My Personal View: What Nursing Means to Me

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My personal view of nursing practice has greatly developed throughout my life, with many factors contributing to it. In beginning the first steps of becoming a nurse myself, I’m sure that this view will change even more so – and through helping identify what nursing means to me now, I hope I can reflect back and see if, and how, my perception of it develops further. By evaluating what’s influenced what nursing means to me now, and how this relates to both regulatory bodies and organizational bodies, I hope to understand what exactly nursing practice means to me, and how this compares to other factors within the profession.

Having health professionals within my family and friend circle has always influenced my respect and interest in healthcare, but my interest in the nursing profession itself was sparked through personal experience as a healthcare consumer. A factor that made a notable impact on my own perception of nursing practice was having surgery myself, and realizing how the nurses who cared for me were the faces I pictured first when remembering my experience. When feeling vulnerable and alone the evening after surgery, my nurses provided me with the care and support that I didn’t realize I needed until I was experiencing it. Consuming media like television and reading news stories featuring nurses built the foundation of what I thought nursing was, but it wasn’t until I was in the position of receiving the product of their profession that I started to get a more realistic idea, and began to realize how much more was involved than just medication and acute care. However, the biggest contributor to developing this thought process was beginning the Bachelor of Nursing program, by opening my eyes to how big of an element social science plays in the profession, instead of being a majority of natural sciences as I’d previously perceived. It’s through these experiences that I’ve started to feel that nurses actually act as bridges between the public and the healthcare system, and from this, my understanding of nursing has changed to emphasize the importance of the relationship between the nurse and client as a vital role that rests so heavily on mutual trust and respect. A theory of nursing that resonates strongly with me because of this is that of Dr. Judith Christensen, a pioneer of nursing education in New Zealand, who emphasized how both a nurse and patient have experiences and histories that contribute to the healthcare relationship between them.

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My view of nursing practice also links to elements of the Nursing Council of New Zealand’s (NCNZ) Code of Conduct’s first principle – “Respecting the dignity and individuality of health consumers”. The NCNZ is a regulatory body responsible for the registration of New Zealand’s nurses, with the goal of ensuring their competency and therefore prioritizing and conserving the health and safety of the public by providing capable healthcare professionals. By developing my understanding of the important therapeutic relationships play in nursing practice, my interpretation of the code of conduct has changed. It’s through this that I better understand how its first principle goes beyond the surface-level interpretation of treating clients as individuals instead of parts of a mass, and how this means so much more than just preserving patients’ autonomy. This principle encompasses the depth of which personal situations and experiences shape each consumer’s health care journey, and I feel in doing so emphasizes how vital a strong relationship between nurse and client is, in order for this information to be shared. Disrespecting individuals’ dignity I feel is one of the surest ways to break this relationship, and ignoring a client as an individual disregards the possibility of learning how to provide the best care for them. Increasing information shared between a client and nurse is something I feel is vital in strengthening the relationship and hopefully deepening the understanding between the two people. This is a factor that wouldn’t be possible without acknowledging and respecting a health consumer’s individuality and therefore means to me that the code of conduct’s principle is vital in improving the overall healthcare provided by a nurse – which is what nursing to me is primarily about.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s (NZNO) code of ethics also relates to my view of nursing practice through the part that their underlying value of “Being professional” (New Zealand Nursing Organisation, 2010) plays – in both the relationship between nurses and individual health consumers and between nurses and the public as a whole. The NZNO is an organizational body that provides support and acts as a union for New Zealand nurses, representing and advocating for the nursing profession and its individuals. It does this in part through its created Code of Ethics, which is a resource of support and guidance for members of the nursing profession (New Zealand Nursing Organisation, 2010), and explains each of the underlying values on which the code is based. NZNO’s code of ethics’ value of being professional has many factors at hand – not only does seek to preserve the sanctity of the nursing profession by promoting competence in meeting the standards the code sets, but it also encourages nurses to advocate for the health needs of clients. This concept connects with my perception of the importance of the nurse and client relationship in nursing practice because the needs of clients are not only perceived through vital signs and physical assessments but also through the information sharing and conversations that develop as a result of a therapeutic relationship’s collaborative element. The significance I feel this has in nursing practice acts to strengthen the foundations of health for society as a whole, as the more we’re able to learn, the better we’re able to care – which is what I personally feel is nursing’s ultimate goal.

My perception of what nursing means to me personally has not often been something I’ve acknowledged consciously, but reflecting now on my views of it has allowed me to understand the ways that it’s changed over time. Nursing practice is a concept that spans the many roles nurses play in society, the responsibilities they have, and the depths of education required. By giving consideration to what’s formed my opinions on the profession, the organizations that represent it, and the values that the nurses hold the most highly, I’ve now begun to understand what I personally value most in nursing practice: the relationship between health consumer and nurse, two individuals with one common goal.

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