their professional practice. Crisp and Taylor (2009) reported that professional nurses need to meet the high ethical standards and have the ability to identify a great number of the recent issues.

They also mentioned that nurses would work professionally on the condition of integrating their theoretical knowledge into the professional practice and bearing in mind the high level of responsibility for their services. Therefore, the nurses’ awareness of the ethical and legal issues are not less important than their knowledge of innovative healthcare practices and techniques. In addition, Primm (2010) defined the professionalism in the context of health care practice which includes the nursing profession, as a combination of the ethical sense and the technical practices, as well as behaving professionally at the workplace.

Moreover, Primm pointed at some points that could help nurses to improve their skills and stimulate their professional growth. These points include the continuous accumulation of knowledge, receiving feedback from colleagues, giving preference to cooperation instead of competition, and cultivating respect towards other people and feeling of responsibility for their professional practice.

Furthermore, Eagleson (2001) reported that the measurements of acting professionally in nursing, as “professionalism should embrace honesty, integrity and responsibility” (p. 27). Moreover, nurses need to be aware about the code of ethics of nursing and consider the autonomy principle while making the decision and continuously learn theories and improve skills for maintaining the professionalism (Crisp & Taylor, 2009).

Bryan (2006) emphasised the importance of continuous learning, improvement of one’s competence and implementation of the acquired knowledge in the professional practice, offering nurses to review the articles in journals on Nursing, discuss the content with colleagues as well as to attend professional conferences and courses. Summing up all the above mentioned definitions, these are the ethical standards and the technical knowledge which can be specified as the key points for defining the concept of professionalism in nursing practice.

Therefore, nurses should observe the norms of professional ethics in their working practice, communicating with patients and doing everything possible for reaching the mutual understanding with the aim of providing the high quality health care services and increasing the satisfaction of colleagues and patients.

Another important aspect is maintaining the technical standards of health care practice for the purpose of enhancing the effectiveness of work of the nursing team and every individual nurse. Thus, professionalism in nursing context depends upon two measurable criteria, including the technical practices which are required for developing the practical skills of the nursing staff and the ethical norms of professional behaviour which have a significant impact on the quality of health care services. Dhai (2008) noted that the main difference between the health care professional and a specialist who works in another sphere is the ethical standards which need to be observed in their daily practice and the high level of responsibility for the quality of the services provided.

Providing Health Care Services in a Safe Context

Providing a high quality of work within a safe, ethical and legal context have been discussed in a large number of researches because of the importance of these factors in nurses’ daily practices. Manual handling of patients and psychological distress are the main hazards of the nursing profession which need to be considered for ensuring the safely environment for nurses and patients without sacrificing the quality of the health care services. Handling, lifting and carrying are some of the practices which cause the majority of nurses’ industrial injuries as to musculoskeletal traumas (Thornbory, 2003).

According to Griffith and Stevens (2004), manual handling is considered as the main cause of back injuries among nurses. They also discussed the measures which need to be imposed by nurses and hospital administration for preventing or reducing the risks of these injuries. These strategies included the explorative and control components, starting from identifying the main sources of hazards, assessment of potential risks and imposing the appropriate measures for reducing or eliminating the risks. The psychological pressure and distress is another aspect which should be taken into consideration for controlling the risks within the nursing environment.

In the majority of cases stress is caused by the workload, unclear role or responsibility in the work and emotions related, patient death which could be reduced by identifying the stress factor and eliminating it if it is possible or at least reducing the negative impact (Parikh, Taukari & Bhattacharya, 2004).

Ulrich et al (2010) admitted that the ethical dilemmas which nurses have to face in their daily practices result in the high level of their stress because the nursing environment is related to the conflict of many ethical codes which should be handled for making the professional decisions. Therefore, stress factors have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the nurse’s work and consequently decrease the quality of health care services. Controlling the risks which can be caused by manual handling of the patients and the psychological distress at the workplace is important for maintaining the safe environment for the nursing staff and delivering the high quality health care services for the patients.

Providing Health Nursing Services in Ethical Context

Nurses are responsible for meeting the professional ethical standards and providing the patients with the high quality of medical services. According to Berglund (2007), ethical principles for health practitioners are beneficence as provide the care to others, non-maleficence which present not harming patient is the priority for the health practitioner, autonomy to give the others the right to decide about their life, justice and respect for persons.

Following the ethical code in nursing practice would improve the quality of the services and patients’ satisfaction with them by responding honestly to patients’ questions for the purpose of influencing the outcomes of the health care plans (Bednarski, 2009). However, it is important that the ethical code should be applied by all the participants of the medical environment, including patients and health care practitioners. The ethical standards are the guideline for the nurses in making decision in their daily practice, taking into account the fact that respectful work environment and respectful communication would improve the quality of the nurses’ work (Murphy, 2006).

