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Professional Values, Attitudes, and Behaviours of Nurses

Info: 2756 words (11 pages) Nursing Essay
Published: 20th Oct 2021

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Nursing practitioners, much like other professionals, have unique binding values, attitudes and behaviors. This paper outlines these values and their significance to nursing practitioners in their daily practice. Two theories of nursing form the basis of this project. These theories are important since despite the evolving nature of the nursing profession over time due to technological advancements, the underlying principle of caring still serves as the major motivation for all nursing practitioners.

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In addition, professional values form the basis for acceptable behavior and attitude in the nursing profession. The development of these values is critical for every nurse in making important decisions in healthcare. Nursing practitioners must also exhibit certain attitudes and behaviors in their profession to carry out their major role of caring. It is evident that nursing is highly dependent on one’s morals and a sense of responsibility to the client. Nurses belong to associations that support and regulate their activities. Some major values of the nursing profession are altruism, accountability, commitment and human dignity. These professional values develop in response to culture, society and individual personality traits.

This paper focuses on Madeleine Leininger’s theory of trans-cultural nursing and Hildegard Peplau’s interpersonal theory of nursing. According to Leininger, the goal of nursing is to provide care consistent with cultural values, beliefs, and practices. Leininger states that care is the essence of nursing and the dominant, distinctive and unifying feature. She says there can be no cure without caring, but that there may be caring with curing. Health care personnel should therefore work towards understanding the values, health beliefs, and life-styles of different cultures, which will form the basis for providing culture-specific care. The concept of empathy is nowadays part of the professional curriculum in nursing regardless of the nursing student’s gender.

Peplau on the other hand, views nursing as a maturing force realized as the personality develops through educational, therapeutic, and interpersonal processes. Nurses enter into a personal relationship with an individual when a felt need is present. She defines the nurse-patient relationship as evolving through various stages of the caring process. Caring as an important component of human relationships is the basis of the nursing profession. Caring is informed concern with encompassing involvement that is more than benevolence, sympathy, or even compassion.

According to Masters (2009), nursing as a profession requires prolonged and specialized learning to acquire the relevant knowledge. He further adds that it demands full commitment of the individual towards public service. This profession, much like others has specific values that govern all nursing practitioners. Nursing practitioners and their professional bodies define these professional values as standards of behavior for acceptable action. These professional values adopted by nurses’ act as the principles, ideals and standards held by nurses to give meaning and direction to their daily conduct. These values further provide a framework for evaluating nurses’ beliefs and attitudes.

Fry, Veatch & Taylor (2010) suggest that values are the desirable rational conceptions, and standards that guide behavior. By adhering to this set of values, nurses have developed a caring attitude towards their patients and families. These set values further provide the benchmark for critical thinking and decision making in the course of practicing nursing. Moreover, these values also aid in conflict resolution and in prioritizing actions concerning patient’s welfare.

Nursing values intensify as nurses grow through their career and face new challenges. Professional values influence behavior, therefore people lacking in values development, may lack direction, and critical thinking skills. The latter are is a very significant factor within the nursing field. In this sense, adherence to these principles in daily nursing practice can be a major problem for potential nurses who are not fully committed to the profession. The core values that form the foundation of the nursing profession are altruism, autonomy, human dignity, and social justice.


Altruism is the ability to be selfless and instead have a dedication to the welfare of others. In the nursing profession, the nurse provides love and shows kindness for not only her patient but also for herself. A nurse must maintain calmness within herself when with a patient in order to fully support and provide security for their patient. Moreover, this is important for the nurse to prevent burnout and stress which may hinder them carrying out their duty effectively. In order to obtain and secure these humanistic-altruistic values, the nurse must exhibit unending love, kindness and mental awareness at all times. Altruism is essential in unlocking a nurse’s compassion and empathy therefore creating a more positive and healing environment for the patient.

