The Attributes of Being a Health Professional Essay Example

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The Attributes of Being a Health Professional


Health care professionals are on the front line in the delivery of quality care to patients across the world. Being a health professional in the global environment in itself comes with a lot of demands. Registered Nurses (RN’s), on their part play a very vital role in delivering health care services to patients as they are involved in almost all activities across the continuum of care (Kathryn 2011, p. 5). Every day and every place in the world, nurses impact on the lives of people by making sure that they provide good and quality health care. It is thus the responsibility of the individual RN’s to carry out their duties in such a manner that reflects professionalism and accountability (Sivamalai 2008, p. 2).

The purpose of this essay is to examine and discuss three professional attributes that are important for all registered nurses. In this sense, the paper gives a critical discourse on the requirement of a nurse to maintain up to date knowledge for practice. The paper also outlines the importance of cultural competence for registered nurses and gives reasons why a registered nurse should have the ability to demonstrate sensitivity towards the cultural identity of the patients. In addition the essay also discusses why it is important for a nurse to use a range of effective communication skills in order to establish a therapeutic relationship as regards the elderly patients.

The Attributes of a Registered Nurse

As stated earlier, this paper will focus on three important attributes of an RN. These include the ability of the nurse to be updated with current knowledge, the ability of the nurse to demonstrate cultural sensitivity towards the clients and the importance of a nurse to use effective communication skills in order to establish a good therapeutic relationship with the patients. The essay is centred on the elderly patients as well.

First and foremost, it is very important for a registered nurse to maintain an up to date knowledge for practice. In this manner, the nurse must be able to apply what is usually referred to as knowledge based practice. Knowledge based practice requires a registered nurse to have the ability to consistently apply knowledge and new skills in the nursing practice. According to the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (CRNBC) (2012) a nurse must be knowledgeable enough so that they can be able to use to use and apply current evidence in the delivery of health care.

Moreover, being updated with current knowledge will help the nurse to provide safe and competent patient care since they will know where to access current information and in the same manner apply it in their practice (CRNBC 2012). For instance, the nurse will be able to collect and interpret data from different sources and thereafter implement it fully in nursing practice. He/she will collect information regarding the status of the client from different diverse sources and use various assessment skills such as observation, and medical analysis to make correct judgements about the patient’s needs (Varcarolis 2008, p. 155).

Maintaining knowledge based practice is also important for the RN’s since it helps them in using relevant and valid information when assessing patient’s situations and when making decisions about the care they should deliver to a particular patient. This information can easily be verified or corrected (CRNBC 2012). This way, the quality health care that the patients receive is not compromised. The nurse is in a position to easily implement care plans for the patients and revise them in the appropriate manner whenever necessary (CRNBC 2012). Moreover, sharing this knowledge with other nurse colleagues and the patients as well will also impact positively on the delivery of health care because it brings ideas together on the best care to give to the patients (Jeffreys and Dogan 2010).

Competency in knowledge based practice also involves conducting research and participating in research activities that will help in refining one’s knowledge in nursing practice. In this manner, the nurse is able to gain more support knowledge for the delivery of safe and quality patient care (CRNBC 2012). Research definitely adds on valid and reliable information which the nurse can heavily rely on in providing care and treatment to the patients. This keeps the nurse updated with both qualitative and quantitative data necessary in the nursing practice (CRNBC 2012).

Central and core to nursing competency is also what is known as cultural competency of a nurse. Cultural competency is an attribute that requires the nurse to demonstrate high levels of sensitivity to the cultural identity of the patients (Jeffreys 2008). It is a core requirement of the nursing profession that all RN’s must be culturally competence. This means that nursing care must incorporate the cultural values of the patient including their beliefs, traditions as well as their lifestyle practices (Jeffreys 2008, p. 37). Most importantly, it is the role of the nurse to ensure that the same is done.

According to Jeffreys (2008), good quality health care can only be realized if it occurs within the cultural context of the patient. The elderly patients, in particular are usually very fond of their culture. It is good for the nurse to create an enabling environment that allows for the appreciation of the patient’s culture and one that will embrace the different cultural diversities of the patients (Wilkinson 2013, p. 35). It includes skills and knowledge for sufficiently caring for different patients from different languages and cultures (Kathryn 2011). The nurse must be able to demonstrate consciousness in recognizing and appreciating the fact that different patients come from different cultural groups and therefore have different cultural backgrounds (Jeffreys 2008).

In this case, the nurse must be able to carry out professional cultural assessment of each patient with a core purpose of maximizing on the health outcomes of the patients (Jeffreys 2008, p. 37). Different patients come from different backgrounds with diverse cultures. The varying elements of these cultures may exist on the basis of birth place, the migration history of the patient, their race, religion and ethnicity, the language that they speak their kinship ties and even educational background, just but to mention a few.

It is cultural competence that demands diversity awareness among registered nurses. It is a crucial aspect of professionalism in nursing since ignoring the cultural diversity of patients may lead to very adverse outcomes for the patients (Jeffreys 2008) hence jeopardizing the safety of the patient. Therefore, nurses must always do their best to avoid exhibiting culturally incompetent and negligent behaviours (Kathryn 2011). Such behaviours may also lead to cultural pain, which refers to psychological and emotional stress that will occur from the actions of the nurse that are not consistent with the cultural identity of the patient (Jeffreys 2008, p. 38).

