When selecting a profession, it was important to first determine if the values of the profession align with my personal values. It is crucial to first be able to articulate what values and beliefs that a person sees as being important before evaluating any professional values. I have always been drawn to the medical professions due to my love of science and my fascination with the human body. I took a somewhat circuitous route from my pre-medical education to applying to medical school and abruptly withdrawing my application due to fears of how my physical disability would limit me in the profession. I was drawn to nursing because it was still within the medical field, there was a greater opportunity for patient contact, a variety of disciplines I could specialize in, there was the potential for growth within the field and the professional values of nursing align with my personal values.
There are several values that I have identified as being important to the way I conduct my life. The first value is integrity which is defined as moral uprightness. I conduct myself with integrity and I believe that those who have interactions with me should do the same; if a person does not conduct themselves with integrity, it is unlikely that they will be in my life for long. The next value that I have identified as being important to me is persistence. Persistence is defined as obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty. I believe very strongly that in order to obtain excellence you must be persistent and it is truly something I have lived by through my battles with my physical disability. Justice, fair behavior or treatment, is the next personal values that I have identified. Prior to enrolling in nursing school, I served as a high school teacher for four years and I believed in treating my students as justly as possible, just as I will treat my patients in the future. The next personal value that is important to me is conviction which is defined as a strong persuasion. I hold my convictions on topics like ethics very strongly and, while I can value opinions from people that hold alternate views, it would take a substantial amount of evidence for me to change my convictions.
The last personal value that I believe to be important is that of dependability, that quality of being able to be counted on. I believe in being a person who is always there on time,always available for my friends and family and a person whose word is as good as gold. According to the National League of Nursing (NLN), the core values of nursing are caring, integrity, diversity and excellence. Nursing is a helping profession in which we must empathize and provide compassionate care for all patients as well as their families at times. Nurses must also display integrity as they must follow the ethical guidelines laid out in the American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics as well as their hospitals guidelines and policies. A large component of nursing is culturally competent care as we respect the diversity of our patients. In addition, there are initiatives to make the field of nursing more diverse as it is believed it will improve the quality of care if the nurse understand the patients culture, customs and religion on a deeper level.
The last core value the NLN identifies is excellence which I believe is essential to not only providing quality care to our patients but also to furthering the practice of nursing. Through evidence based practice and nurse’s constant drive towards excellence, practices have changed to improve nursing practice and patient outcome. One example, of this is research into catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI) has lead to the recommendation of decreasing the number of days a catheter is left in for and even restricting indwelling catheter placement to critical patients. I do believe that the value of altruism which is not addressed by the NLN core values is central to the nursing profession. I believe that as a nurse you must be selfless in your concern of others and truly love caring for others. Nursing is a hard job where you must work long shifts and experience some heartbreaking, traumatic events; I believe that sense of duty to your fellow man or altruism will be my driving force and protect me from burnout.
When comparing my personal values to the core values of the nursing profession, it is easy to see that there is some overlap. Integrity is an important value to myself and to the nursing profession as it is important to proceed with every action not only in accordance with your own moral principles but those laid out by the institution you work for as well. I believe very strongly that the 4 primary medical ethical principles of autonomy, justice, non-maleficence and beneficence should drive a nurses practice. There are many social and ethical issues that are hotly contested and it is important to not let your personal views cloud your judgment as well as distract from your primary purpose, the patient. My ethical approach to dilemmas tends to favor the Rights Approach which focuses on an individual’s right to choose an intervention, right to privacy and right to be free from unnecessary harm. However, if I were unsure of what to do or uncomfortable in a given situation, I would turn to the ANA Code of Ethics which provides their stance of a variety of issues ranging from abortion to end-of-life care or a bioethicist at my hospital. In addition, the professional core value of excellence correlates with my personal value of persistence. I believe that without persistence you will never be able to achieve excellence and that is what I constantly strive for. I don’t believe that anyone should strive to be “average” and if your family member were in the hospital, you wouldn’t want them to be taken care of by an “average” nurse, you would want them to be under the care of an excellent nurse. While we may not all be at the same level of intelligence or be as skillful with our hands, I believe it is persistence and a desire to learn, that bridges that gaps and yields excellent nurses.
The profession of nursing is one that is greatly respected due to its core values. Based on a recent Gallop poll, nurses are considered to be the most trusted profession by the general public and I believe much of this stem from the core values of integrity that is crucial to the nursing profession. That level of public trust is something that should not be taken for granted and something that every nurse should appreciate while fostering a therapeutic nursing relationship. While nursing was not my first choice of career, I am starting to define the type of nurse I would like to be. I am very passionate about heart health and believe that we need to focus more on prevention and screening of heart disease in this country. I would like to become a cardiac critical care nurse as I already possess a Masters degree in cardiac rehabilitation and eventually a cardiac nurse practitioner with a focus on interventional cardiology. In time, I would like to own a multidisciplinary practice with a few of my friends and also branch out into home care. My conviction is that people should be able to get dependable, quality healthcare in their home if they cannot travel to their providers rather than being forced into a nursing home. In addition, I am currently embarking on research into the perceptions of nursing students towards their physically disabled peers. I will persistently fight to further the rights and roles of disabled persons in the field of nursing. While I did take a circuitous route to get to the field of nursing I am satisfied with my choice and excited for what the future may hold.