Distinguish myself

You can distinguish yourself as a nurse by working on three nursing qualities — confidence, professionalism and teamwork. These are important nursing career pillars, that can assist you in your daily practice and enable you to be proud of your work. And when you feel good about your work, chances are you will be noticed and respected by peers and employers. Click on the following to learn more.

If you think you’ve got these professional qualities covered, the following pointers will also help you be recognized by your employers and set a good example for colleagues.

  • Try a little public relations. Make a point of raising your manager’s awareness of the projects you are working on. Also, casually mention compliments or thanks you’ve received from colleagues and clients. And take advantage of your next performance review — consider preparing a short report that outlines your accomplishments (above and beyond your normal job duties).
  • Engage in more prominent work activities. If you never speak up in meetings, start. Prepare in advance to contribute new ideas or in any area where you can provide valuable input. Practise ahead of time to help manage your nervousness.
  • Show initiative. Volunteer for work that requires more profile, such as giving a presentation or leading a meeting. Now is the time to pitch your idea for making a work process more efficient (and undertake the work yourself, if asked) or taking on a projects. Not only will you gain recognition for taking initiative and being a team player, you’ll enhance your skill set and have something terrific to add to your resume.

Nursing confidence

Confidence in nursing is certainly grounded in knowledge, but it is also fortified with experience.

If you are a new nurse, you are not alone if you are sensitive to the smallest learning curves. If you are an experienced nurse, you be reminded of those learning curves when you take on the role of preceptor to students or mentor to nurses (both roles will also increase your job satisfaction). Here are a few reminders about what it takes to build professional confidence.

Just do it. The running shoe brand Nike was on to something with this slogan. There’s only one way to get better at something, whether it is starting IVs, writing up a report, or educating a family about the effects of Alzheimer’s — repetition.

Take on new tasks. If you feel like you work in an encouraging environment, consider taking on a new assignment that pushes your comfort zone slightly. Nothing boosts confidence quite like accomplishing a task that challenges you.

Distinguish between nerves and confidence. Everyone gets nervous at times for different reasons. It’s important not to let those nerves get in the way of your self-confidence. Ask yourself what the source of your anxiety is… you’ll quickly realize it isn’t lack of skill.

Know your skills. Check out the tips in the Career Services section that help you identify a complete list of your skill strengths. Confidence comes from knowing what you are good at and what needs improvement.

Value your unique experiences. Maybe you have a unique educational background. Or maybe you made an error on the job once. We are the sum of all our experiences. Reflecting on them allows us to learn more about ourselves and others. The better you know yourself, the better nurse you will be.

Nursing professionalism

Professionalism brings tremendous value to the nursing profession. Maintaining professionalism on the job is also crucial to the success of your nursing career.

Taken as a whole, nursing actions that are grounded in evidence-based, ethical, dedicated and effective care reinforce the profession’s credibility and legitimacy. In other words, the entire profession is respected because individual nurses conduct themselves in a professional manner.

So what is nursing professionalism? There are different understandings of this concept, but in a nutshell, it means upholding standards of conduct and practice, as well as maintaining a positive approach and attitude including having compassion for clients and patients. The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario has developed a healthy work environment Best Practice Guideline “Professionalism in Nursing”. Learn more about how to apply the eight attributes identified as underlying nursing best practices. When you uphold these professional values, you will have the foundation for a successful career.

Eight attributes of professionalism in nursing.

  1. Knowledge — this includes having a body of knowledge that is theoretical, practical and clinical, but also the ability to apply the knowledge using an evidence-based rationale for practice, and using information or evidence from nursing and other disciplines to inform practice.
  2. Spirit of inquiry — this includes being open-minded, asking questions that lead to the generation of knowledge, striving to define patterns of responses from clients, and commitment to life-long learning.
  3. Accountability — this includes understanding the meaning of self-regulating; using legislation, standards of practice and a code of ethics; a commitment to work with clients and families; active engagement in the advancement of the quality of care; and recognizing personal capabilities, knowledge bases and areas for development.
  4. Autonomy — this includes working independently and exercising decision making within one’s scope of practice; recognizing relational autonomy; and being aware of autonomy barriers and seeking ways to remedy the situation.
  5. Advocacy — this includes understanding the client’s perspective; assist the client with their learning needs; being involved in professional practice initiatives and activities to enhance their health care; and being knowledgeable about policies that impact on delivery of health care.
  6. Innovation and visionary — this includes fostering a culture of innovation to enhance client outcomes; showing initiative for new ideas and being involved through taking action; and influencing the future of nursing, delivery of health care and the health care system.
  7. Collegiality and collaboration — this includes developing collaborative relationships in a professional context; acting as a mentor to nurses, nursing students and colleagues to enhance and support professional growth; and acknowledging and recognizing interdependence between care providers.
  8. Ethics and values — this includes knowledge about ethical values, concepts and decision-making; identifying ethical concerns; applying nursing ethics knowledge to make decisions; collecting and using information for ethical decision-making; collaborating with colleagues to develop and maintaining practice environment that supports nurses and respects their ethical and professional responsibilities; and engaging in critical thinking about ethical issues.

Nursing teamwork and collaboration

Nursing is about relationships — relationships with peers, other health-care providers, clients/patients/residents and their families. The quality of these relationships is vital to your nursing success, in terms of everyday interactions, positive client/patient outcomes, and your own job satisfaction.

Being a good team player is more important than ever given today’s changing care environment. The composition, context and structure of teams are changing (think about virtual teams that provide care using video and telecommunications technology). Meanwhile teams are increasingly crossing health-care sectors, including care providers from acute care, long-term care, community and home care and distances. Teams are more inter-professional than ever.

Be the best nursing team player you can be by reading and applying the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario’s Best Practice Guideline “Collaborative Practice Among Nursing Teams.”