Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Professional Standards and Expectations for Nurses

By: Stephanie Larkin


Every major profession carries with it a group of expectations and standards by which those that work within each industry must adhere to in order to maintain quality practice. These standards are, in many ways, how institutions and businesses gain the trust of their clients, or in the case of nursing the trust of their patients, which enables the institution to become legitimate.

There is no business sector which needs standards and expectations more than any profession within the medical and health services field. This is a field by which employees are working with people on a daily basis, and the quality of their lives and health care. As such, maintaining a set of practices and standards are imperative. Because nursing is the profession through which more patients will have one on one contact with than many other professions in health services, standards are even more important. While each country and each specialization of nursing carries with it its own unique sets of standards and expectations, nurses have a common ground where they meet, and why their standards are understood across every field, and every country.

Standards within a professional practice are known as statements of an authoritative nature through which the profession to which they relate to provide a unique description of the responsibilities of all practitioners within that profession. Further, the standards and expectations are in place to ensure that all practitioners are also accountable for the work and duties they perform. When it comes to nursing, this is done in order to create boundaries and to provide a level of care that is equitable for all patients. Further, the priorities and values of nurses must be common to each nurse within the profession, and the standards and expectations outlines this as such.

While standards will vary in specifics across nursing specializations, and across countries, there is a general mindset as to what is expected of nurses in terms of expectations and standards. They are intended to provide daily guidance to nurses as they practice. Accountability, ethics, competence, knowledge, and the practical application of knowledge are key elements that are common to all nursing standards and expectations.

Nurses are required to be held accountable for every action that they take on a daily basis. This requires constant documentation of every element of their daily job, and following a chain of command within their select position. They are also required to maintain ethical standards within their practice, and to follow all ethical guidelines as set forth by their governing body of nursing. Furthermore, nurses are expected to have a set amount of knowledge before they enter the field of practitioner work, and with that knowledge set come an expectation of competence and practical application. Nurses are expected to be competent in their knowledge base such that they know and understand what they are supposed to in the medical field, and also, are supposed to know how to apply that knowledge in a practical manner.

For example, nurses will be taught in school how to implement an IV procedure. Knowing how to do this is not enough, nurses should be able to apply this knowledge practically through the actual conduct of IV procedures, and should be capable and competent of doing so.

Quality Assurance is another issue that is common across all standards and expectations for nurses. Through this, quality assurance standards ensure that nurses are practicing with quality efforts which in itself promote their competence and practical applications. This will require continuous education on the part of the individual nurse, as quality assurance standards across many medical centers, cities, and countries are in a constant state of evolution. It is the responsibility of the nurse practitioner to understand their quality assurance expectations at all times.

Confidentiality is another element of most standards and expectations for nurses. This is a requirement that nurses do not have an option to practice or not. Legislation and privacy concerns are in effect all across the globe, and nurses have the expectation that they will maintain confidential and private information for their patients within the patient doctor realm. Patients use medical services under the understanding that their information and medical records are not being seen by the wrong person, or found in the wrong hands, and because nurses have the most contact between patient and doctor, these are standards of paramount significance to the nursing profession.

While these are only a tip of the iceberg when it comes to nursing standards and expectations, these standards are among the most common across specializations and countries.

2 comments:

  1. The problem is not the standards and positions that guide our professional conduct but the lack of law and regulation to back the standards up. The ownership is put on the nurse and the institutions are supposed to enforce the standards through policies and procedure guidelines. We as nurses are told through our nurse practice acts and bodies like the ANA to refuse assignments that are outside our level of competence and to insure the safety of our patients. We however are forced to assume care for patients beyond our abilities. We routinely work understaffed and the institution makes no change in capacity. What is not addressed in any real way is the requirements of the institutions to give the nurses the means to comply with all the standards.

    Dangerously inadequate staffing, shortage of supplies, lack of continuing education, diminishing importance and compensation for certifications and general disregard for patient safety are all areas that the institutions have control. There is no real set of standards in place to address all these issues and certainly no real penalty for violation of these basics. Hospitals are cutting wherever they see fit to increase profit and patients and the nursing profession are suffering.

    Until standards are made universal that apply to all states and have a body that ensures those standards, nothing will really improve and nurses will continue to be dissatisfied and leave the profession earlier than they might otherwise.

    Michael Chapman RN, BSN

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  2. Hi I want to know whats the salary of a registered nurse with a bachelors ?What is the role of the nurse or other health care professionals in promoting the nutritional health?

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