Nursing Times’ student nurse blogger Katrina Michelle Rowan gives valuable insight into being a ‘professional’ nurse.
One of my lecturers asked me if I would be prepared to give a talk to the new intake of students regarding professionalism. In particular I was asked to share with the new students my journey towards becoming a qualified nurse. Writing down my journey has helped me realise just how much I have developed, but I can also acknowledge that I have many areas in which I need to expand my knowledge.
My personal belief is that becoming a professional is a series of steps. Most dictionaries broadly describe a professional as a person who in order to perform a job needs a high level of education and training.
Before I commenced my nurse training I worked in an office. I had been out of education for 12 years. Nursing had always been something I had an interest in but I always had something else to do 1st – go backpacking, see the world, settle down, get a mortgage, have babies.
Starting my training was an easy decision, but turning my back on a secure 9-5 job was a leap of faith. It was the best decision I have ever made.
Undertaking nursing education is part of becoming a professional. Learning about anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, reflective practice and clinical skills within the placement area and within the university setting is part of the journey.
For me – walking into my first ward in my student nurse uniform was a big step in becoming a professional. As soon as you put on that uniform you become a professional. It doesn’t matter that you’ve never given a bed bath; you’ve never given a suppository, never done CPR. You have a uniform on. The patients and the staff expect you to have knowledge and capability. They expect you to treat them with dignity, respect and compassion. The expect you to give them the best care that you are able.
Being a professional nurse means the patients in your care must be able to trust you, it means being up to date with best practice, it means treating your patients and colleagues with dignity, kindness, respect and compassion.
I understood the concept of this on my first placement but I didn’t fully understand until my eighth day on placement. The emergency buzzer went off – I answered it and ran head first into a cardiac arrest. I witnessed professionalism first hand as the nursing team tried to bring the patient back. I participated in CPR; I did the best I could within my capabilities.Unfortunately, the patient died.
It was that moment for me that shaped me and has defined my choices ever since. That moment is when I can pinpoint that I understood fully what being a professional was. Nursing is not just a job.
Being a professional nurse means the patients in your care must be able to trust you, it means being up to date with best practice, it means treating your patients and colleagues with dignity, kindness, respect and compassion. It means understanding the NMC code of conduct. It means being accountable.
I have had many experiences since that have helped me on my journey to becoming a qualified nurse. These have all shaped me and structured the way I view my nursing practice. I believe that a huge part of being a nurse encompasses humanity skills such as compassion, empathy, sympathy and kindness. I also believe having good communication skills are vital.
Nursing for me will never be “just a job”, it is something I have a huge passion for and each day is a learning experience. I have loved my training; I have been incredibly lucky and enjoyed all my placements. The patients, nurses, lecturers, other members of the hospital environment and my fellow students have all helped shape me into becoming the nurse I am. I know I still have a huge amount to learn, but I believe part of being a professional is acknowledging my limitations.
Finally, two of the most important things I have learnt on my journey is that becoming a nurse involves working as part of a huge team. The patient is the central, most important part of that team and should be at the centre of any interventions implemented.