Nurses are ethically required to take care of patients and in some instances endangering their lives. For example, they intervene to stop a violent patient to protect other patients at the risk of suffering physical harm. Furthermore, they give medicine to patients with contagious diseases and endangering their own lives in the process. In nursing, altruism is the most important characteristic in the nurse-patient relationship to securing the most appropriate care and a conducive environment for healing their patient. If a nurse is not fully committed to their patient, the latter may be susceptible to a regressive healing environment causing a negative outcome for the patient.


Autonomy in the nurse-patient relationship nursing gives the patient a right to informed consent. The nurse gives his patient the facts on his condition and advises him on the available healing options plus any underlying repercussions. The patient then has the right to choose to go through the procedure or not. Only in cases where the patient is mentally unfit is a health care surrogate or an attorney allowed to make for them these decisions. Therefore, competent adults have the capacity to consent to or refuse treatment and nurses have an obligation to respect the client’s wishes, even if they have a contrary opinion.

Professional nurse autonomy is reliant on the premise of the centrality of the client when making responsible discretionary decisions. These should reflect the best interests of the patient whether made independently or on advice of the nurse.

Autonomy is also a form of advocacy for the patient to ensure they make well-informed decisions. The most critical attributes for a nurse who regards autonomy is caring. Proactive advocacy and friendly relationships with patients also enhance patient discretion in decision-making.

Human Dignity

The nursing profession demands dignity for all patients. All people are equal and they warrant the same treatment regardless of any external factors. The principle of human dignity accords the nurse the responsibility to treat all patients as they would treat their own loved ones if they were to care for them. Therefore, a nurse regards all human beings as being worthy and deserving of unconditional respect, regardless of age, sex, health status, social or ethnic factors, political ideologies, religious affiliation, or criminal history.


Nurses conform to the principles of acting honestly, fairly, and ethically while sticking to their role of caring for the needy. They must hold each other to the highest standards of professionalism and ethical conduct. Nurses must further be honest to their colleagues in the profession and to those who rely on them. Nurses must also exhibit accountability in providing safe, quality care towards their professional bodies, colleagues and patients (Mc Sherry, Mc Sherry & Watson, 2012)

Social Justice

Nurses are required to uphold freedom of choice in their patients’ care, while not compromising their dignity. Nurses endeavor to promote their clients’ best interests and strive to achieve the best outcomes. Beneficence entails nurses promoting good for the patient. Nurses are also required to act in a non-maleficence manner to avoiding harm to their patient. Through acting competently and adhering to high levels of practicing, they avoid situations that may cause injury to those in their care.

Attitudes and Behaviors of Nurses

Fry, Veatch & Taylor (2010) argue that personal values, such as respect, responsibility, and obligation are dependent on the moral attitude of the nurse. Professional attitudes in nursing comprise of inclinations, feelings and emotions that conform to their principles and serve as the basis for their behavior. Professional behavior or behavioral professionalism however is behaving in a manner to achieve optimal outcomes in professional tasks and interactions.

Nurses address complex ethical and human rights issues on a regular basis. The American Nurses Association Board of Directors and the Congress on Nursing Practice outlines the code of responsibilities and conduct expected of nurses in their practice. Nurses comply with some standards of ethical practice that guide their behaviors. A revision to the codes in 2001 sought to include issues of advancing nursing science and based on the opinions and experience of a wide range of nurses. The ANA approved nine provisions that address ethical practice issues such as compassion and respect, the nurse’s primary commitment to the patient, patient advocacy, responsibility and accountability, duties, participation in the healthcare environment, advancement of the profession, and collaboration.

Among the policies enforced by the nurses association is confidentiality of information provided by patients. In medical services, confidentially involves keeping the information relating to the patient private. Confidentiality agreements bind nurses to non-disclosure of patient information to third parties without their signed consent.

Nurses make use of their professional bodies as a major reference in cases where they are required to make major decisions regarding patient treatment. Their colleagues act as the major source of professional ideas and judgments in their practice.

