Top 5 Nursing Values and How to Apply Them

nursing valuesBy Moira K. McGhee

What are the top five nursing values and why are they so important?  

Nursing is a caring, compassionate profession. Nurses do not just perform tasks or provide services, they develop an empathy for the needs of others and a connection with their patients.  

Applying nurse core values in all your actions ensures the trust put in your hands by your patients and fellow medical staff is well justified. 

Nursing Values: How to Apply the Top 5 Nurse Core Values  

Apply these top five professional nursing values in your everyday practices to retain the trust and confidence of your patients and fellow medical staff members.

1. Compassion 

Compassion encompasses empathy, caring and the promotion of each patient’s dignity.  

Being sensitive to the needs of your patients and your patients' families is one of the most fundamental nursing values, but Matthew Thomson, a CCRN with ten years in the nursing field, cautions against burnout. 

“Nurses get burned out and suffer from compassion fatigue,” explains Thomson.  

“However, we need to remember that even though we have seen something a thousand times, this is probably their first. Treat every patient like they were your family member, and treat their guests like they were your own.” 

2. Trustworthiness 

Nurses are among the most trusted groups of people, making trustworthiness one of the most essential nursing values and vital to your integrity and ethical behavior.  

Patients and fellow medical staff depend on their trust in your confidentiality, faithfulness and responsibility to your patients and their needs.

3. Humility

Nursing is one of the most rewarding, fulfilling career paths. With it comes a wealth of medical knowledge and skills that allow you to facilitate healing and alleviate suffering through diagnosis and treatment, but humility should also be your companion.  

Thomson advises nurses to remain humble. 

“Whether you're a nurse graduate or a nurse with 30 years of experience, we can all improve on our skills and knowledge,” Thomson explains. “Keep an open mind and open heart. Your patients will reap the benefits.” 

4. Accountability 

Professional nursing values wouldn’t be complete without accountability. Thomson stresses the importance of taking ownership over your practice, including every mistake, error in judgment or failure to communicate. 

“Practice a mental exercise where you assume every problem is 100 percent your own fault,” explains Thomson.  

“How did you contribute to a problem? What could you have done better? How can you improve next time? It forces you to take an active role in your life and keeps you from blaming others.” 

5. Curiosity 

Nursing knowledge encompasses all the theories, philosophies, research and practice wisdom of the nursing profession. You should never stop learning. 

As Thomson points out, “graduation is only the beginning of a nurse’s education. Curiosity and an insatiable desire to learn separates mediocre nurses from great ones.”

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