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Professionalism: Taking Pride in Ourselves and Our Work

Student Name
Missouri Valley College
NU110 Introduction to Nursing
Tonya Eddy, PhDc, RN
November 13, 2009
Professionalism: Taking Pride in Ourselves and Our Work
Professionalism can be seen in any occupation, from blue collar to white collar
work. Anyone in any career can be a professional; a janitor who takes pride in his work
and does the job to the best of his ability, the mechanic who keeps abreast on
changes in the industry and is honest and diligent in his work, the teacher who
possesses patience and cares about the success of her students, and the doctor who
takes the time to listen to the needs of his patient and helps them live a happier
healthier life (source). Many attributes contribute to professionalism; it is much more
than putting on a dull suit and managing an agenda. The most essential element of

always site

professionalism is taking pride in ourselves and our work (source). When making
statements, need sources to support your statements. There are many aspects that
contribute to professionalism. Professionalism requires a positive attitude, giving you
the appearance of a professional and significantly increasing your chances of
success. Appearance is paramount when attempting to uphold a professional
standard. Not all jobs require a business wardrobe in the traditional sense, but
appearance is important; clean clothing that reflects the business in a professional
manner. Vocabulary is yet another component of professionalism. This doesnt mean
using large complicated words, but rather using the right words. Behavior is an integral
component of professionalism; behaving in a courteous way, maintaining integrity and
honesty will ensure fulfillment of the ultimate goal: earning your clients trust.
Taking pride in ourselves and taking pride in our work seemingly go together. If
one doesnt take pride in their self, they dont take pride in their work. The reverse
would be true as well. Even if by chance you took pride in your work without taking
pride in yourself, most would wonder: how will she take good care of me if she cant
take good care of herself? Most people form an opinion about another person when
they first meet and it usually relates to the others appearance. A well-dressed
appearance tends to convey a higher level of knowledge and a sincere interest in
advancement (LaSala & Nelson, 2005)
Many different areas of appearance can contribute to what someones first
impression of you may be. Clothing should be clean and wrinkle-free. Hair should be
neat in appearance and well groomed. Finger nails should be trimmed and clean
without any unnatural colored polishes, artificial nails are not appropriate due to their

potential for bacterial growth (Arnold and Boggs, 2004; Schuster, 2000). Jewelry
should be kept tasteful and at a minimum. Tattoos should be covered if possible and
visible piercings are discouraged. Shoes should be clean, polished and functional to
the work environment; women should stay away from heels or open toed shoes. Makeup worn by a woman should be subtle and complementary to their skin tone (LaSala &
Nelson, 2005, p. 64).
Being professional is reliably and consistently portraying the attributes of
professionalism. As nurses around the nation are becoming more concerned about
their occupation being viewed in more professional terms, first impressions are
becoming increasingly important. This goal is difficult for some to achieve and some
nurses have been perceived to be relatively unconcerned about first impressions
because their employers often have policies that dictate dress codes and behaviors
(Sullivan 2004). Many nurses feel that with the change of dress code from white
uniforms to scrubs, being seen as a professional becomes a challenge. This
transformation is problematic in the effort of differentiating LPNs from RNs or CNAs
from housekeeping. Some view the traditional white uniforms as a more professional
dress code than the present day scrubs that have been adopted by most health care
facilities. However many nurses welcome the more casual and more functional attire.
Scrubs can give nurses a unique opportunity to express their individualism within their
uniforms. Personality may have had little opportunity to emerge from the starch white
uniforms and pulled back hair donned in a white cap (Arnold & Boggs, 2004; Sullivan,
In Detroit, Michigan a study was conducted to conclude what kind of nonverbal

