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What Values are Important to Nursing, and Why?

Professional and personal values drive the behavior of those who are in the nursing sector, day in and day out. If you are considering a nursing career, which values are important to have, and why do they matter so much?

About Nursing Values

Nursing is not without its emotions. The relationship between patient and nurse is a caring one, at least if it is to have the best patient outcome possible.

Learning how to care for another person properly is part of any DNP nursing leadership program, as well as being essential to other program curriculums in the nursing field. Teaching core values to nurses to provide the best care on the job isn’t easy but it is possible to model effective behaviors to students.

What are Core Nursing Values?

The word “values” refers to the beliefs behind behaviors that provide the base for the decisions you make, both personally and on the job. Thus, nursing values are the beliefs that guide those decisions made in the healthcare field.

The main nursing values are:

  • Integrity
  • Autonomy
  • Social Justice
  • Altruism
  • Human Dignity

The discussion below highlights how each one is important to the nursing profession. A person’s values affect those who work alongside them within the organization and their patients; thus, it is necessary to start teaching the necessary values to students in DNP nursing leadership or other curriculums.

Essentially, values show a human and spiritually-driven approach to the profession. Values guide relationships with patients and have the potential to provide a high standard of care.

Integrity

In nursing, integrity refers to upholding best practices to provide the best for patients. A nurse can act with both personal and professional integrity, although they may conflict in some situations.

For example, a nurse may decide not to get the flu vaccination for personal reasons, and that decision can prevent them from being able to do their job. While they have acted with personal integrity, have they shown integrity professionally by potentially endangering patients as they haven’t been vaccinated?

For a nurse to act in a way that respects the patient’s integrity, they must see the patient as a whole, including their environment, education, and caring, to help the patient overcome their health issue. Integrity has many facets, including having personal boundaries as a nurse and seeing the integrity of the patient.

Understanding the virtue of integrity in the nursing sector, whether as a frontline worker or in a management role, is integral, given how important their decisions are, from administering medications to making policy decisions. If they do not act morally, or in a way that they consider to be the right thing to do, then harm may come to patients and the organization overall. It’s important to note too that acting with integrity must always occur, even when no one is watching.

Autonomy

Professional autonomy is defined as having the authority to make decisions and act based on knowledge and experience without outside influence. In other words, nurses act according to professional and organizational rules, as well as by law, to provide the best treatment for patients.

When a nurse perceives that the organization, they work for is supportive of their actions and judgement, that can help them feel they are trusted by their managers and respected. In turn, they may feel more satisfied with their jobs than if they were micro-managed or had their decisions questioned at every turn.

Social Justice

Teaching ethical issues in the classroom, such as the DNP nursing leadership program can help students understand of them, as well as applying values within the work environment. Being able to make ethical decisions on the job is paramount to keeping the healthcare system at its best.

Within the supportive educational environment, teachers can prepare pupils for ethical dilemmas they might face in the future. Being able to problem solve now for when they are on the job later can provide them with the tools to do what’s right when they are in a pressure-filled room down the road. That process is imperative to preventing corruption within the health sector that can put patient care at risk and waste large sums of money.

Other Key Values: Altruism and Human Dignity

Having concern for another person’s well-being is important for healthcare providers to have so that they take the necessary steps to help patients. This value is called altruism.

This value is at risk, unfortunately, with today’s society being highly individualized. Nurses seeing their jobs as salaried professions may make them unwilling to take unconditional care of another person.

Thus, educators must try to instil caring attitudes in students to help create the strongest nursing sector possible for the future. Helping pupils see the positive impact they can have in others can perhaps strengthen altruistic feelings. For example, show them how a nurse leading a retreat on grief can help people move through their grief to experience happiness again.

Finally, human dignity is another core professional value. Understanding respect and creating trust with the patient are all part of providing a kind, considerate, and caring patient relationship. Patients deserve to be treated with human dignity, as do nurses; it is a mutual right.

More about Learning Core Nursing Values

In a DNP nursing leadership program or another educational program, students can learn about professional values through role playing or by seeing behaviors in action, such as in a hospital environment. Teachers are the role models for them as they hold clinical skills and responsibility, as well as encouraging students’ decision making and kindness within the workplace.

Values Matter

Having a set of key values is important for anyone in the nursing profession as it aligns their efforts and helps maintain a strong healthcare sector. Providing treatment based on shared values provides a workforce that is morally upstanding and does what is right for the patient at all times.

Throughout a nurse’s career, there will be situations that cause pause and require decisions that go against personal beliefs to uphold professional values. Working within this sector is challenging but also rewarding and maintaining nursing values can provide a positive future.

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