Shadowing a DoctorOctober 20, 2014
The two most crucial elements of professional development for nurses – Academic development & professional presence
Part 1 of this series discussed academic development. This article takes a look at professional presence.
There’s no doubt that knowledge is a crucial component of professional development for nurses. It is the single most important element that can help open the doors of opportunity to you. However, while it may be instrumental in opening the doors of opportunity, you are not likely to get very far without professional presence. You may be the most knowledgeable and competent nurse on the floor, but if you are nasty or rude, have a negative attitude, are unable to communicate with patients or work together with colleagues, and do not portray yourself as a professional, you will not be liked or respected and you will find it very difficult to advance in your career.
To establish professional presence, consider these five factors:
Take note of your personal appearance
It takes just a few seconds to make a first impression – whether good or bad. How you dress, your body language and facial expressions, what you say and how you say it, all send a message to everybody around you. It is important that your appearance should convey the message that you are a professional and that you take your role as a nurse seriously. Take a minute to look in the mirror before you report on the floor. Do you inspire confidence in the people you care for and work with? If not, it’s time to make some changes.
Improve your communication skills
Do you communicate clearly and concisely? Communication skills are the number one skill people look for when promoting someone. Be aware of what you say, how you say it, and how you articulate what you do as a nurse to your patients, colleagues and to the public. If communication is a weakness of yours, find ways to strengthen it. Take a class, attend a seminar and look for other opportunities that allow you to improve your oral and written communication skills.
Be mindful of your professional etiquette
Common courtesy and etiquette are key to establishing professional presence and it does not have to be anything major. Don’t forget to say please and thank you – people always remember who thanked them and who didn’t. Return phone calls and reply to emails as soon as possible. More often than not, it’s the small everyday things that count in the end.
Watch your behaviour
Competence, compassion, care and empathy are the hallmark attributes of any nurse. Bad behaviour does not belong in the hospital. While an occasional bad day is understandable, a pattern of bad behaviour will jeopardise all your employment and promotional avenues.
Always maintain a positive attitude
Behaviour and attitude may appear to be the same, but they are in fact two distinctly separate elements. Attitude is all about your mindset. It is a measure of how you feel about things and how you engage in the world? Do you have a positive or negative attitude? A consistently negative attitude can cause additional stress in an environment where stress is already rife. On the other hand, a positive attitude can instill confidence in your patients and inspire your colleagues.