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OPINION

‘Remember that the people in our care put their trust in us’

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The four UK chief nursing officers (CNOs) for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Nursing and Midwifery Council have produced a framework, Enabling Professionalism, to support nurses and midwives across the UK to reflect on their practice and demonstrate how they are the hallmark of excellence in nursing and midwifery.

I believe everyone gets up in the morning or night to do a good job, make a real contribution to the care of people and to be happy in life. Of course there are many reasons why this is not always achievable.

“It’s about always doing the right thing. It doesn’t matter if no one is looking”

The health and social care system is going through transformational change across the UK and brings great opportunities for nursing but also many challenges. How these play out in practice is one good reason to support nurses and midwives to talk about good practice, support quality improvement and to challenge poor practice.

There have been a number of reports of poor standards of professionalism in the last few years from which we must learn. We the CNOs and NMC believe we can also learn by using a positive approach that helps us celebrate good practice, support improving practice and challenge poor practice. That should in no way detract from rectifying and preventing poor standards of care moving forward.

Enabling Professionalism is underpinned by the code and helps us prepare for revalidation. Its aim is to make sure the code is brought to life in practice, cementing the firm foundations of our professions, practice and behaviour. It’s about always doing the right thing. It doesn’t matter if no one is looking, checking or regulating. The people in our care put their trust in us.

“It was extremely challenging at times because professionalism means different things to different people”

The framework was co-produced by nominated people from the four countries. It has four themes, which reflect the four Ps of the code: being accountable, being a leader, being an advocate and being competent.

Enabling Professionalism will provide a foundation for and strengthen the leadership role that nurses and midwives have. Professionalism, while it means something different to everyone, being an inspirational role model providing the best possible care regardless of your position is fundamental to the future of the professions.

Nurses and midwives practising at graduate level are prepared with the knowledge and skills to provide person-centred care and services. They play a critical role in improving outcomes, enabling co-production through real partnership.

It has been a privilege for me to lead this work. It was extremely challenging at times because professionalism means different things to different people. Many align professionalism to a strong sense of values and people speak with passion about a strong value base in our professions. 

“People have found that applying the framework has helped them prepare for revalidation”

While values are important they have to be married with knowledge, professional judgement and critical inquiry to achieve the best outcomes. Registered nurses practising at graduate level, reflecting and learning through applying the enabling professionalism framework is a great way to influence outcomes.

Online tools to help you learn how you can apply the framework are available on the NMC website, which I would encourage every nurse and midwife to have a look at. People have found that applying the framework has helped them prepare for revalidation. It is short and so I hope you find it useful and relevant to practice.

Charlotte McArdle is chief nursing officer, Northern Ireland

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