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Top 25 Professional Nursing Values + Why They're Important


Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

If you are a nurse seeking to find ways to boost your career and your relationships, the best way to start is by developing strong professional nursing values. Maybe you are wondering, “What are the top professional nursing values?” or “How do I learn about professional nursing values?” If that sounds like you, this article is for you. As you continue reading, you will find 25 top professional nursing values and why they are important to successful nursing.


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What Exactly Are Professional Nursing Values?


Professional nursing values are the standards and principles nurses embrace and follow in their role as care providers and healthcare team members. Nursing values are what many call the moral knowledge that promotes ethical behaviors and attitudes of nurses. They are essential for providing quality patient care and developing strong interprofessional and nurse-patient relationships.


7 Main Reasons Why Professional Values Are Important In Nursing


1. Professional nursing values reflect your self-worth and confidence, which makes you attractive to prospective employers.

2. When nurses act with a set of professional nursing values, it indicates a dedication to the profession, which can help boost your career to higher levels.

3. Nurses with a solid set of professional nursing values typically have strong interprofessional relationships. Nurses and other healthcare workers like to associate with like-minded professionals. When you develop a set of quality professional values, you make yourself more attractive to other healthcare professionals, which can help strengthen interprofessional relationships.

4. Improved Patient Satisfaction: When nurses demonstrate professional values, patient satisfaction ratings typically increase.

5. Nurses with strong professional values are viewed as genuine and trustworthy. These values are helpful when it comes to building strong nurse-patient relationships.

6. Nurses who cultivate professional values find it easier to grow and develop personally and professionally. In fact, a strong set of professional nursing values can help you build a solid foundation upon which you can establish your career.

7. When developed and implemented in daily practice, professional nursing values provide a basis or guideline for clinical judgment and decision-making with the patient’s needs in mind, which is necessary for quality nursing care.



WHAT ARE THE TOP PROFESSIONAL NURSING VALUES?


Professional nursing values are essential for the success of all nurses, no matter their experience level. The top 25 professional nursing values listed below are some of the most important values nurses can learn, develop, and continue to cultivate throughout their careers.

1. Trustworthiness


What is it:

Trustworthiness is one of the most essential nursing values. Trustworthiness encompasses traits such as reliability, competence, and honesty. Nurses who are trustworthy are easily relied upon to do their work honestly, efficiently, and with the highest levels of professional integrity.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Trust influences a nurse's ability to form therapeutic relationships with patients and families. It is also essential for building strong professional relationships. Vulnerable patients rely on nurses to meet their needs. When nurses demonstrate trustworthiness, it helps reduce patient anxiety and improves patient outcomes. Employers look for nurses who demonstrate trustworthiness because they know those nurses can improve patient satisfaction ratings, which impacts their organizations.


2. Accountability


What is it:

The American Nursing Association's Code of Ethics defines accountability as "being answerable to oneself and others for one's own actions." Accountability means being able to give account for one's actions and judgments and includes omissions if they occur.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Nurses use their professional skills, knowledge, and judgment to make decisions about patient care every day. Accountability in nursing is important because it holds the nurse responsible for justifying their decisions. Additionally, accountability is a key factor in reducing fear in patients, promoting trusting relationships, and improving team morale. Accountability sometimes means admitting when you make a mistake or that you’re unsure of how to perform a task. It requires putting the patient’s safety and needs first and is an admirable professional value that employers appreciate.


3. Compassion


What is it:

Compassion is a vital professional nursing value. Compassion refers to the sensitivity shown to others in order to understand their feelings. It encompasses a willingness to help others and promote the well-being of others. In nursing, compassion is an indispensable component of successful patient care.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Providing compassionate nursing care can impact several aspects of nursing. When nurses show compassion to patients, it helps ease fear and anxiety, which promotes positive patient outcomes. Compassion toward peers helps create an atmosphere conducive to building strong professional relationships and trust. Compassion in nursing leads to safer care environments, higher patient satisfaction rates, time- and cost-effective care, and increased confidence among nurses.


