All professions have as their cornerstone and creed a code of ethics and or professional performance standards. The nursing profession is no different. As the field of nursing grows and changes in defining the role of a nurse, the central theme will always be that of caring. It can be said that, all other duties and responsibilities of nurses have centered around, “caring”. Caring has been described by many nursing theorist as the innate nature of a human being to be able to give unconditional help in the form of doing for, therapeutic communication, therapeutic touch, compassion, a gentleness of spirit and humbleness of knowing ones self.
Jean Watson, a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Counseling developed a theory of caring first published in 1979. She believed that caring was central to the profession of nursing as well as being the unifying principle of practice. The two major assumptions that she made are as follows:
1. Care and love constitute the primal and universal psychic energy.
2. Care and love are requisite for our survival and the nourishment of humanity.
Madeleine Leininger, a nurse and anthropologist proposed a theory of caring based on culture. She was able to see that how one society defines caring is not always the same as another society. For instance, in Asia, looking directly into another’s eyes is not a sign of respect but a sign of disrespect. Therefore a western nurse unaware of the Asian culture of caring would be seen as an uncaring and disrespectful person. Leininger termed this knowledge of cultural caring as, “transcultural nursing”.
“Her beliefs are that culture is the broadest and the most holistic way to conceptualize, understand, and be effective with people.” (1)
With the emergence of the, “caring”, theorists also came the emergence of “Standards of Profession Performance”. The two terms are entwined in their definitions. There cannot be one without the other. The American Nursing Association set forth the following requisites for standards of professional performance. It is within these standards that can be seen the unifying theme of caring.
Standard 1. Quality of Care.
The nurse systematically evaluates and effectiveness of nursing practice. The nurse does this by participating in peer review committees and in consistently evaluating his/her own performance and how her performance has enhanced the clients health and emotional wellness.
Standard II. Performance Appraisal
The nurse evaluates his/her own nursing practice in relation to the national and state statues set forth defining the role of nurse.
Standard III. Education
The nurse acquires and maintains current knowledge in nursing practice. Many states now require continuing educational credits to be earned by a nurse. The number of credits vary from state to state. However, a nurse cannot renew their license without proof of these continuing educational credits. These credits help to keep the nurse current with new medica/nursingl advancements related to patient care.
Standard IV. Collegiality
The nurse interacts with and contributes to the nursing profession by meeting with other professionals in the medical field, such as Physicians, Physical Therapist, Respiratory Therapists, and Home Care Coordinators, to exchange ideas and gain a mutual respect while stimulating a leaning environment that all will benefit.
Standard V. Ethics
The nurse’s decisions and actions in helping and caring for individuals are based on principles of ethics and institutional guidelines.
Standard VI. Collaboration
The nurse collaborates with other medical professionals in creating an environment for the clients that facilitate an increasing continuum of mental and physical wellness.
Standard VII. Research
The nurse will not cease to expand his/her educational horizons, and continue to seek out and explore new areas of research and statistics.
Standard VIII. Resource Utilization
The nurse will participate in committees within the organization to evaluate and increase the effectiveness of safety, costs in planning and delivering patient care.
It can be seen that within the guidelines of professional performance the center theme is the caring for the client from every aspect. It is within these guidelines that the nurse can better define his/her role as a the one individual who has the ability to enhance the clients mental and physical wellness by coordinating, educating, and working with others to promote a caring and supportive environment.