The nursing profession is one of the oldest and most important professions in the world. There is no universally accepted, standard definition of nursing. Many professionals and organizations have their own definitions of nursing. Nursing can be defined as the practice of protecting and promoting health, preventing injuries and illnesses and aiding in the healing of the sick through diagnosis and treatment. Nursing practitioners have a great responsibility on their hands. They are required to be professional all the time. This is because the health of people and the lives of these people depend on the professionalism of nurses. To be professional at all times, the nurses must be in a state of constant professional evolution. Reflection on actions and experiences is crucial in facilitating professional development.
Professional development is a means by which nurses can improve and expand their knowledge and abilities throughout their careers. It involves constant review and reflection of their activities and experiences. Professional development ensures that nurses keep getting better as they progress in their careers.
Florence Nightingale in the 1800s said that nurses should never consider themselves complete. Rather, they must continue learning throughout their lives. This principle underlines the need and importance for nurses to be constantly learning and adapting more so in the complex healthcare system of today (Wilson, C. 2014, pp.56-57). Nursing professional development will play a major role in the future of nursing, and that is why it is imperative for every nurse.
Reflection and its role in professional development
Self-reflection is the means by which a person can have serious thought concerning their actions and their character. Reflection is the practice of thinking critically about ones actions and experiences with the goal of understanding them better, thereby developing their practice and improving clinical knowledge. For this practice of reflection to be effective, it must be a continuous cycle whereby experiences and the reflection on experiences are interrelated.
Reflection is an essential part of the nursing curriculum. Mentors of nurses can help them in their reflection of experiences and actions. Effective reflection requires the participants to be open-minded, willing and courageous enough to accept and act on criticism. The importance of reflection in the professional development of nurses can, therefore, never be over emphasized.
Rolfe Reflective Model
The choice of model to be used for this essay is the Rolfe reflective model that was developed by Rolfe et al. (2001). It is a reflective model based on three simple questions. These questions are: - What? So what? and Now what? This will highlight my progress over the last ten months and identify my areas of growth in a number of areas including communication, clinical work, practical skills and transferable and key skills.
At the beginning of the nursing associate course, I was made aware of the most important skills that I needed to learn. I have gained a lot of experience, and consequently, I have improved markedly. I have become more empathetic. Research has shown that empathy is the most important factor in helping relationships. (Kalisch, B. 1971, pp.202-210). Empathy provides the foundation for one person to help another. I have come to realize that empathy is something that patients want from nurses. Many healthcare practitioners would like to be detached emotionally so that they can reliably care for patients (Halpern, J. 2003, pp.670-674). Empathy in healthcare means that a professional acknowledges the emotional state of a patient even though they do not experience the emotional sate themselves. I have understood that it is impossible for nurses to be truly in the shoes of their patients. Empathy in the medical field is more intellectual than emotional.
Another very important skill that I have improved on is communication skills. Communication is a vital component in nursing practice. I have come to realize that Effective communication requires an understanding of the patient and the experiences they express. In the field of medicine, 70% of the mistakes arise due to poor communication. Nurses have the responsibility of direct care and therefore spend more time with the patients and all the other professionals. They, therefore, have to communicate well, not only with the patients but also with the rest of the team members.
Cognitive skills are crucial in the nursing profession. The cognitive skills required by nurses are critical thinking, critical reasoning and critical judgment (Benner et al., 2008, pp.103-118). Critical thinking is a skill that is emphasized in nursing. Critical thinking is the basis for professionals to make good decisions unilaterally. Critical thinkers are creative, open-minded and are always seeking for information. They also have high professional accountability, and their nursing care is of high quality (Scheffer & Rubenfeld, 2001, p.357). Critical reasoning requires background knowledge that is research-based. It requires the practical ability of a nurse to discern the evidence behind scientific knowledge and how it applies to particular patients. Critical judgment requires making decisions after having done critical reasoning across time about particular cases. These three cognitive skills, including critical thinking, critical reasoning, and critical judgment are very essential in the practice of nursing, and I have made great strides over the past year in improving these skills.
Nursing faculties have the obligation of teaching nursing associates to be aware and sensitive to cultural issues (Rew et al., 2001, p.250). I have become more sensitive to cultures and diversity. I understand that the cultural insensitivity and incompetence can present huge barriers to health care process and can lead to many uncomfortable situations. Nurses need to learn to work with people from diverse cultural backgrounds to develop cultural competence.
All these skills have enabled me to improve my professionalism as a nurse. I realize that my work is extremely important because it deals with the health of individuals and therefore highest professionalism is required (Adams & Miller, 2001, pp. 203-210). Nurses work with a team to provide care for the patients. I have also come to appreciate the importance of reflection in this field. Reflection has enabled me realize my strengths and weakness and that a truly professional nurse must be disciplined, respectful and of high integrity.
As I continue with the nursing course, I realize that I have to keep improving. Nurses must never stop learning; I must keep learning every day through experiences and reflecting on the experiences. For me to be successful in this, I have to be very committed to getting better and learning more.
Adams D. & Miller, B. 2001. Professionalism in nursing behaviors of nurse practitioners. Journal of Professional Nursing, 17 (4), pp.203-210
Halpern, J. 2003. What is clinical empathy? Journal of General International Medicine, 18 (8), pp.670-674
Kalisch, B. 1971. An experiment in the development of empathy in nursing students. Nursing Research, 20(3), pp.202-210.
Rew, L. et al. 2001. Measuring cultural awareness in nursing students. Journal of Nursing Education, 42 (6), pp.249-257
Scheffer, B. & Rubenfeld, G. 2001. A consensus statement on critical thinking in nursing. Journal of Nursing Education, 39 (8), pp.352-359
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