Nurses hold a personal belief in service to the public. They therefore believe that their professional practice is indispensable to society and are inclined to do their best. They provide services wholeheartedly with little focus on the financial benefits but rather on making the society a better place to live in.

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Nurses normally belong to nursing bodies of their home countries that serve as self-regulation authorities. In case of misconduct, the nursing body composed of peers in the profession passes judgment on their colleagues based on their governing principles. The nursing bodies also constructive conduct peer assessment on their members to improve competitiveness and performance. Constructive criticism is widely acceptable as a means of reducing recurrent errors of judgment.

Nurses must possess a sense of calling to the field to carry out their duties appropriately. This field requires full dedication to patients regardless of extrinsic rewards. Their selfless activities during warfare where they commit themselves to alleviating suffering of innocent victims are enough evidence to this.

Nurses are autonomous to the extent that they make professional decisions without external pressures from clients, non-professionals, and employers. By abiding to the basic principles of nursing, they are able to make critical decisions regarding their patients’ welfare. However, in cases where they are not sure, they may consult with their peers. The final decisions must serve the best interest of the patient in case of conflicting interest from external parties.

With the advancement of new technology, nurses have been generally receptive to new ideas in healthcare. They have been at the foremost in adoption of improved medical equipment to assist in care giving. Nurses also value new experiences and have therefore taken on more challenging tasks to work in the most hostile places on earth.

Ethical responsibilities that guides nurses’ behavior

A nursing practitioner must show compassion and respect for the dignity of the individual. He or she is therefore unrestricted by economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of the disease. For example, a nurse might not be comfortable with caring for an alcoholic client. However, she is ethically obligated to provide the best and most compassionate care possible.

Nurses must always be committed to the client at all times. In case the family and community are included in decision-making, she must be accommodative to their ideas whether even in cases where she does not agree. After giving any due advice expected of them, nurses must respect the client’s wishes in the matter.

The nurse must always serve as an advocate for the client. The nurse also is responsible for protecting the health, safety, and rights of the client. The principle of non-maleficence may require the nurse to move a patient from a poorly ventilated room or a congested hospital ward. The nurse should also report suspected abuse to prevent further victimization of patients.

The nurse is responsible and accountable for delegating tasks consistent with optimal patient care. She must therefore work in collaboration with other healthcare workers to ensure patients receive the best treatment even in her absence. Any irregularities in the course of hospitalization are avoidable if she properly coordinates with the doctors and other nurses.

Nurses ought to preserve their own integrity and act competently at all times. Advancing educational qualifications and keeping abreast with new technology are vital to achieving both personal and professional growth. Nurses are therefore required to take additional course units regularly to keep their practicing licenses and remain relevant. Continuous participation in the advancement of the profession through research further raises the profile of committed nurses.

The nurse is responsible for maintaining the reputation of nursing through her practice. She is therefore carries out her roles with dignity and avoids scandals that destroy the reputation of the profession.

High membership and active participation in their professional body raises the profile of the nurses in the society. Through promoting activities that foster ethical values in nursing the professional body is able to build a formidable block to sway public opinion. The professional organizations can therefore push for social policy reforms that better their work environment.


Nurses need to distinguish between their personal values and professional ethics. Personal values are what nurses hold significant and true for themselves, while professional ethics involve principles that have universal applications and standards of conduct that apply in all situations. Nurses must remember these core values and follow them to the best of their ability. During the good and bad times, they need to remember why they decided to become a nurse and their vision as to what they want to achieve. They must always remember to put the care of others first and to treat everyone equally. A person who chooses nursing as a profession makes a choice that will affect them for a lifetime. Nurses thus avoid allowing personal judgments to cloud their decisions regarding client care. They are honest and fair with clients and act in their best interest while showing utmost respect for them. New graduates entering the workforce also need to be prepared to engage in the complex critical thinking skills and develop sufficient socialization skills to deal with the enormous growth in technology and responsibilities expected in the profession.


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