Accountability and professionalism are important aspects in healthcare due to the nature of this profession as it impacts the health and lives of individuals across the globe. The nursing profession has been highlighted as the most trusted profession after an analysis of patient experiences regarding healthcare encounters (Miles, Conway, & Pawlson, 2013). The American Nursing Association Code of Ethics defines how nurses should be accountable to oneself and others. Unaccountability and unprofessional behaviors in this sector may lead to medical errors and negligence negatively affecting patient outcomes (Miles, Conway, & Pawlson, 2013). Nurses should be accountable for their actions due to the impact of these actions and decisions to other members of the healthcare facility as well as the community. The nursing training entails discussions relating to accountability and professionalism to prepare students on these two important aspects (Miles, Conway, & Pawlson, 2013). This is because accountability and professionalism are fundamental issues for students pursuing the nursing course.
Accountability and Professionalism in Nursing Practice
Accountability involves being responsible for one’s actions while professionalism entails incorporating nursing values that have been determined as important in enhancing the quality of patient care by guiding nurses in their daily activities (Krautscheid, 2014). Nurses should be able to explain and justify their actions based on their professional knowledge. Nurses form the largest percentage of the healthcare workers which means that they are extensively important in the delivery of healthcare services to patients (Krautscheid, 2014). They may also be faced with difficult healthcare scenarios requiring complex decisions. Accountability and professionalism can be demonstrated by making decisions that are based on evidence-based research and in consideration of the patient’s interests. Nurses should also apply ethical principles in addressing different situations in healthcare (Krautscheid, 2014). Nurses are accountable to patients, their families, other workmates, their employer, licensing board, and other governing organizations that emphasize the importance of being accountable to all these parties.
A nurse holds the balance of a patient’s life in his/her hands which means that a failure in his/her professional responsibilities may lead to a negative effect on all parties involved (Miles, Conway, & Pawlson, 2013). This has led to legal action being taken against nurses who participate in unprofessional behaviors. Due to the impact that may be caused due to unprofessional behavior in the healthcare sector, a professional body has been established to ensure that nurses adhere to the developed code of conduct (Krautscheid, 2014). Accountability starts at training where earning takes place under the supervision of a registered nurse or other healthcare professionals. This is done until the student develops confidence and the required competence where the nurses are delegated with new responsibilities. If the nurses accept the new responsibilities, they become accountable to their actions and decisions related to the performance of those tasks. Students are accountable to their supervisors, the university, and the law (Krautscheid, 2014).
Accountability is measured during the nursing training through different avenues that include timely handing of class assignments, participation in class projects, and attendance during clinical training (Miles, Conway, & Pawlson, 2013). This prepares the nursing students for future expectations in performing their responsibilities. Some of the activities and services provided by nurses require the participation of second nurses in order to verify medications or medical processes minimizing the chance of committing medical errors that may negatively affect patient outcomes (Miles, Conway, & Pawlson, 2013). A registered nurse should not deliver all the required care to patients alone as some services are delegated to other individuals. This requires the nurses to be accountable in their roles since ignoring these responsibilities may lead to negative outcomes. For nurses to be accountable it is important to have the freedom and authority to make professional judgments based on their competence (Miles, Conway, & Pawlson, 2013).
Importance of Accountability and Professionalism
Accountability and professionalism are important in enhancing work relationships in healthcare facilities. By nurses demonstrating professionalism in their practice, this leads to a procedural delivery of healthcare services (Davis, 2017). Since the performance of healthcare facilities is a result of teamwork where different healthcare practitioners collaborate in making effective decisions and improving healthcare delivery, if an individual is not accountable for his/her actions it may lead to a blame game and failure of the whole team (Davis, 2017). Due to the increasing healthcare needs that are attributed to chronic illnesses and complex healthcare process, nurses are professionally accountable for expanding their knowledge. This is important in enhancing their knowledge that will in turn enhance their performance and patient outcomes (Davis, 2017). Accountability and professionalism has enabled nurses to continuously incorporate evidence-based research in their practice to enhance their competency to address complex healthcare situations.
