9 Ways To Demonstrate Your Professionalism in Nursing

Ingrid Monteiro

Updated September 23, 2022

Published May 11, 2021

Ingrid Monteiro is a health care writer with a passion for advising on careers related to the health care industry. In her 15 years of experience in academia and in the health care industry, she has worked with some of the best researchers in top universities in the world and in Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies.

A health care professional in light blue scrubs smiles at a patient in the foreground at a clinical setting. The person has a stethoscope draped around their neck.

Nurses are responsible for delivering the best possible quality of care to their patients. No matter how experienced a nurse is, prioritizing professionalism and actively working on their professional development is important for upholding the values and core competencies of the health care industry. Learning about professionalism in nursing can help you improve your ability to function in a medical environment.

In this article, we explain what professionalism in nursing is and why it's important and provide nine tips to help nurses demonstrate professionalism at work.

What is professionalism in nursing?

Professionalism in nursing is how well a health care professional embodies the core values of integrity, responsibility, advocacy and accountability while providing top-quality care to patients. Nurses demonstrate their professionalism skills when they commit to their role, uphold the highest standards of ethical behavior, have the right attitude and show respect toward others.

In nursing, professionalism also often means striving to improve nursing methods and standards. Professionalism can benefit everyone in the health care setting, including patients, caregivers, coworkers and yourself. This is important in nursing because it ensures that nurses achieve the highest standards of care for patients.

Professionalism also helps nurses care directly for their patients and work effectively as part of a team. It also can drive their professional development because nurses who prioritize professionalism may improve their workplace by providing excellent care to their patients, increasing communication across their health care team and holding themselves and others accountable for the quality of care they deliver.

Nurses who demonstrate professionalism streamline health care processes within their facilities to minimize mistakes and create a positive atmosphere. They strive to create a close-knit team of health care professionals and avoid conflicts among staff and patients or caregivers.

Related: Guide to Professionalism in the Workplace

9 ways to demonstrate professionalism in nursing

Here are nine ways nurses can uphold professionalism in their workplace:

1. Communicate effectively

Good communication skills are essential for nurses to provide adequate care to patients and minimize errors when they're discharging their duties. Nurses can communicate effectively with patients by explaining instructions or procedures using simple words and in terms the patient understands.

Nurses also can use effective communication skills with other members of their health care team. Good communication may help them describe changes in a patient's condition or to ask for help with completing tasks. Nurses also use good written communication skills and the ability to create and maintain accurate, well-written patient records in their daily work.

Read more: 20 Communication Techniques in Nursing To Improve Care

2. Have a positive attitude

A positive attitude can help nurses adapt to the challenges they may face on the job. Nursing often is a fast-paced profession where you may make quick decisions in difficult situations. Developing a positive attitude can allow you to improve your confidence and resilience when you have challenges at work.

A positive attitude also can improve your connections with patients and coworkers. Patients may respond to your positive attitude by feeling comforted and assured of your ability to care for them. Nurses also try to align their attitudes with the goals and standards their organization sets.

Read more: Why Attitude Is Important and 11 Tips for Maintaining a Positive Attitude

3. Attend to patients with compassion

Besides delivering physical care to patients, nurses also provide them with emotional support by showing compassion. This can help them attend to their patients' emotional needs, especially during critical times.

Compassion includes listening to patients empathetically and validating their experiences, having patience when attending to individuals and advocating for patient needs and preferences.

Demonstrating compassion towards patients and their families can improve patient health outcomes and hasten recovery. Compassion in health care also includes developing a bond with patients and their families, identifying their needs and using a gentle voice and body language to instill confidence in them.

Related: How To Be Empathetic in the Workplace

4. Deliver top-quality care

A nurse's primary responsibility is to deliver the best quality of care to all patients efficiently and safely. To deliver top-quality care, nurses follow evidence-based guidelines for practice and take an individualized, patient-centered approach, instead of a more generalized approach.

They use their knowledge to provide excellent medical care and advice, ask for help when they need it and respond punctually to patient concerns. By using their resources, including their knowledge, training and team of health care specialists, nurses can ensure they meet their patients' needs for physical and emotional care.

Related: What Is First-Time Quality? (Definition, Benefits and Tips)

5. Collaborate with others

Although nurses may work independently at times, they also can collaborate and work well with others. Collaborating with other members of the health care team means asking for help when challenges surpass their knowledge or abilities to manage them. It also means lending support to other members of their health care team when they need it.

Nurses can collaborate with those they work with by being dependable, adaptable, showing support and participating in group activities. Collaboration also involves striving to build interdepartmental and inter-specialty relationships.

Read more: Guide to Interprofessional Collaboration in Health Care

6. Be accountable for your actions

Nurses are accountable for knowing and following guidelines and regulations to protect their patients and ensure their safety. They may make quick decisions on the job and take responsibility for the choices they make.

If a nurse makes a mistake, such as recording an inaccurate detail on a patient's record, they can show accountability by contacting the appropriate person to revise the mistake. They also can respond to mistakes by offering solutions to resolve problems. Nurses can also demonstrate accountability by knowing their limits and seeking help when they could use it.

Read more: 6 Steps To Improve Accountability In Your Workplace

7. Dress professionally

Nurses show professionalism by maintaining good personal hygiene and dressing and presenting themselves professionally at the workplace. Some health care facilities may have firm guidelines on how they expect nurses to dress, style their hair and wear makeup. Other establishments may be more flexible.

Meeting your facility's standards for personal presentation can help you make a good impression on your patients and coworkers. Dressing professionally can help you feel prepared for your work shift. For example, having a routine for getting dressed before work may help you feel mentally focused and ready to work.

Read more: The Importance of Dressing Professionally at Work

8. Stay knowledgeable about current standards for best practice

Nursing best practices may change over time, so it's important for nurses to stay knowledgeable about current standards. New research may alter existing policies or techniques in nursing care.

Recent studies can also introduce new approaches to implement in your practice. Nurses can demonstrate commitment to their work by paying attention to the changing standards and actively working to expand their knowledge.

By investing in their education, nurses can improve their knowledge, which can empower them to make more effective decisions at work. Nurses also may join professional organizations in their specialties of interest to stay abreast with the latest updates.

Related: 10 Ways To Improve Knowledge Sharing in Your Business

9. Adhere to a high standard of ethics

Nurses maintain a high standard of ethics in their jobs. There are many regulations and laws that exist to protect the safety and dignity of patients and nurses in health care settings. Nurses can adhere to ethical guidelines to make sure they uphold these laws and meet their facility's expectations for care.

Besides meeting legal expectations, nurses can also uphold ethics by behaving with honesty and integrity in the workplace. They try to be fair when they discharge their duties and responsibilities, which include ensuring all patients receive the necessary care.

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