communication was portrayed by color and style of uniforms and how it affects
perceptions of professionalism. The problem to be addressed was that the current
multi-variant uniforms by care providers made it difficult to identify the registered nurse.
The purpose of this study was to determine if mean nurse image scale (MNIS) scores,
reflecting nurse professionalism, varied by nursing uniform color/style. The study
utilized 240 patients and visitors in waiting, nursing units, and ambulatory care areas.
The subjects were shown 6 photographs of the same nurse wearing different pant
uniforms. The survey utilized a Likert scale of 10 professional image traits: confidence,
competency, attentiveness, efficiency, approachability, caring, professionalism,
reliability, cooperativeness, and empathy. The results showed that regardless of
demographics, age, gender, and type of setting, a white fitted pant-set had a higher
median MNIS rating than other uniform styles and colors. In the age group of 45-69
years of age the white fitted and scrub pant sets had significantly higher MNIS scores
than three other uniforms. As baby boomers age and are becoming higher volume
consumers of health care, their perceptions of nurses and their level of
professionalism may affect the decisions of administrators. (Bednarski & Rosenberg,
2008). The conclusion may be drawn that white scrub and fitted-pant sets reflect a
greater perception of nurse professionalism than others. This perception of
professionalism surely stems from the deeply rooted image of traditional nurses
The traditional nurses uniform showed a heightened level of professionalism.
An extensive amount of effort went into the everyday care and preparation of wearing
the uniform well. White of course is not an easy color to keep stain-free, but somehow

these remarkable women managed. Its hard to say how much money one would have
invested in keeping it clean, pressed, and replacing them when they lost their luster.
This is why the white uniform conveys such a level of professionalism. When a client
sees how much effort you put in to the simple task of getting ready for the day, they are
more likely to feel that you are also capable of taking good care of them as well.
Although the white starch uniform may have portrayed a more professional
image of the nursing profession as a whole, there were many disadvantages to it as
well. The traditional uniforms were not very functional. The nursing field tends to get
messy and a white dress suit is not very conducive in that aspect. In addition, it may be
difficult to be as agile as the job may require. The caps as well had some sanitary
issues because they are not easy to clean or to keep pinned to the hair. With the
nurses uniform also came certain sexual connotations and stereotypes. Nurses are
often perceived as sexual objects. At Halloween costumes are sold titled sexy nurse.
This may be partly due to the nurses reputation as a nurturer and healer and the
connection that inevitably evolves when a nurse cares for their patient in their most
vulnerable state.
In a 2007 USA Today/ Gallup poll, nurses came in first as the profession with in
the medical field regarding public perception of honesty and ethics (Jones, 2007). This
is evidence that our community of clients, friends and neighbors hold us to a higher
standard than others. It is our duty to uphold the profession we have chosen and to
conduct ourselves in such a way that we maintain the respect nurses have worked so
hard to earn. Another study showed that professionalism within the field is closely
related to years of experience and higher educational degrees (Wynd, 2003).

Professionalism is something that may come more naturally to some than others, but it
is also a trait that can be learned. It is important that we conduct a self-assessment.
Once we know what our strengths and weaknesses are, we know the areas that we
need improvement on. Like it or not, healthcare is a business like any other and it is
essential to attract a growing patient population. Often the execution of anything
business related will not rely purely on knowledge or excellence but on the
relationships we build as a professional. Professionalism is an attribute that will aid in
anyones road to success.

Arnold, E., & Boggs, K. U. (2004). Interpersonal relationships: Professional
communication skills for nurses. St. Louis: Saunders.
Bednarski, D., & Rosenberg, P. (2008). Nurses Uniforms and Perceptions of
Professionalism. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 35(2).Need page numbers.
Jones, J. (2007). Lobbyists debut at bottom of honesty and ethics list. Retrieved
November 10, 2008, from
LaSala, K. B., & Nelson, J. (2005). What Contributes to Professionalism?. MEDSURG
Nursing, 14(1), 63-67.
Schuster, P. M. (2000). Communication: The key to therapeutic relationships.
Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Co..
Sullivan, E. J. (2004). Becoming influential: A guide for nurses. Upper Saddle River,
NJ: Pearson-Prentice Hall.
Wynd, C. A. (2003). Current factors contributing to professionalism in nursing. Journal
of Professional Nursing, 19, 251-261.