Throughout the years there has been a common misinterpretation about the image of nursing. At most times this image is negative and represents the profession in an unconstructive manner. Nurses have the potential to change this image. They can take initiative in many different areas of social involvement. One area that can influence the roles and representations nurses have in society is continuing education or advanced degrees. A second area is social impression which can be influenced by the demonstration of professionalism.
The last area nurses can positively affect to improve the professions image, is through public relations and education. Through these areas of social involvement nurses can make a difference by being proactive and presenting a more positive portrayal of nursing. In order for a nurse to obtain higher education there has to be initiative and desire. This includes a want to increase self knowledge and perseverance. Nurses who are continuing and achieving higher education can raise the bar in demonstrating professionalism.
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In many two year associate programs throughout the country, professionalism is never taught or concentrated on because of dense course material compacted into two years. In these programs students are taught to be proficient at performing skills, not managing conflict on units or conducting research. To better prepare nursing students for career advancement, associate degree of nursing programs (ADN) can benefit by implementing professionalism throughout their curriculum.
This would potentially increase the number of students in Bachelors of Science degrees in Nursing (BSN) and at least clarify advantages and disadvantages to higher education. If Nurses from ADN programs were to pursue higher education it would ultimately improve the image of nursing. These nurses would be better trained professionals and present themselves with prestige. Communication with coworkers and patients would be improved and burnout rates would decrease.
To help facilitate the change nurses can take advantage of tuition reimbursement or assistance programs that are provided by many nursing facilities and employers. Furthermore patients would have better outcomes and nurses would be safer practitioners, eventually improving the nurses’ demonstration of professionalism. What does it mean to be a professional? According to Merriam-Webster (2010) the definition of a professional is characterized by conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession. These standards can integrate many different aspects that are vital to the nursing field.
For instance a title or the way in which a nurse is called, can represent professionalism. In the book from Silence to Voice, Buresh and Gordon (2006) suggest that nurses should be called by their last name (for example, Nurse Huerta). These authors stress that all trained and educated health care professionals (such as doctors) are called by their last name. So why should nurses be any different? A title should be as important as a person’s name. It presents nurses to patients in a sophisticated well educated manner. This type of communication emphasizes professionalism.
In addition, Buresh and Gordon mention that the way in which nurses communicate with each other needs to reflect their trained and educational backgrounds, “Nurses must communicate in ways that highlight nurses’ knowledge rather than their virtues” (Buresh et al. , 2006). This also includes communication with your team and coworkers. Because of high stress levels in hospitals, respect for one another is often challenged or omitted. It is definitely hard work to maintain a professional communication when a patient, coworker, or physician is yelling at you.
What can nurses do to assist with this? Being aware of maintaining professionalism and not initially reacting could potentially help. This portrays the nurse in a better manner and maintains her presentation. Presentation is often critical in maintaining professionalism. In an article by RNweb. com several nursing students having a car wash, were in bikinis trying to raise money. The article mentions that nurses “need not only speak out against negative, unbecoming portrayals of nurses, but we also need to avoid being part of the problem ourselves (Spear, 2005). Nurses and nursing students all need to be aware of their actions and professionalism needs to be addressed. In the workplace, Jewelry should be limited with no long chains or earrings. There should be no artificial nails. Tattoos and body piercings should be covered. The nurse should also be aware of any unintentional body language or mannerism that is perceived by the patient. In addition, it is essential for nurses to uphold their code of ethics in maintaining professionalism. When you say you are going to do something for a patient a nurse needs to fulfill that duty.
The nurse needs to remember these ethics in their everyday lives and practice to enhance professionalism. If initiated, these areas needing improvement in the nursing field would benefit the profession. This could eventually lead to improved public relations and education. In order for the public and patients to understand what exactly it is nurses do, we need to educate them about the profession of nursing. The public and our patients need to understand that we are trained professionals who can critically think, advocate, monitor, and intervene when needed.
Nurses are not just pill pushers, typical Nurse Jackie’s, or emblematic naughty nurses. This misapprehension is usually a false or stereotypical understanding portrayed by the media and society. How do we initiate change? There are many ways nurses can be proactive in education of the public. For example, nurses can talk to editors of books and newspapers. They can communicate with the media and schedule legislative meetings. Nurses can participate in political healthcare campaigns. Nurses can also participate in community outreach activities or seminars.
There are many professional organizations nurses can join to implement change. The list is endless. In addition, time and time again the profession of nursing has ranked the number one profession that the public trusts. Yet when asking an engineer about his knowledge of nursing, he knew seldom. And at a recent hospital orientation the Director of Public relations (who will remain anonymous) said, “I am not a nurse, I only know what is portrayed by the media. ” This is shameful that public knowledge about nursing is what is on T. V. We have all seen shows such as Nurse Jackie, Grey’s Anatomy and Scrubs.
The content in these and many other shows does not display what everyday nursing is all about. “The producers missed a huge opportunity to represent the nursing profession in an ethical respectable manner (Balkstra, 2009). ” Nursing characters “have evolved from the sex object to romantic love interest for the physician character. That won’t do much for recruitment efforts to hire qualified professionals,” (Summers, 2003). Whether you agree with the shows or not, does not minimize the necessity to educate the public about what nurses actually do.
Education of the public and patients would lead to a better understanding of the profession and potentially create better patient outcomes and awareness. In conclusion, through these areas of social involvement nurses can make a difference by being proactive and presenting a more positive portrayal of nursing. Many people enter the profession because of the different opportunities available. In order to grow in the field, nurses need to increase their standards for education and implement change.
The demonstration of professionalism will help nurses create a better image and social impression. The public image of nursing is not always accurate or some have no idea what nurses actually do. With public education nurses can assist with the positive portrayal of the profession and increase positive public relations. References American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed. ). Washington, D. C. : American Psychological Association. Balkstra, C. (2009). President’s message.
Let’s move forward with a positive image of nursing. Georgia Nursing, 69(3), 1. Buresh, B. & Gordon, S. (2006) From Silence to Voice: What nurses know and must communicate to the public. Ithaca, NY:ILR Press. Professional. 2010. In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved May 7, 2008, from http://www. merriam-webster. com/medlineplus/professional Spear, H. (2005). Mail box. Let’s stand up and promote a positive image of nursing. RN, 68(6), 12. Summers, S. (2003). Outliers: asides & insides. Group crusades against how TV shows portray nurses’ role. Modern Healthcare, 33(48), 36.