In order to enter the nursing profession and to achieve a successful career, there are many personal and professional qualities that are essential to the task of becoming a nurse. Part of being a competent healthcare professional involves self-awareness, the ability to identify both the gifts that one brings to the profession as well as the quirks or weaknesses that will undoubtedly arise when doing this very difficult work. This paper will discuss two personal and professional issues that I believe are likely to come up for me while providing patient care, and that, in order to address them appropriately, will require ongoing consultation with a nursing leader.
The first quality that I will describe can be perceived as both a strength and a weakness: I am a very compassionate and emotional person. While I believe that this will largely be a strength in my nursing career because I am able to convey to people that I sincerely care about them and can empathize with them, I know that it will be very difficult to manage my emotions when working with patients who have terminal diagnoses, are in significant pain, and may indeed die from their illness or injuries. Striking a balance between being emotionally available to these patients and being able to keep my feelings and boundaries on a professional level will be a significant challenge. For example, if patients or their family members are crying, it would be very easy for me to become tearful as well, and I certainly would not want to add to the distress level in the room or make the patient feel bad or worse that they have caused me pain.
The last thing in the world that would be helpful would be for patients to be worrying about my emotional well-being; they have enough to worry about given their own medical conditions. Therefore, I would want to consult with a nursing leader who could help me keep my professional boundaries intact so that my personal reactions do not interfere with patient care.
Nursing leaders are tremendously influential in changing our current healthcare system into one that is driven by the needs of patients and families; health care must be holistic, personalized, convenient, effective, and efficient (Harriet Feldman, 2008.) Therefore, I would expect a nursing leader to be able to help me separate my emotional reactions to patients and their illnesses from providing quality patient care. Another area in which I believe I will need help is regarding the issue of confidentiality. I am extremely clear about the absolute importance of maintaining patient confidentiality, yet on a regular basis, and despite the HIPPAA regulations , I am constantly observing instances of violation of patients’ privacy. I become absolutely enraged, and while I know that my commitment to patient confidentiality is admirable, my extreme reaction when it is violated threatens to jeopardize my relationships with my colleagues and other healthcare providers in my working environment. For example, I recently went to a doctor’s office and on the wall was a poster, saying “Thanks to the following patients for their referrals:” What followed was a list of’ patients’ first and last names hanging on the wall, for everyone else in the waiting room to observe.
When I went up to the reception area to sign in, I asked the receptionist, “Did you get the permission of those patients to post their names on the wall of your office?” The receptionist, startled, replied, “No, why?” I literally left the office and didn’t go back. I felt sickened that such a basic principle of confidentiality was not grasped by either the staff or even the doctor. While I think it might be helpful for me to point out violations of confidentiality, I will definitely need professional help with a nurse leader to learn how to do so in a way that is not angry, judgmental, and would threaten my relationships with other professionals. Because nursing leaders are considered to be people who are able to tolerate ambiguity and paradox while maintaining a clear focus on the goal and creating positive spaces for all to participate (Harriet Feldman, 2008), I would expect that a nurse leader would be able to help me to learn the skills that would allow me to temper my reactions to the violations of privacy in order to communicate my concerns in a productive way that will enhance, rather than jeopardize, my collegial relationships.