Demonstrating sensitivity to the cultural identity of the nurse is therefore very important. The nurse must do a proper cultural assessment of the patient in order to avoid potentially fatal situations from arising (Jeffreys 2008). For instance, if the patient uses herbal foods at home, it would be negligent on the part of the nurse to administer artificial drugs without inquiring which would later lead to drug toxicity. Nurses are thus continually challenged to learn and develop nursing professionalism in the context of the cultural norms and the cultural identity of the patients (Jeffreys 2008, p. 39). This is what explains the need for cultural competence as a core professional attribute on the part of the registered nurses.

The elderly patients in particular, tend to be more attached to their cultures more than any other group of patients. It will therefore be necessary for all registered nurses in charge of the elderly patients to demonstrate a high level of cultural competence. The nurse must assess their background, history and other cultural aspects of their lives which are core to the delivery of nursing care (Kathryn 2011). The elderly patients want their cultural beliefs and values respected. Neglecting such might therefore compromise the quality of care that is delivered to them. In a nutshell, the provision of culturally competent care in nursing is a very important professional attribute for all registered nurses (Kathryn 2011).

The third and last important professional attribute for registered nurses that this paper will discuss is the ability to use effective communication techniques and how this attribute will assist the nurse to establish and maintain a therapeutic relationship especially with the elderly patients. According to Jeffreys and Dogan (2010), a therapeutic relationship between a patient and the nurse is that type of relationship that is based on intimacy, mutual trust and respect for one another. It is a caring relationship that connects the patient with the nurse through a well-built relationship (Jeffreys and Dogan 2010).

Therapeutic relationships between the nurse and the patients are grounded on the gradual personal process that slowly develops between the client and the nurse (Wilkinson 2013). According to the College of Nurses of Ontario (2010) the nurse focuses on building a healthy relationship with their patient that is aimed at achieving the best interests of the patient and providing optimum nursing care for the best health outcomes of the patients. Notably, such a healthy relationship cannot be established without effective communication techniques.

Effective communication skills and technique are very essential factors in the establishment and maintenance of a good working relationship between the nurse and the patient (College of Nurses of Ontario 2010). Such communication techniques include the following strategies. First and foremost, the nurse must always introduce themselves appropriately to the client by their name and title (Jeffreys and Dogan 2010). A handshake during the first greeting has been suggested to be a very effective way of winning the trust of the patient. This will help the patient feel at ease whenever they are addressing the nurse.

Secondly, listening is also a very important aspect of effective communication. Any RN must be a very good listener (Jeffreys and Dogan 2010). This means having the ability to listen to the client and making sure that their concerns and needs are properly understood. Quality person-to-person communications entails that the nurse must listen to and fully understand the concerns of the patients, their needs, values and cultural beliefs (College of Nurses of Ontario 2010). Then, one must integrate these elements into the nursing care plan of the patient. The nurse must also be able to listen to the concerns and the wishes of family members that are central to the health of the patient.

Moreover, good communication skills entail giving the client adequate time to explain their needs and also time to ask questions (Wilkinson 2013). The nurse must have the ability to show a genuine interest in what the client is trying to express, and thereafter purpose to act on their requests and needs (Jeffreys and Dogan 2010, p. 138). In effective communication, the nurse must also be in a position to explore any unusual attitudes and comments from the patient and be able to interpret them effectively in order to get the underlying meaning (Wilkinson 2013, p. 36). Under no any circumstances should the patient’s statements be ignored no matter how vague and unambiguous they could be. This way, nurses will quickly gain the trust and respect of their patients and create a good rapport through mutual understanding.


The essay herein has examined and discussed three professional attributes that are important for all registered nurses. It has given a critical discourse on the requirement of a nurse to maintain up to date knowledge for practice, the importance of cultural competence for registered nurses why it is required for nurses to use a range of effective communication skills in order to establish a therapeutic relationship as regards the elderly patients. All the above attributes are very important for any RN because they are part of the very important elements that define professionalism in nursing care. Moreover, they also help in establishing and maintaining a therapeutic relationship with the patients which is at the core of optimal nursing care and quality health care.

List of References

College of Nurses of Ontario. 2010, Therapeutic Nurse Client Relationship: Practice Standard. pp. 1-22.

College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (CRNBC). 2012, Professional Standards for Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners

Jeffreys, M. R. 2008, Dynamics of Diversity: Becoming Better Nurses through Diversity Awareness. Imprint. 55(5), pp. 36-41.

Jeffreys, M.R., & Dogan, E. 2010, Factor Analysis of the Transcultural Self-Efficacy Tool (TSET). Journal of Nursing Measurement, 18 (2), pp. 120-139.

Kathryn, M. 2010, The Importance of Cultural Competence. Nursing Made Incredibly Easy! Vol 9, no. 2. p. 5.

Sivamalai, S. 2008, Desired Attributes Of New Graduate Nurses As Identified By The Rural Community: Rural And Remote Health. The International Electronic Journal of Rural and Remote Health Research, Education, Practice and Policy. Vol 8. Pp. 2-14.

Varcarolis, E.M. 2006, Developing Therapeutic Relationships. International Journal of Mental Health and Nursing. Vol 4. no. 1 pp. 155-170. (Chapter 10).

Wilkinson, C. A. 2013, Competency Assessment Tools for Registered Nurses: An Integrative Review.
The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing. 44, pp. 31-37.