What is meant by the term "Professional"

  1. Having read through the thread on "Spelling - It Matters" I am amazed at how many replies equated good spelling and good grammar with professionalism.

    All too often in our field the term "professional" has been used as a synonym for "pseudo intellectual". It has been used to justify restrictive uniform codes, speech patterns and behaviours. In many ways it is probably the most misused term within our "profession". In my mothers day it was used to drive any married nurse from a career in nursing.

    I think it is time to re-open the debate. Without becoming heated, without deriding each other or professing to a standard impossible to humanly achieve let us look at the term "professional" and decide what WE would like it to mean.
  2. Visit gwenith profile page

    About gwenith

    Joined: Jul '02; Posts: 10,261; Likes: 233
    icu nurse


  3. by   jemb
    I was actually thinking about this a couple of days ago as I was driving. All the professions that I thought of have one thing in common. ( You can probably think of more commonalities)

    What stands out for me is that a profession doesn't get left at the job. ( I am a nurse. I am a nurse 24 hours a day, every day. It is not something that I can take off with my scrubs, and set aside until I go back to work. )

    It is not "just a job" that one happens into, and will keep doing until something better comes along.
  4. by   karbyr
    I think our nursing professionalism comes from our approach. Staying up on latest technologies. Using all the sciences to muster up interventions for whatever the situation, be it explaining a procedure to a client, consoling or reassuring family members, etc. We practice pieces of medicine, psychology, sociology, social work, etc. and we do it at a dead run.......constantly adapting and thinking on our feet. I also believe that professionalism is putting aside our petty grievances with one another,(including original approaches to spelling) and standing together to demand attention to our causes.
  5. by   5150dx
    Oooohhh... this one was on my mind just this morning! I am a student in Excelsior's A.D.N. program and have enjoyed supplementing with material from all aspects of nursing. While reading a C.E. offering at nursingworld (ANA's site), I found that they consider Registered Nurses with an Associates Degree to be "Technical Nurses" and consider Baccalaureate Degree nurses to be "Professional". It left me seething. I fully intend to be a "Professional" nurse.


  6. by   kitty=^..^=cat
    It isn't just the ANA -- In many business arenas, the term "professional" indicates that an individual has completed at least a 4-year college degree. Anything less than that is considered "para-professional" or "technical".
  7. by   Gator,SN
    I am finishing up my degree in nursing and this is what I was taught...
    Nursing is profession because it requires education and training and specialized skill. It requires the person to be accountable and licensed. It requires automony and being responsible for making decisons and it has its own code of ethics (due in part to being service oriented and dealing with the health and welfare and outcome of individuals.) It is self-governing and organizations (ANA, NLN) attach practice guidelines and disciplinary action (if necessary) to this practice. Nursing has many roles and settings and exists to aid the public on the healthcare continuum. A set of legal principles for nurses exists: statutory, common, civil and criminal laws.
    TORTS, negligence, malpractice and liability are all legal aspects of the profession and can cause the nurse to be disciplined or lose her licensure if she is found to practicing in a manner that is less than any other reasonable or prudent nurse.

    I believe that a nurse should look clean and presentable and take pride in his/her appearance but how they choose to express this is unique to the individual and should be respected.

    I don't care that they can't spell as much as I'd care if they treated me poorly. As far as speech, each person is unique and expresses themselves in a combination of what they know and how comfortable they are with it. It takes all kinds of patients to fill a hospital, so I would say that it takes all kinds of nurses to staff it as well.
    Sounds like professionals to me......4 year/2 year--whatever!
    Just another jab at nurses as far as I'm concerned!

    Last edit by Gator,SN on Apr 29, '03
  8. by   Gomer
    Originally posted by kitty=^..^=cat
    It isn't just the ANA -- In many business arenas, the term "professional" indicates that an individual has completed at least a 4-year college degree. Anything less than that is considered "para-professional" or "technical".
    Don't blame it on the ANA. I believe the Dept. of Labor set those standards.
  9. by   live4today
    I say "ditto" to what Gator, SN shared with us! :kiss
  10. by   betts
    A topic that I had to research. Very interesting reading, but has given me a headache; Thanks gwenith!...lol