4. Integrity


What is it:

Integrity is the quality of being honest and fair, adhering to a code of moral values, and having strong moral principles. Nurses who practice integrity demonstrate a sense of trustworthiness, keep patient confidences, and practice forthrightness.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Integrity is one of the top professional nursing values, and for good reason. When nurses practice integrity, patients and peers identify them as trustworthy, which helps establish a dependable foundation for healthy interprofessional and nurse-patient relationships. Integrity in nursing practice is linked to improved patient outcomes, helps promote strong work environments, and inspires others to demonstrate the same quality.


5. Value Diversity


What is it:

Diversity means having variety. When nurses value diversity, it means recognizing and appreciating the differences among patients, their loved ones, and peers. Diversity includes having people with different ethnic, racial, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds. It also involves recognizing others' lifestyles, interests, and experiences. Nurses who learn to value diversity learn one of the most important professional values in nursing.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

When nurses value diversity, they experience increased opportunities to learn about various approaches to patient care from both patients and colleagues. As nurses learn to embrace diversity and respect the differences in patients and peers, they develop more culturally competent approaches to patient care, which promotes more favorable patient outcomes and a smoother work environment.


6. Curiosity


What is it:

Curiosity is a strong desire to know something or learn. It is also the term used to describe one’s inquisitive interest in others’ concerns. In nursing, curiosity involves asking questions until you get answers you understand and using the knowledge you gain to promote patient well-being.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Curiosity is one of the vital nursing values upon which nurses develop clinical reasoning skills. Another benefit of curiosity in nursing is that it promotes a culture of continuous learning. Curious nurses ask questions and seek facts to help them communicate with patients and team members. By exercising a curious nature, nurses can take both objective and subjective data to develop effective nursing care plans, promoting positive patient outcomes and better team building.


7. Autonomy


What is it:

When we think of the professional values of nurses, autonomy is undoubtedly at the top of the list. Autonomy in nursing gives nurses the freedom to make decisions and act within their professional knowledge base and scope of practice. In simple terms, autonomy refers to the nurse's ability to demonstrate critical thinking skills and perform tasks related to patient care.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Autonomy leads to innovation, promotes involvement, and increases job satisfaction among nurses. Studies suggest environments where nurses exercise more autonomy have lower rates of employee turnover and fewer delays in patient care, which positively impacts patient satisfaction.


8. Positive Self-Esteem


What is it:

Positive self-esteem is the characteristic of holding oneself in positive regard. It does not mean that you deny or overlook negative aspects about yourself. Instead, it involves acknowledging everything about yourself and offering admiration and respect to yourself for who and what you are. Positive self-esteem does not always mean that you "like" yourself but that you are comfortable acknowledging and giving yourself dignity, respect, love, and value.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Some people may not immediately think of positive self-esteem as one of the professional values in nursing. However, self-esteem can significantly impact relationships with patients and peers. Self-esteem is believed to be a predictor of differences in emotional, behavioral, and cognitive aspects of individuals' lives. It is also helpful in mediating the regulation of psychological and physical responses to success and failure. When nurses have positive self-esteem, their personalities tend to be more stable, which can help patients feel more at ease.


9. Empathy


What is it:

Empathy is the ability to understand, see, and share others' opinions or viewpoints without being judgmental. In nursing, empathy requires nurses to imagine what it feels like to be in their patients' position, demonstrate a connection with the patient, and act on the understanding of how patients feel to enhance their care.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Empathy in nursing has behavioral, cognitive, and emotional implications. When nurses learn to demonstrate empathy, they become more adept at assessing social cues from patients and their loved ones, which, when coupled with clinical assessments, help to enhance patient care. Empathy in nursing improves nursing performance by establishing respect, encouraging positive attitudes and behaviors, and promoting ethical decision-making.


10. Professionalism


What is it:

The American Nurses Association defines professionalism in nursing as "the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.” Professionalism in nursing means providing high-quality patient care while upholding values of respect, integrity, and accountability.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Professionalism in nursing ensures that nurses achieve and deliver the highest standards of patient care. Professionalism drives professional development and relationship building among healthcare professionals and between nurses and their patients. When nurses conduct themselves in a professional manner, it helps preserve the integrity of nursing and further strengthens the role of nurses in patient care.


