You will hear the phrase “you must act professionally” many times as you enter into your nursing training, but what does it really mean? Rather than it simply being about turning up adhering to the uniform guidelines and being punctual, it is more about your attitude and behaviour, explains student NT editor, Alisha Poole.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) set the standards that you as a student are expected to meet, so becoming familiar with the NMC Code will help to clarify what is expected of you. Failing to adhere to the code may lead to you being withdrawn from the course, or a registered nurse being removed from the register so it is really important that you understand this.
The Code has four main principles:
1. Practice effectively
This is about being accountable for your actions. Using relevant evidence to inform your practice and ensuring that you stay up to date with new information. Utilising problem-solving skills and challenging poor practice. Regular reflection will help to identify where you are doing well and areas for improvement.
2. Promote professionalism and trust
This encompasses being a leader, working autonomously and coordinating care. Being honest and open in every aspect of care.
3. Prioritise people
This is being an advocate for your patients, speaking on their behalf when they need you. Working compassionately and having the emotional resilience to cope.
4. Preserve safety
This is about being competent in your practice. Making sure that your training is up to date, keeping up with new information and guidelines. Critical thinking skills that you will learn during your training will help you in this area,
There are also additional standards that sit underneath the code which you should take the time to read alongside it. These cover things such as;
• Standards for pre-registration nursing education
• Standards for competence for registered nurses
The NMC have set these standards for education, training, conduct and performance. This will help to make it clear what is expected of students and registered professionals throughout their training and career meaning they can provide high quality care at all times.
The NMC website also has some guidance on raising concerns, social media usage and duty of candour which you should definitely read. It points out relevant legislation and it will make sure that you are aware of which paths to follow should you have a concern, and how to conduct yourself on social media.
For more information on professionalism the NMC have developed some guidance called “enabling professionalism”, there is also some blogs about professionalism, animations to guide professionalism in practice and an article helping you to reflect on what professionalism means to you.
The Nursing and Midwife Council website is full of great information to support your training and future practice as a nurse. Your university should also offer some support and guidance for you if you are struggling.
The most important thing to remember is if you are struggling to understand what is expected of you, ask!