The foundation of the professional practice of nursing exists with the aim to provide quality care for all individuals. In order to fulfill this purpose, practicing nurses should:
- Maintain adequate credentials
- Follow the code of ethics, standards, and competencies
- Continue professional development and education
In most countries throughout the world, the practice of nursing is regulated by national or state law to keep the practice standards high. As such, an individual wishing to enter and continue in the profession is required to pass certain education and training requirement set by the government.
Ethics, Standards, and Competencies
Nurses are responsible for the care of all individuals from every ethnicity and religious background, including both healthy and ill individuals. This is usually a holistic care approach comprising of the patients’ physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual, social, and spiritual requirements. In order to provide this care, nurses use scientific theory with technological aids for the best patient outcomes.
Although the exact code of ethics differs for each country, there are four main principles that form the foundation of nursing practice, as follows:
- Prioritize the care of individuals with respect to their dignity
- Cooperate with other health professionals to promote the health and wellbeing of patients
- Provide exemplary care at all times
- Act with integrity and honesty to uphold the reputation of the profession
These principles hold the base of good professional practice and should be followed by all nurses to ensure that the care provided to patients is the most beneficial for each individual.
Professional Development and Education
In order to be recognized and practice as a nurse, an individual needs to hold adequate credentials in terms of education, training, and experience, as determined by the regulatory body in the respective country of the world.
A nurse may practice as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN). The entry requirements and scope of practice of these roles differ slightly for each country. In general, a university degree is required for an RN, whereas qualifications for an LPN can be obtained via a shorter diploma. Registered nurses provide the scientific and technical knowledge needed to make decisions in practice and also have the option to do further study to gain specialized knowledge.
It is important that a nurse continues to learn and improve their standard of practice throughout their career as a nurse. This involves continued professional development through education and experience. In many countries, it is a requirement of LPNs and RNs to complete a number of development activities each year to continue practicing as a nurse.
Female Predominance in Nursing Profession
Although there is equal opportunity for individuals of any gender to become a nurse, the profession has traditionally been, and continues to be, dominated by females. To illustrate this, the male:female ratio in the United States and Canada is approximately 1:19 and this remains relatively consistent in other regions of the world, with a few exceptions.