11. Desire for Excellence


What is it:

Excellence is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good at something. A desire for excellence is one of the most essential professional nursing values. A desire for excellence does not necessarily mean a desire for perfection, but a strong drive to accomplish the highest quality of care possible within your scope of practice, knowledge, and skills.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Nurses care for patients from diverse backgrounds with all levels of illness or disease. To be effective in our roles and keep up with the increasing strain within the healthcare system, it is crucial for nurses to seek ways to demonstrate excellence in practice. When there is a strong culture of excellence in nursing, patient outcomes significantly improve. Nursing excellence promotes an atmosphere that fosters greater physician and interdisciplinary team engagement, which is beneficial to patients, nurses, the healthcare team, and the organizations they serve.


12. Altruism


What is it:

Altruism is described as the engagement of caring acts toward others with no expectation of something in return. In nursing, altruism means showing support for patients and acknowledging and supporting other nurses' concerns about the well-being of patients.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Altruism supports a positive, willing approach to caring for others. Because altruistic behavior is less about self and more about others, the patient is at the heart of the nurse’s behaviors and actions. Altruism motivates nurses to protect their patients’ dignity and provide safe, high-quality patient care.


13. Ingenuity


What is it:

Ingenuity is defined as the quality of being original, clever, and inventive.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Ingenuity is one of the top professional nursing values because it encourages critical thinking and evidence-based decision-making. As the healthcare industry is ever-changing, nurses must be alert and ready to implement new ways of providing patient care.


14. Respect for Human Dignity


What is it:

Perhaps the most basic explanation of human dignity is that it is the belief that all people have value that is tied to their humanity. Human dignity is not defined by a person's race, social class, gender, or religion. In nursing, acknowledging human dignity means respecting each person's individuality and treating them as unique beings. Human dignity in nursing focuses on all aspects of patient care and patient rights, including privacy, autonomy, and respect.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Respect for human dignity in nursing allows nurses to understand the importance and value of nursing care as it affects each patient. When nurses recognize and implement measures to show respect for human dignity, factors that threaten the dignity of patients are more easily eliminated.


15. Ethical


What is it:

Being ethical pertains to the morals or principles of morality. It means understanding the difference between right and wrong in conduct and striving to act in accordance with standards for right conduct or practice.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Having and adhering to ethical principles and guidelines helps nurses work through difficult situations. Strong ethics provide nurses with a moral compass to guide them in performing their jobs fairly. Ethical behavior in nursing promotes high levels of quality care. When nurses conduct themselves ethically, patient outcomes are more favorable, employers are satisfied with their work performance, and nurses have higher job satisfaction rates.


16. Advocacy


What is it:

The definition of advocacy is to provide public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy. In nursing, advocacy is any act the nurse does on behalf of the patient. The American Nurses Association includes advocacy in its Code of Ethics, stating, “the nurse promotes, advocates for, and protects the rights, health, and safety of the patient.”

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Advocacy can be a very effective tool for nurses, benefiting patients, nurses, and healthcare organizations. When used for the right reasons, advocacy is a powerful nursing value. Nurses may question orders and speak up on behalf of a patient, which can help reduce the risk of errors and harm to patients. Advocacy is an excellent way for nurses to speak on behalf of patients to collaborate with physicians or other healthcare team members.


17. Precision


What is it:

Precision is the condition, quality, or fact of being accurate and exact. The characteristic of precision is marked by or adapted for exactness and accuracy. Precision in nursing requires being willing to look at past work and find ways to improve your skills and become better.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Precision is essential and among the top professional nursing values. Accurate nursing care fulfills patient needs and creates a safe practice environment for nurses and other healthcare professionals. Quality, precise nursing care promotes healthcare environments where patients are at ease with the care they receive, team members participate in effective collaboration, and patient outcomes are positive.


18. Loyalty


What is it:

In general terms, loyalty is described as a strong feeling of allegiance or support. Nurses demonstrate loyalty by showing support for patients, being involved in therapeutic engagement with patients and team members, and delivering patient care that meets the highest standards possible.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

For nurses, workplace and employer loyalty can create a sense of meaning and belonging. Nurses who are loyal to their employers and team members often receive reciprocated loyalty, which strengthens the bonds of the interdisciplinary team and their organizations. Loyalty in nursing is one of the top professional nursing values because it not only affects nursing relationships. When patients feel nurses are loyal to them and have their best interests at heart, it helps them be more at ease, fostering stronger nurse-patient relationships.


