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10 Ways to Demonstrate Integrity in Nursing Practice
Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Are you a nurse with a strong desire to improve relationships between patients, families, and your team members? Do you have what it takes to step up and be the change you want to see in nursing? If so, one of the best ways to accomplish positive outcomes, build strong nurse-patient and professional relationships, and improve the delivery of healthcare is to act with the highest levels of integrity. Perhaps you are wondering, "How can nurses demonstrate integrity in nursing practice?” There are many characteristics associated with nursing integrity, and in this article, I will share 10 ways to demonstrate integrity in nursing practice. As you continue reading, you will learn what integrity in nursing means, why it is important, and how a lack of integrity can impact patients, nurses, and the healthcare industry.
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What Does Integrity in Nursing Practice Mean Exactly?
Integrity is defined as the quality of being fair and honest, having strong moral principles, or having a firm adherence to a code of moral values. Integrity in nursing practice means keeping confidences, practicing forthrightness, and having an overall sense of trustworthiness. Nurses with a high level of integrity are well-suited for success as care providers.
4 Reasons Why Is It Important to Have Integrity in Nursing Practice
Practicing integrity in nursing is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, your patients, and your team members. Here are a couple of reasons why nurses should strive to have integrity.
1. Like your reputation, your integrity in nursing practice precedes you.
Integrity defines your character. When you practice integrity as a nurse, others will identify you as dependable and trustworthy, which helps promote healthy relationships between you, your coworkers, and your patients.
2. Your efforts to demonstrate integrity have a positive impact on patient outcomes.
Nurses with high levels of integrity strive to offer their best to patients. Patients cared for by nurses with high integrity tend to trust their nurses. When there is a therapeutic nurse-patient relationship, patient outcomes tend to be more positive.
3. When you practice integrity in nursing, it inspires others to be better.
Having a high level of integrity speaks volumes to the people around you. Your attitude and work ethic are evident to coworkers, patients, and everyone else you encounter. Positive habits are a strong motivation for others to improve their behavior. Your efforts to demonstrate integrity promote determination to be better in others.
4. You help create a better work environment.
When high levels of integrity are at the core of who you are, you exude professionalism and make others feel they can count on you. Working with someone who is dependable, trustworthy, and honest makes everything about work seem more manageable.
8 Key Traits That a Nurse with Integrity Has
The desire to demonstrate integrity in nursing practice stems from having a solid moral compass. It is typically easy to identify people with good character and integrity. The following are 8 key traits of nurses with high integrity.
1. Nurses with integrity value other people’s time.
Nurses are busy people, and those with integrity understand your time is as valuable as theirs. They try to work efficiently without dawdling or spending time distracted. A nurse with integrity will also appreciate that your time matters and will thank you when you offer your time and attention to them.
2. They are kind and considerate.
Integrity in nursing means treating others the way you want to be treated. Nurses with integrity do not take advantage of others. Instead, they prefer to give to others without thinking about what they can gain in return.
3. Nurses with integrity look for ways to do good deeds.
When working and caring for patients, it can be easy to feel like you don't have extra time. People with integrity look for opportunities to do good things for others. Despite busy schedules or heavy patient loads, nurses who practice integrity feel fulfilled when they do things to brighten someone else's day or do something to improve their patient's life or experiences.
4. They look for the positive side in every situation and try to help others see the good, as well.
Nurses who have integrity realize the importance of having a positive attitude. These nurses understand their view of situations can influence how others feel and/or respond. Having a positive outlook can help improve relationships and patient outcomes.
5. Nurses with integrity are trustworthy.
Being trustworthy means others can count on you to tell them the truth, even if the truth is difficult to hear. In nursing, honesty is imperative. Patients are often anxious or afraid, and often, their biggest fear is fear of the unknown. When you are honest with patients, they find it easier to trust you instead of worrying about whether they can believe what you tell them. Honesty is one of the vital elements of strong nurse-patient relationships.
6. Authenticity is another trait of people with integrity.
When someone is authentic, they have an air of “what you see is what you get” about them. Authenticity is an important character trait for nurses because patients and team members need to know they can depend on you to be who and what you are.
7. Not afraid to admit mistakes:
Anyone can shout about their accomplishments or the good things they've done for others. However, it takes a person with good moral standards and integrity who are not afraid to admit when they are wrong. While people who lack integrity may view admitting mistakes as a weakness, those with high integrity consider it a strength. Knowing their willingness to accept and discuss mistakes makes them better.
8. Integrity in nursing practice means keeping your emotions in check.
Everyone experiences times when our emotions get the best of us. Nurses with integrity recognize changes in their emotions and put forth every effort to control their emotions, especially in stressful situations.
HOW CAN NURSES DEMONSTRATE INTEGRITY IN NURSING PRACTICE?
Practicing integrity as a nurse means having a set of core values and demonstrating them in all your efforts. The concepts of integrity in nursing practice are the same concepts anyone who wishes to have high moral character and integrity should follow. The following are ten top ways nurses can demonstrate integrity in nursing practice.
