Nursing is gaining recognition as a profession. Profession has been defined as an occupation that requires extensive education or a calling that requires special knowledge, skill, and preparation. A profession is generally distinguished from other kinds of occupations by: a. its requirement of prolonged, specialized training to acquire a body of knowledge pertinent to the role to be performed – specialized education is an important aspect of professional status.
In modern times, the trend in education for the professions has shifted toward programs in colleges and universities. Many nursing educators believe that the undergraduate nursing curriculum should include liberal arts education in addition to the biologic and social sciences and the nursing discipline. b. an orientation of the individual toward service, either to a community or to an organization – a service orientation differentiates nursing from an occupation pursued primarily for profit. Many consider altruism (selfless concern for others) the hallmark of a profession.
Nursing has a tradition of service to others. This service, however, must be guided by certain rules, policies, or codes of ethics. Today, nursing is also an important component of the health care delivery system. c. ongoing research – Increasing research in nursing is contributing to nursing practice. Nursing research has focused on practice-related issues, studies were often related to the nature if the knowledge base underlying nursing practice. d. code of ethics – Nurses have traditionally placed a high value on the worth and dignity of others.
The nursing profession requires integrity if its members; that is, a member is expected to do what is considered right regardless of the personal cost. Ethical codes change as the needs and values of society change. Nursing has developed its own codes of ethics and in most instances has set up means to monitor the professional behavior of its members. e. Autonomy – a profession is autonomous if it regulates itself and sets standards for its members. Providing autonomy is one of the purposes of a professional association.
If nursing is to have professional status, it must function autonomously in the formation of policy and in the control of its activity. To be autonomous, a professional group must be granted legal authority to define the scope of its practice, describe its particular functions and roles, and determine its goals and responsibilities in delivery of its services. To practitioners of nursing, autonomy means independence at work, responsibility, and accountability for one’s actions. Autonomy is more easily achieved and maintained from a position of authority.
Therefore, some nurses seek administrative positions rather than expanded clinical competence as a means to ensure their autonomy in the workplace. f. professional organization – Operation under the umbrella of a professional organization differentiates a profession from an occupation. Governance is the establishment and maintenance of social, political, and economic arrangements by which practitioners control their practice, their self-discipline, their working conditions, and their professional affairs. Nurses, therefore, need to work within their professional organizations.