Providing Health Nursing Services in a Legal Context

Law and ethics issues are interrelated in the context of the nursing practice. In other words, nurses should be aware of their legal liability for violating the norms of professional ethics. Therefore, the peculiarities of the professional environment make nurses deal with legal issues related to their patients, clients or representatives of other professions. Statutory law is applied to nursing profession, as health care system has legislative norms which regulate its work.

Confidentiality is one of the factors that need to be considered in nursing practice. Patient’s health-related information is an issue of special concern which can be shared health providers only as well as with the patient if he asks for it. The results of patients’ X-ray, ECG and lab tests can be disclosed and released only after a patient gives a written consent to it (Brooke, 2003). Informed consent is for the patient’s protection, and the health provider should clearly discuss with the patient the current condition and all the details of the health care plan, explaining all the benefits and the negative consequences that may be caused by the procedures, and the patient has the right to refuse from it (Sims, 2008).

Furthermore, medication needs to be given to patient in a correct way, considering the right dose, the right schedule and the right route for minimizing the risks of the negative effects on the patient’s health, and following the rule of the accountability (Griffith, 2003). In addition, negligence contradicts the definition of professionalism in the context of nursing practice because the accountability and responsibility are the important components of the nurses’ competence. According to Young (2009), health practitioners’ negligence either in decision making or in communicating with patients is inadmissible. Civil law is applied to handle the cases of nurses’ negligence (Berglund, 2007).

Mechanisms for Monitoring the Nurses’ Work


Nurses could improve the quality of their work, implementing a number of mechanisms. The importance of the handover in the nursing profession is of crucial importance for sharing the patient’s information with the next shift. The significance of handover has been emphasized in a number of studies. The effective handover requires delivering the vital information on the patient condition and the health care plan from one shift to another for ensuring the patient’s safety and the consistency of work of the nursing staff (Scovell, 2010).

During the handover nurses may need to introduce the staff of the next shift to the patient, assessing patient’s condition, recording patient further requirements, which could be taken from the record form at the patient’s bedside, clarifying the controversial moments for avoiding the misunderstanding and professional errors (Tucker et al, 2009). Moreover, nurses would have clear information about patient condition and what patient needs, which will help them in delivering a high quality services to patient. However, the important of the communication skills between staff appeared to be a challenging factor having a significant impact on the effectiveness of work of health care practitioners.


Communication is considered as one of the most important factors that need to be taken into consideration for creating a collaborative framework and avoiding medical errors. According to Propp et al (2010), nurses, physicians and other health practitioners would identify the opportunities for collaboration and uniting their efforts for enhancing the effectiveness of decision making and by sharing their own professional knowledge and adopting the experience of the colleagues. In addition, patient’s involvement in the work on a health care plan increases clients’ satisfaction with health services and decreases the risk of occurrence of medical errors (Hilton, 2006).

Furthermore, McCaffery et al (2010) reported that sufficient communication amongst nurses and other health practitioners including medical residents is needed, and improvement of the listening skills as well as appropriate language while communicating with the representatives of other professions is required for effective cooperation of the staff. However, there are numerous factors that would decline the interdisciplinary communication and collaborative work environment. The high risk potential at the workplace, stressful environment, enormous workload and the issues of legal liability can decrease the effectiveness of communication in the nursing staff (Redman, 2010).

Teamwork Framework

Nurses interact with many others health practitioners such as physicians, social workers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists in hospitals or any other health institutions to provide the services to patients. Teamwork becomes crucial for all these professions including nurses to collaborate and unite their efforts for improving the health services outcome.

Teamwork in the interdisciplinary environment can be achieved by creating a collaborative atmosphere, organizing frequent group meetings with representatives of other health practitioner fields, sharing knowledge on work challenges and planning the possible ways for solving them as well as adopting the experience of other specialists (Huber, 2010). In addition, Clark (2009) addressed the issue of patient safety, emphasizing the importance of creating the collaborative atmosphere within the multidisciplinary nursing environment and developing the nurses’ teamwork skills.


In conclusion, this essay has defined and discussed the concept of professionalism in nursing practice and the strategies for delivering health care services in a safe, ethical and legal framework. The issues of professional ethics, reducing the risks of professional injuries, handover, communication and cooperation among nurses in interdisciplinary framework have been discussed as the key factors having impact on the effectiveness of the work of the nursing staff. The awareness of the safety, ethics and law issues is as important as knowledge of the latest achievements in the professional sphere for delivering the high quality health services and becoming a qualified specialist.

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