The topic of professionalism seems quite broad and daunting. It is hard to describe in a sweet little sentence or even a three paged double spaced paper. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of professionalism is, “the skill, the judgement, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well (2015). ” So what does that mean? Professionalism is many things to many people and may include the way we behave and the actions we make.
Key to exhibiting professionalism is maintaining a positive attitude that shows respect and acceptance towards others at all times and under all circumstances. A positive attitude creates an environment that helps cheer people up and make life a little easier at the workplace. We have all been there, you have a million things on your plate to do, you are getting behind schedule, and you keep getting bugged by that one patient over and over again who keeps pressing their call light every five minutes to ask what time lunch is or to complain about it taking too long to arrive.
A positive attitude may include putting on a facade and a smile on your face and answering their questions politely and accurately when you really want to scream at the top of your lungs and call it quits (Walker, Clendon, & Walton, 2015). Lunch may not seem like a big deal, but to a patient who may not be able to remember when their last meal was, it becomes a priority. A positive attitude may also include leaving your baggage at the door and avoid oversharing about your personal life (Walker, et al. , 2015). No one wants to hear Negative Nancy talk about her tenth breakup of the year or how underpaid she is for how much work she does.
Patients may feed into this negativity and think differently about the facility they are seeking care from. Coworkers may have a hard time being around this type of personality and find it distracting when all they are trying to do is perform their job well. It can also make it more challenging for them to maintain a good attitude while dealing with the daily stressors of their own lives. Working or being taken care of by an employee with a positive attitude can be the difference between having a good day or a bad day. It can also promote a more rapid recovery for your patients.
Respect is showing a willing attitude to work hard, listen to others, be present and in the moment (Potter, Perry, Stockert, & Hall, 2015). Working hard and completing your job thoroughly shows fellow employees that you are fully engaged and share in the same goal of giving the best possible care to your patients. It also shows that you respect your fellow coworkers by exhibiting that you will shoulder an equitable share of the workload. This also shows respect to your employer and lets your employer know that you care about your job and that you want to reflect the best of your employer.
Listening to others and being fully present is another way to show respect (Potter, et al. , 2015). For a patient, this may mean getting away from behind the computer and focusing your attention directly towards the patient by facing towards them. This conveys that you are paying attention and actively listening to their concerns. . When attentively listening, you should avoid finishing their sentences and consider restating what was said to validate that you understand what it important to the patient. Listening also includes clarifying anything that was said that you did not understand (Morrison-Valfre, 2013).
Showing presence is also another form of communication that conveys your commitment to providing quality care. It shows the person that you are there for them. You can show presence by letting the patient know you have time for them and not asking questions from the doorway or otherwise expressing impatience (Potter, et al. , 2015). It also allows you to pick up on communication cues that may not be expressed verbally. These nonverbal cues can be very important for the nurse to pick up and may help them identify something that they may have issed before (Morrison-Valfre, 2013).
Showing respect allows people to feel comfortable knowing that they will be treated well and that they will be heard. Acceptance is taking care of patients equally know matter what their differences are or how they live their lives. You do not have to agree with your patient and their behaviors and actions, but you do have to accept them in order to provide the best care possible. In acceptance we should avoid being judgmental or showing disapproval. By doing this, we are showing the patient that they must think and act like we do.
This shows a lack of respect for our patient as a unique individual with their own thoughts and ideas. This can also be a very large barrier for communication and may cause the patient to not be fully honest with you (Morrison-Valfre, 2013). “Conveying acceptance means that you are nonjudgmental and demonstrate unconditional respect. As a nurse you are expected to provide high quality care regardless of social, economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of the illness (Potter, et al. , 2015, P. 189).
As a nurse in the workplace we will need to display professionalism in many different ways and to many different people. Professionalism extends beyond the patients we care for and should include the family members and friends who care for them. Professionalism also extends to the multitude of fellow employees that we work with including other nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, doctors, and the list goes on and on. Our level of professionalism also reflects directly on our employer and how they are represented when we are working.
There will be times that it will be very hard to maintain a professional attitude because of hardships in our own lives or because of a difficult patient or coworkers with whom we work. True professionalism is shown when you are able to overcome these obstacles and put your best foot forward. Maintaining a positive attitude while giving respect and showing acceptance of others are key attributes a nurse must have in order to maintain professionalism in the workplace.