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Professional Roles & Values in Nursing

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RUP1 Project

Barbara Heaney

Western Governors University

        As many people may (or may not) realize, nurses perform numerous tasks in their profession.  Not only do nurses take care of patients, they are involved in the decision-making, educating, and emotional support of their patients.  How nurses behave and exhibit their learned ethics in their profession can influence and affect a patient’s (and their family’s) life.  Therefore, it is very important for nurses to be cognizant and aware of their professional ethics (per the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics) in their profession.

        Not only are ethics important in nursing, but nursing theories are as well.  Nursing theories have been reviewed and applied to nursing practice for over 150 years (dating back to Florence Nightingale).  Additionally, there are countless historical and significant nursing figures of the past that can help guide and direct the nurses of today and the nurses of the future.

  1. Functional Differences

There are numerous differences between a regulatory agency and a professional nursing organization (“PNO”).  Many nurses may not be aware of the functional differences between these organizations.  I will explain the purpose of each organization and the differences below.  In some ways, the two organizations support the same health care issues and advocate for the same needs of nurses and patients.

The Illinois Nurse Practice Act (“NPA”) is enacted by the Illinois legislature to guide and direct the scope of practice for all levels of nurses, which includes a licensed practice nurse (“LPN”), registered nurse (“RN”), and advanced practice nurse (“APN”).  The scope of practice for each of the mentioned nurses is limited and different.  This scope of practice is determined and governed by specific licensure and educational requirements applicable to each specific job title.  Patient care practices and procedures are limited to each specific nurse title.  If there is a change in the scope of nursing practice, that change will be revised in the NPA.  Therefore, it is imperative that nurses stay well-informed of their state NPA in which they practice, especially if they practice in more than one state ("225 ILCS 65/ Nurse Practice Act," 2007).

Additionally, the Illinois NPA also protects and safeguards patient’s safety, welfare and public health of the community.  This is done by ensuring and confirming that the licensure requirements and criteria for the professional and qualified practice of nurses are accurately evaluated, applied and implemented.  The practice of nursing in Illinois must earn and receive confidence of the public.  Hence, only licensed and qualified persons are authorized to practice nursing ("225 ILCS 65/ Nurse Practice Act," 2007).

Again, it is crucial for all licensed nurses to keep abreast of any developments and changes to their state NPA.  Keeping up-to-date on this information will assist nurses in providing safe patient care within their legal scope of practice.  Nurses can also rely and trust the resources of professional organizations to keep well-informed as the medical knowledge and scope of practice adjust to a changing world.

The Illinois Nurses Association (“INA” – a/k/a/ “The Nurses Union”) is an Illinois professional organization that participates in fighting for the rights of the nurses to inspire them to be the best and most effective advocates for both their patients and their community.  This is a political and legislative process, both at the local and state level.  Members of the INA rally at the Chicago City Council or meet at the state capitol prepared with awareness, knowledge and outlooks on several issues ("Illinois Nurses Association," 2013).

The purpose of the INA is to work for the improvement and enhancement of health standards and the accessibility of health care services for the citizens of Illinois.  The INA also promotes high values and standards for nurses, inspires professional advancement of nurses, and improves nurses’ economic welfare ("Illinois Nurses Association," 2013).

The goals of the INA are nurse-centered and include:

  1. Building a more influential and powerful voice for all nurses;
  2. Educating nurses, legislators, government representatives and the public about the importance of the INA;
  3. Creating nursing power through the maintenance and implementation of a democratic run organization, in which all of the nursing members contribute and participate in decisions; and
  4. Discussing and negotiating the optimum nursing wage contracts ("Illinois Nurses Association," 2013).

The INA works with the government to monitor and supervise intended legislation and regulatory trends, helps develop and improve public policy programs, and provides and monitors input from the members to regulatory agencies ("Illinois Nurses Association," 2013).

As the above-mentioned information states, there are functional differences between the Illinois Nurse Practice Act and the Illinois Nurses Association.  The NPA is more focused on the scope of practice for nurses and the safety of their patients.  The INA is more centered on the individual nurses and their well-being.  However, the INA helps the community have access to health care services which is not nurse-centered.  Both organizations want a safe working environment, both for their nurses and their patients. 

  1. Nursing Code Examples

Provision 1 of the ANA Code of Ethics states “the nurse practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and uniqueness of every individual, unrestricted by considerations of social or economic status, personal attributes, or the nature of health problems” ("Code of Ethics With Interpretive Statements," 2011).

My example of how this provision of the ANA Code of Ethics influenced my practice involved a young patient who had several diagnoses.  This man was very young (38), extremely sick and very poor.  He was a “frequent flyer” at the hospital always requiring pain meds for his chronic and debilitating pain.  To the other staff, this man was considered a very difficult patient.  To me, he was not.  This young patient was very sick and needed care - not only medicinal care, but holistic, psychological and personal care.   Unfortunately, he was noncompliant with his medications and diet.  Because of his noncompliance, the patient was admitted to the hospital repeatedly.  He was also verbally abusive to the staff.    This patient was assigned to me several times because I knew how to effectively provide care for him.  I explained to him what the plan would be for my shift; when his pain meds were due; any procedures he may have scheduled; and any other clarification needed.  All this patient really wanted and needed was dignity, respect and a personal touch to his care.  My personal touch was greeting him with a smile, giving him my full attention and actually listening to his fears about dying.  A smile and a hug go a long way!



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