    What is a Professional?
    Questions about what makes a profession and what makes someone professional have been prevalent in the literature over many years. Although the terms have common usage, they also have quite specific definitions built around the observed characteristics of the more established and powerful professions such as law and medicine. According to Warren Piper (1994), the "quintessential" profession is commonly described as: a full-time occupation distinguishable from being an amateur activity; requiring the completion of some form of higher education; associated with the mastery of a definable body of knowledge; and having a responsibility to the client. Furthermore, professions are associated with a form of control, which is not externally imposed but rather is managed through their own professional bodies, which oversee a range of procedures including registration, accreditation, sanctions and codes of ethics.
    The issue of professional learning - the need for professionals to continue learning as they practice and advance in their careers. In spite of difficulties in defining a profession, the notion of professional learning is a readily acceptable characteristic of a profession. Because the work of professionals relies on a very complex, ever-changing knowledge base and because professionals are continually confronted with new cases and problems, professionals need to engage in a process of on-going learning (Eraut 1994, p. 10). In many professions, the need for such learning is recognized to the extent that it is formalized and a requirement of continuing registration or accreditation by the professional body. Such professions require the completion of specific continuing professional education (CEU) for the renewal of registration to practice in the profession or to remain a member of the professional body. Whether or not continuing professional education is a formal requirement, it is difficult to imagine a profession, which is not characterized by the need for on-going professional learning.
    Altbach, P. (1995) Problems and Possibilities: the US Academic Profession. Studies in Higher Education, 20 (1), 27 - 44.
    Becher, T. (1996) The Learning Professions. Studies in Higher Education,
    Boud, D. (1993) Experience as the Base for Learning. Higher Education Research and Development, 12 (1), 33 - 44.
    Eraut, M. (1994) Developing Professional Knowledge and Competence London: Falmer Press.
    Etzioni, A. (Ed) (1969) The Semi-Professions and their Organization New York: Free Press.
  11. by   gwenith
    Wow! Impressive post! Thankyou Betts! My intent when I posted was to elicit a post such as yours but I did not expect such a high level academic response.

    My real reason in posting was to point out that the term professional is often used as a "bat" to beat people over the head with standards of behaviour and /or academic achievement which really have nothing to do with the term itself.

    Throughout my career I encountered examples of this misuse of the term. The informal use of the term to set standards within nursing is built on a habit so common as to be entrenched in custom. Because it is an informal use of the term it can and is misused to set standards that may be either parochial or idiosynchratic.

    Before the next bandwagon rolls by touting a standard for "professionalism" please consider who and what is driving.
  12. by   ChainedChaosRN
    Main Entry: [1]pro-fes-sion-al
    Pronunciation: pr&-'fesh-n&l, -'fe-sh&-n&l
    Function: adjective
    Date: circa 1748
    1 a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession b : engaged in one of the learned professions c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace
    2 a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs <a professional golfer> b : having a particular profession as a permanent career <a professional soldier> c : engaged in by persons receiving financial return <professional football>
    3 : following a line of conduct as though it were a profession <a professional patriot>
    - pro-fes-sion-al-ly adverb

    Pronunciation Key

    2001 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated
    Merriam-Webster Privacy Policy

    I was interested in what the dictionary said...thought I would share.
  13. by   NRSKarenRN
    Professionalism in Nursing: The Struggle to Attain Professional Status
    Could not have stated this better myself.

    From NSNA viewpoint:Professionalism and Activism: One and the Same

    Professionalism Course at Northern Arizona University:
    Characteristics of a Profession (list):

    Nursing as a Profession
    Is Nursing a Profession? Absolutely!
    Great outline---agree with Laura 100%


    Operating Roon Nurses Assoc- Professionalism

    Standards for Nursing Practice - Registered Nurses Association of British Columbia, Canada
    Includes 6 standards:
    Standard 1: Responsibility And Accountability
    Standard 2: Specialized Body of Knowledge
    Standard 3: Competent Application of Knowledge
    Standard 4: Code of Ethics
    Standard 5: Provision of Service to the Public
    Standard 6: Self-Regulation

    Saudia Arabia: King Faisal Hospital


    Slide Show: Professionalism & History
  14. by   elam_yag
    There is alot of controversy here right now as to whether Nursing is really a "profession" or more of a trade. Any thoughts?