1. Be honest.
Integrity in nursing practice (and life in general) means being honest. You must be honest with yourself and others. If you make a mistake, own it and learn from it. Don’t risk being dishonest simply because you think others don't want to hear the truth. You can be tactful and compassionate while being honest.
2. Be dependable.
The work you do as a nurse is far-reaching, affecting patients, their loved ones, the interdisciplinary team, and the healthcare organization where you work. One way to demonstrate integrity in nursing is to be someone your employer, coworkers, and patients can depend on. Arrive for work on time and be prepared to begin work. If you are sick or have an emergency that prevents you from being at work or that will make you late, call your supervisor immediately.
3. Treat other people with respect.
People deserve to be treated respectfully, regardless of their physical or mental abilities or unique circumstances. When you treat everyone you encounter with the same respect and consideration, this demonstrates high professional and personal integrity.
4. Hold yourself accountable.
It is important to hold yourself accountable for mistakes, even if you believe no one else knows. Admit wrongdoings and put forth the effort to right wrongs. For instance, if you are responsible for an error in documentation or don't complete an assignment, talk with your supervisor. Explain the situation and explore ways to prevent repeating the same mistake later.
5. Give credit to others for their efforts.
It can be easy to notice when someone does not get a job done or when the outcome of an assignment is not what you expected. One way to practice integrity in nursing is to acknowledge the efforts of your peers and patients. Even if you feel like you could accomplish a task better than someone else, a willingness to compliment others for what they do improves morale. It strengthens relationships, resulting in better professional and patient outcomes.
6. Follow company policies and rules.
Business leaders and administrators develop company policies to help protect the organization and all those affected by its operations. Company policies help keep employees and patients safe, promote work efficiency and foster an environment of professionalism. When you take the time to understand rules, regulations, and policies related to your job, you demonstrate integrity in nursing.
7. Be a positive example for others to follow.
You don’t have to be a supervisor or in a leadership position to be a positive role model for others. Having a good attitude, being helpful, and showing respect are excellent ways to be a positive example to others.
8. Respect property and equipment.
Medical equipment and supplies are expensive. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities typically provide equipment for use by employees. By taking care of the property that belongs to your employer, you demonstrate integrity in nursing practice. A few ways to do this include avoiding using business supplies for personal use, reporting damaged or faulty equipment, and returning equipment to the appropriate storage place after use.
9. Lend a helping hand.
People with high moral integrity enjoy helping others. As a nurse, you can demonstrate integrity by offering to help a coworker. Simple things like offering to help transfer a patient from the bed to a wheelchair or assisting with repositioning a patient can make a difference to the nurse who needs you. When you help others, you also set an excellent example for others to follow.
10. Address conflict and stress at work with respect.
Even the best work relationships can be stressed at times. Whether you have a critical patient, are short-staffed, or simply having a bad day, it can be easy to lash out at others when stress levels are high. When you take the time to gather your thoughts and address a stressful situation or conflict calmly and rationally, treating others with respect, this is a sign of integrity in nursing.
4 Consequences of Lack of Integrity in Nursing Practice
There are many benefits to having integrity in nursing practice. Likewise, there are consequences related to lack of integrity which can affect everyone.
1. Poor nurse-patient relationships:
Nurses who lack integrity when providing patient care often experience difficulties developing trusting relationships with their patients. Healthy nurse-patient relationships are conducive to improved patient outcomes. Therefore, learning ways to practice integrity and strengthen relationships is essential.
2. Increased stress at work:
It is difficult, if not impossible, to have good work relationships if you don’t have integrity. Lack of integrity in nursing practice can cause increased stress within the interdisciplinary team, making communication and effective patient care difficult.
3. Unfavorable patient outcomes:
Lack of integrity in nursing seems to have a domino effect. The strain that a lack of integrity brings to nurse-patient and professional relationships and the increased stress that results in the work environment leads to poor work performance and decreases patient compliance, which results in unfavorable patient outcomes.
4. Loss of job security:
Employers seek to hire nurses with high levels of integrity because they know these nurses will work hard to improve their facilities and provide high-quality patient care. When nurses lack integrity, they can quickly become a liability to healthcare facilities, which can lead to loss of employment.
Useful Resources to Develop Integrity in Nursing Practice
There are many sources of information to learn about integrity and what it means personally and professionally. The following are resources focused on integrity in nursing practice from sources including YouTube, podcasts, and books on the topic.
• “Integrity in Nursing” (Nicolas Fullmer speaking to the NSNA Ethics and Governance Committee)
My Final Thoughts
One of the best ways to demonstrate true dedication and build strong relationships in nursing is to develop a high level of personal integrity. While many people understand the concepts of integrity, others may ask, “How can nurses demonstrate integrity in nursing practice?” In this article, I shared 10 ways to demonstrate integrity in nursing practice, resources about the importance of integrity, and some personal insight into why it is so important for nurses. I encourage you to put forth the effort every day to strengthen traits of high integrity, and I assure you that you will excel personally and professionally by doing so.
Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).