Professionalism is subjective, there can be professional guidelines for many careers dependant on what vocation one chooses. For nursing, there are many guidelines in which one should adhere to. The nursing and midwifery council (NMC, 2010 [Online]) have a code for nurses to follow, incidentally it is called ‘The Code: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwifes’. Within these guidelines they state; ‘As a professional, you are personally accountable for actions and omission’s in your practice and must always be able to justify your decisions. You must always act lawfully, whether those laws relate to practice or personal life. Failure to comply with this code may bring your fitness to practice into question and endanger your registration.’ This for me is a valuable explanation of professionalism for nurses, and solidifies a set of values and attributes I personally feel I hold and can retain in my future career.
Nursing to me is not just about upholding the profession; it is about caring with compassion, assessing a situation and adjusting oneself to help in whatever way necessary, to counsel, to care, to promote health or perhaps just be there. Even though I myself am young I feel I have a great depth of personal experience that now I can use for greater purposes. I have been a service user and critically ill, I have felt grief, seen suffering through terminal illness and felt suffering through abuse. I am not particularly Christian, or devout so would not say that I have a ‘calling’ however I certainly am drawn to the complex nature of people, and if I can help whilst offering some comfort then that is a beautiful purpose in life.
If there were to be a challenge within nursing I may struggle with, one would certainly be caring for those whilst under pressure, with staff shortages, or not having adequate time to give the correct level of care. According to the RCN Employment Survey 2013, 58% of nurses say they are under too much pressure, with 55% reporting that they are unable to provide the level of care that they would like as a result of this pressure. (RCN, 2013 [Online]) The Francis report (2013) stated that poor staffing levels led to poor quality care. However no mandatory staffing levels were to be introduced. This is a concern especially as the population will continue to grow and age at such a rapid rate. One of the responses to the staffing levels from the Francis report was to increase the nurse workforce by 3,700 by the end of the financial year. However many posts remained unfilled. The RCN launched a report ‘hidden workforce crisis’ that estimates a shortage of 47,000 nurses by 2016. (RCN, 2013 [Online])
From this brief look at what becoming a professional, and identifying a key issue within the NHS today, it is clear that nursing is a vocation which is not just a job, we are caring compassionate people