1. Section Editor(s): Thompson, Elizabeth M. MSN, RN, CNOR

Article Content

November 11 to 15, 2013 is Perioperative Nurse Week, a time to promote the perioperative nursing career choice, recognize our accomplishments as individuals, as a profession, and strive to improve public awareness of our roles. Although we have much to be proud of, there's work to be done. During this week of celebrating our profession, we can take the opportunity to ask ourselves tough questions. Most of us understand that belonging to a profession doesn't necessarily make us professionals. Are we promoting our profession by being professional, or are we only working as a means to afford new furniture or appliances?

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The professional

Merriam-Webster defines the word professional as relating to a job that requires special education, training, or skill; done or given by a person who works in a particular profession; or paid to participate in a sport or activity.1 Professionalism in the workplace usually refers to behavior as well. For example, my institution promotes five safe behaviors as a commitment to safety. They include paying attention to detail, communicating clearly, having an inquisitive and receptive attitude, effective handoffs, and support for each other. I believe that if we incorporate each of these behaviors into our practice, we will be role-modeling professional behavior.2


Unprofessional behavior is demonstrated when individuals undermine the behaviors of others. Examples of this include a lack of support or task assistance for colleagues, withholding information, or perhaps withholding resources.3


Reevaluating ourselves

I might suggest taking the time to reevaluate our own individual practice and purpose. What motivates us as individuals to work in surgery? What drives us to be perioperative nurses? What should that behavior look like in the work setting? Have your motivations changed during your career? And if so, how, and how do they change the way you perform patient care? Finally, how do we respond when we witness unprofessional behavior?


Perioperative Nurse Week is a time in which we can reflect on our practice and ask ourselves how we are doing in regards to promoting safe patient care. How well are we at working with others or within the team, promoting effective communication, providing a safe environment, and delivering service to our patients and our colleagues? We can all identify with nurses we know who exhibit professionalism. It's good to remember that professionalism isn't a label you give yourself, it's a description you hope others will apply to you.4


Elizabeth M. Thompson, MSN, RN, CNOR

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Editor-in-Chief Nursing Education Specialist Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. ORNURSE@WOLTERSKLUWER.COM




1. Merriam-Webster. Professional. 2013. [Context Link]


2. Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clink Commitment to Safety: Safe Behaviors. 2013. [Context Link]


3. Visser C. The progress-focused approach: doing what works. 2013. [Context Link]


4. Visser C. The progress-focused approach: 20 inspiring quotes. 2013. [Context Link]