Professionalism in Nursing: 5 Tips to Keep Things Professional

professionalism in nursingBy Erin Wallace

Professionalism in nursing typically refers to the attitude and behavior of nurses working together. 

Being comfortable in a hospital environment and getting along with your fellow nurses can increase your job satisfaction, but it's important to maintain professionalism with your colleagues, especially when you work as a nurse manager or shift leader.

You can have positive, rewarding relationships with your colleagues, while also maintaining professionalism in nursing. 

Put some of these tips for maintaining professionalism in nursing into practice.

Professionalism in Nursing: 5 Ways to Stay Professional 

1. Be Friendly, but Not Friends

Joyce Mikal-Flynn Ed.D., RN, FSP, MSN, says, “Professionalism begins with you. If you are expecting professionalism on the job, each nurse must model this behavior personally.”

If you're a nurse manager or in a leadership role, you should model professional behavior to your team so they can learn from you. 

“You can and should be friendly with those you lead or the teams you manage. You just cannot be friends,” says Mikal-Flynn.

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2. Professionalism in Nursing Prioritizes Patient Care

As a nurse, your first priority is patient care. 

Treating patients as individuals and respecting their dignity are of utmost importance for maintaining professionalism in healthcare facilities. 

This involves recognizing that every patient is different with individual needs and ailments.

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3. Surround Yourself with Different Views in Leadership Positions

Dr. Mikal-Flynn points out, "In professional situations ... you must always have people on the team who disagree with you – they bring in different views.” 

She warns not to confuse diverse opinions with disagreeable people who “do it for sport and not perspective and growth.”

4. Separate your Work and Home Life

Managers and practicing RNs benefit from a healthy work-life balance, which helps providers maintain professionalism in nursing. 

“You are not allowed to bring your personal issues to work,” says Mikal-Flynn, who advises nurses to “deal with [personal issues] separately and focus on patient care at work.” 

The use of self-care activities improves the balance between work and life.

5. Stay Grounded

Rudeth Shaughnessy, a professional consultant in the medical field, says, "Familiarity with coworkers can occasionally tempt unprofessionalism." 

She recommends that nurses "try to see the world through the eyes of the patients to stay grounded.”

She noted that most people have experienced stress in a hospital setting, either with themselves or family members, and insight from these experiences can help guide behavior. 

“Encountering unprofessional staff in those trying times,” says Shaughnessy, “would be a terrible experience, and it is through this type of conscious introspection that nurses can remind themselves of the importance of medical professionalism.”

Whether you're an RN or a nurse manager, use these five tips for maintaining professionalism in nursing to help ensure your patients are getting the best care possible.

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