Since nurses care for patients at their most vulnerable moments in their lives, this requires accountability and professionalism which will enhance patients’ confidence that the care they are receiving is of a high quality (Davis, 2017). Any display of unprofessionalism in the delivery of healthcare may cause additional anxieties for patients when accessing healthcare services negatively affecting trust between patients and nurses. Demonstrating professionalism in the nursing profession ensures public trust safeguarding the reputation of the nursing profession (Batool, Khattak, & Saleem, 2016). Professionalism also helps in safeguarding the well-being of patients who rely on nurses to improve their health. An example can involve a nurse who treats patients respectfully that may encourage them to make more effective personal health decisions. This also improves patient safety as nurses are able to advocate for patient’s needs (Batool, Khattak, & Saleem, 2016).
Respecting other staff members and maintaining healthy relationships can lead to improved delivery of healthcare resulting in increased positive patient outcomes. This also minimizes the risk of medical errors that may affect the achievement of organizational goals (Batool, Khattak, & Saleem, 2016). Accountability and professionalism encourages a culture of respect and integrity enhancing interdisciplinary collaboration. This may also minimize the risks associated with work conflicts that may lead to strained relationships (Batool, Khattak, & Saleem, 2016). Accountability and professionalism also enhances collaboration in the organization by improving organizational networks where members are able to link and interact with one another. This has been indicated to enhance nurse’s knowledge and professional expertise since nurses are able to share their experiences and skills regarding healthcare matters (Batool, Khattak, & Saleem, 2016). Enhanced collaboration in the healthcare has been linked to improved delivery of healthcare and patient outcomes enhancing the reputation of the healthcare organizations.
Promoting Accountability and Professionalism
Healthcare leaders can enhance professionalism in healthcare facilities by creating professional environments where nurses are able to develop their skills as well as enhance their experience in the nursing profession (Renae & Victoria, 2014). The leaders can also develop training and development programs to give the nurses an opportunity to increase their knowledge as and performance in providing patient care. Universities and training institutions are required to ensure that students are able to demonstrate accountability and professionalism throughout their training where the university is responsible for monitoring the students (Renae & Victoria, 2014). The university certifies that a nurse is sufficiently prepared to practice without supervision. In the current times, individuals are unwilling to accept responsibility for negative behavior blaming the modern culture.
A healthcare leader can address this issue by creating an organizational culture that enhances accountability among staff members (Renae & Victoria, 2014). Leaders should also help staff members to understand the importance of accountability and professionalism in the healthcare sector. Not all nurses have a clear understanding of their expectations as nursing professionals. A leader can go back to the basics of defining the role of registered nurses and the role of accountability in their profession (Renae & Victoria, 2014). Leaders should also be good examples to other workers through the performance of their roles and being accountable to the organization. This is because nurses are always looking at the actions and decisions made by leaders. Healthcare organizations can promote accountability and professionalism by developing clear standards for measuring professional performance (Renae & Victoria, 2014). This will enhance commitment by healthcare workers where good behavior can be rewarded.
Accountability and professionalism are important aspects in healthcare due to the benefits associated with the two aspects. It is important for nurses to be informed and constantly reminded of the importance of upholding ethical values and adhering to the code of professional standards that have been established (Griffith, 2015). This is because these standards have been developed to guide nurses in being accountable and maintaining professional behavior while providing their services in diverse perspectives. This is because registered nurses are accountable for their decisions and actions that they make within their role as members of the nursing profession (Griffith, 2015). These two aspects are key ingredients in establishing a reputable profession as they form the core values of the nursing practice leading to success in the healthcare sector. This also promotes standardized practice in the delivery of healthcare across different healthcare facilities (Griffith, 2015).
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- Davis, C. (2017).The importance of professional accountability. Nursing made Incredibly Easy, 15(6), 4.
- Griffith, R. (2015). Accountability in district nursing practice: key concepts. British Journal of Community Nursing, 20(3), 146–149
- Krautscheid, L. C. (2014). Defining professional nursing accountability: a literature review. Journal of professional nursing. 30(1), 43-47.
- Miles, P.V.,, Conway, P. H., & Pawlson, L. G. (2013). Physician professionalism and accountability: the role of collaborative improvement networks. Pediatrics, 131(4), 204-209. HYPERLINK “https://aornjournal.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/action/doSearch?ContribAuthorStored=Batti%C3%A9%2C+Renae” Renae, B., & Victoria, M. (2014). Accountability in Nursing Practice: Why It Is Important for Patient Safety. AORN Journal, 100(5), 537-541.