As a profession, nursing has come a long way. But how often do you stop to think about what being a professional means to you? December is a good time to take stock of your nursing achievements, especially if you're in a rut or feeling dissatisfied. Below, I outline some characteristics of professional nursing identified by Miller and associates in 1993, with my suggestions for launching your 2006 goals.
Do you have enough? If you aren't sure, you might take advantage of tuition reimbursement from your employer. Consider getting your feet wet by taking just one course before enrolling in a program.
Adherence to a code of ethics
The American Nurses Association's code of ethics and interpretive statement is a good starting point for investigating ethical concerns involving your practice area.
Participation in professional organizations
This is a great way to learn current guidelines and developments in care and to network with nurses who have similar interests. Ask colleagues about their experiences or attend an organization meeting to explore the benefits.
Even if you already participate in CE activities, consider new and different approaches. For example, if you usually read journal articles and take tests, consider new venues, such as nursing conferences.
To feel more competent in your practice, consider certification with its many opportunities for study and self-improvement.
Communication and publication
Connect with other professionals by joining a committee, giving a presentation, collaborating on institutional policies, or writing for a journal or an organization newsletter.
This means serving a population beyond the needs of individual patients. Could you make a bigger impact if you help set up a health fair and screening programs that target community needs?
If you don't know about nursing research and evidence to support how you care for patients, your methods might be outdated. A journal review group can open the door to evidence-based practice.
One nurse doing an annual professional review helps advance our profession. Assessing achievements and setting goals with colleagues takes it even further. As a single nurse adding something to improve the profession, you help the whole become greater than the sum of its parts.
Cheryl L. Mee, RN, BC, CMSRN, MSN
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing 2005