Friday, July 15, 2005
Examination of Factors that Influence the Professional Values of Practicing Nurses
Professional values guide the practice of registered nurses. Nurses in all work settings rely on these values, either consciously or subconsciously, when making patient care decisions, formulating policies and procedures, and framing educational experiences. The initial socialization process begins during nursing school and continues to evolve throughout the nurses' career. Factors influencing the evolution of professional values include education, role, gender, ethnicity, age, and experience. Samples from three unique subsets of registered nurses completed the Nurses Professional Values Scale, an instrument designed to quantify and prioritize a nurse's professional values. The three subsets included a random sample of 453 members of the American Nurses Association, a convenience sample of 35 members of the American Association of Men in Nursing, and a convenience sample of 103 registered nurses employed in an acute care hospital whose primary responsibility was direct patient care. Findings from the three groups were merged to provide an overview of professional values and then compared and contrasted to identify the unique characteristics and priorities of each group. The three groups were more alike than different with mean total scores from 178 to 180 (N = 591). Values priorities however, were different for the three groups and for subsets between and within the groups. Understanding both the evolutionary process and factors that influence professional nursing values is essential for the maintenance of the public's trust in the ever-changing and often chaotic healthcare environment.