The field of nursing entails different aspects that allow nurses to offer quality care services to patients. First, through training, nurses acquire theoretical knowledge on how to deal with patients holistically within ethical and legal frameworks.
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Additionally, such knowledge allows cultural competence among nurses whereby they can care for patients from diverse backgrounds. On the other hand, nursing is governed by set standards that should be observed when handling patients. Moreover, the nursing field depends on research for the adoption of the best evidence-based practice for improved patient outcomes. This paper addresses how my specialty role’s standards and competencies influence practice, how nursing research, theory, law, and ethics apply to it, and how nurses can provide culturally sensitive care.
My Specialty Role’s Standards and Competencies
After completing the basic nursing course and training, nurses obtain basic knowledge about the profession. Therefore, as nurses start working, they apply what was imparted to them in school. However, with time, nurses gain work experience, which improves the way care is delivered to patients. Such competencies affect practice positively as patient outcomes are enhanced through the quality care provision. Similarly, nurses are trained to observe certain standards to ensure that patients receive optimum care. Such standards play an important role in nursing practice as they ensure professionalism among nurses in the course of executing their duties.
The specialty training at Aspen University has provided me with advanced knowledge that has improved my standards as a nurse in different ways. In particular, this knowledge has made me competent, confident, and capable of taking on advanced roles, such as an educator, an informatics nurse, and a mentor. The course has benefited my practice as I can now offer quality evidence-based care. I have also gained cultural competence and awareness in care provision services.
Application of Nursing Research, Theory, Ethics, and Law to Practice
Research plays an integral part in nursing practice. Tappen (2016) posits that research is a “multidimensional activity that requires conscientiousness, logic, creativity, and active interaction with others” (p. xiv). Research is important as it introduces new knowledge that shapes nursing practice with the ultimate goal of improving the provision of care services. Nursing research changes the way tasks are completed to ensure the quality of care and lead to better patient outcomes.
Some examples of how nursing research has been applied to practice can be seen in postoperative care where early ambulation is highly recommended because it allows the drainage of secretions, promotes healing, and prevents clot formation. Similarly, solutions for dressings have changed as, through research, it was established that betadine or iodine causes the growth of certain organisms, so it is not left on wounds. These examples highlight how research affects nursing practice positively.
Theory is an essential component of nursing as a scientific discipline because it forms the basis of the practice. Theory provides the rationale for nursing actions together with how nurses should execute their duties. Nurses build and retain their knowledge from theory so that it can be utilized later on when they offer their services to patients. For instance, the essentiality of nursing theory stands out in the initial part of training where students are taken through the basics of handling patients based on different theoretical frameworks. As nurses start their careers, the knowledge gained during training becomes applicable in real-life situations.
According to Pozgar (2013), ethics is a “branch of philosophy that seeks to comprehend the nature, purposes, justification, and founding principles of moral rules and the involved legal system” (p. 57). Ethics considers values because it relates to human conduct. One principle of ethics is autonomy, which involves recognizing the right of a person to make his or her own decisions. Respect for this autonomy is recognized in the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. With such advance knowledge, I am now able to handle situations legally and ethically, without having to seek the help of a supervisor.
For example, when attending to a difficult patient who is angry and refusing treatment, I am aware of what is right and what is expected based on the advance legal and ethical knowledge that I have acquired. Therefore, in handling such a situation, the patient comes first and, thus, he or she is allowed to exercise his or her autonomy. The patient should be given all the necessary information about what is ordered, what needs to be done, and why so that an informed decision can be made. When all the necessary information is given to him or her, the patient is requested to make a decision, which should be respected as one has the right to refuse treatment. The patient’s decision should be documented because if it is not recorded, it cannot be used as legal proof that care was offered.
The informatics section of the Master’s course that I am undertaking has influenced my nursing practice, as more effort is now put into maintaining the security of the information system by locking my computer screen each time I am engaged into another task. As a healthcare professional, I am aware that a license is necessary to practice and in order to maintain it, practice should be done according to the set ethics and laws.
Law is defined as a “binding custom or practice of a community, a rule of conduct, or action that is prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority” (Guido, 2014, p. 2). Nursing is governed by laws and ethics, which, when applied to practice, helps nurses determine what is right or wrong. As such, a nurse being able to determine it will also understand how much the law is effective. In applying the law and ethics to nursing practice, nurses become aware that patients have rights, such as autonomy. Consequently, by allowing this autonomy to be respected, nurses ensure that an informed consent is always obtained from the patient before conducting any procedure.
If it is not obtained and anything goes wrong, healthcare professionals and their employers can be sued, and this situation can result in loss of the license to practice and increase in expenditure for the involved organization. By applying law and ethics when giving care, nurses realize that patients have the right to refuse care and that such decision should be respected.
Cultural Sensitive Care
As healthcare professionals, nurses provide care to different individuals from diverse cultures. Before they can offer culturally sensitive care, they should develop cultural awareness. This aspect allows nurses to become culturally competent, and one way to accomplish this is through education. Purnell (2013) states that culture is the “totality of socially transmitted behavioral patterns, arts, beliefs, values, customs, lifeways, and other products brought about by human works” (p. 6).
Cultural awareness involves being appreciative of the external signs of diversity, such as arts, music, food, clothes, and physical characteristics. Cultural sensitivity involves personal attitudes and not saying or doing anything that might be offensive to someone from another cultural or ethical background. Cultural competence in healthcare means having the requisite skills, knowledge, and abilities to deliver care that is congruent with the cultural beliefs and practices of the patient.
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The following example is an account of my experience whereby my cultural awareness and competence allowed me to provide culturally sensitive care. About eight years ago, I moved away from home, which is in the Caribbean, to another country in the region. However, the majority of people in my new country of residence was of different cultures and spoke various languages. My patients were from India, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the United States of America, Canada, and Russia among others. Many of them did not speak English, which is my first and only language.
Therefore, I started learning Haitian Creole, Spanish, and other languages with the help of my staff members. I wanted to be in a position to communicate effectively with my patients. I became good friends with a colleague from Haiti, and he taught me many aspects about his culture. By asking questions, I developed cultural awareness, which allowed me to be more open-minded, communicate better, and be careful with actions or words that could be considered offensive in other languages or cultures. Every time I was not sure of something, I would ask patients to explain what something meant and what their preferences were.
Doing a Master’s course at Aspen University has allowed me to understand various cultures better and discover those that I did not know of before. By becoming culturally aware and competent, I was able to provide culturally sensitive care. This assertion holds because I could relate well with the actions and expressions of my patients, which allowed me to express more empathy and sympathy. I have managed to provide culturally sensitive care by providing the type of care that I would want for myself and by looking at patients holistically.
Nurses operate within set rules, standards, ethics, and laws. These guiding principles are learned through training in school where theoretical frameworks governing nursing practice are articulated. After starting their careers, nurses gain on-the-job experiences, which play an important role in ensuring improved care delivery and patient outcomes. Experience also creates competence, and nurses can develop cultural awareness and serve patients from diverse backgrounds as discussed in this paper.
Guido, G. (2014). Legal and ethical issues in nursing (6th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.
Pozgar, G. (2013). Legal and ethical issues for health professional (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Purnell, L. (2013). Transcultural health care, a culturally competent approach (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company.
Tappen, R. (2016). Advanced nursing research from theory to practice (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.