19. Cultural Humility


What is it:

Cultural humility is a process of self-reflection and self-critique. It allows a person to be open to others’ identities, which is vital to providing holistic nursing care. Cultural humility allows nurses to compare similarities and differences between their personal values, beliefs, and goals with those of their patients.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Cultural humility is patient-centered. By implementing cultural humility, nurses can recognize biases and overcome them to put patient needs first. This nursing value allows nurses to approach patients on a personal level, considering factors that influence their wishes for the care they receive. Cultural humility is an important component of shared decision-making, which is at the heart of patient autonomy.


20. Dedicated to Learning


What is it:

A dedication to learning in nursing simply means being willing to push yourself to the next level. It means taking advantage of opportunities to expand your knowledge base and skill set.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

The field of healthcare is ever-growing and evolving. Therefore, one of the most important professional values in nursing is a dedication to lifelong learning. When nurses dedicate themselves to learning, it creates opportunities for expanded roles and empowers them with the knowledge and skills needed to provide excellent patient care.


21. Selflessness


What is it:

The ideal nurse knows the value of self but demonstrates selflessness in patient care. Selflessness in nursing means being more concerned with the needs of others than your own. That is not to say you should avoid self-care or things that keep you balanced. Instead, it means making your patient's needs a priority and performing nursing care without seeking a position, money, or recognition for the care you provide.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Unfortunately, nursing can be a thankless job. That does not mean patients or family members do not appreciate nurses' work. Sometimes the stress associated with illness, or the financial burden sickness can bring is all they can focus on, leaving nurses feeling as though their efforts are not noticed or valued. Selflessness is one of the nursing values that most of us may think little of because it seems to be in nurses’ nature to give of themselves without asking for anything in return.


22. Supports Social Justice


What is it:

Social justice in healthcare refers to the provision of equal healthcare services for all people, regardless of their personal characteristics. Nurses support and demonstrate social justice by offering equal and fair treatment to all patients, regardless of their race, age, ethnicity, citizenship, economic status, sexual orientation, or disability.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Social justice is an essential part of nursing care as it helps ensure that all individuals receive care to help them maintain their highest level of health and wellness. It translates to the delivery of high-quality healthcare to all people, regardless of means.


23. Sympathy


What is it:

Sympathy is one of the top professional nursing values. This value involves having an understanding from ones’ own perspective and experiences.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Sympathy is an essential value for nurses to have because it makes them seem more approachable and relatable to patients. It is one thing to say, "I feel for you," and something else to say, "I have experienced what you are going through." Unlike empathy, which is a projection of what you believe a patient feels based on your knowledge of them, sympathy comes from having similar experiences. When patients feel nurses can sympathize with them, it often creates a more trusting and open relationship, making it possible to get to know the patient and his needs better.


24. Professional Competency


What is it:

Professional competency is a fundamental element of nursing care. It refers to the delivery of care based upon professional standards and guidelines. Professional competency in nursing involves a combination of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and abilities used to provide effective, quality performance in the nursing role.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Professional competency ensures nurses provide care based upon proven standards which promote positive patient outcomes. Healthcare facilities that employ professionally competent nurses tend to have higher employee retention rates, increased employee satisfaction scores, and better patient satisfaction ratings.


25. Commitment to Nursing


What is it:

Commitment to nursing is demonstrated by loyalty and the desire to stay in the profession, even in the face of change or adversity. It implies commitment to provide the highest-quality patient care possible and to promote the nursing profession.

Why is it Important in Nursing:

Commitment to nursing is one of the most essential nursing values. Without a genuine commitment to the furtherance of the profession and to excellent patient care, patients, healthcare organizations and the profession all suffer negative impacts. Conversely, some research suggests that professional commitment, such as the nurse's commitment to nursing, enhances job satisfaction and performance and reduces absenteeism and employee turnover.


My Final Thoughts


In this article, we have discussed nursing values and answered the question, “What are the top professional nursing values?” As nurses, we are committed to lifelong learning and professional growth. Understanding nursing values and finding your own way of cultivating them and applying them to practice is one of the many ways to promote yourself personally and professionally. Here, I shared the 25 top professional nursing values and why they are important in hopes that you will find something that piques your interest and helps you develop a set of values that compliments your role in nursing. It is important to remember that you don’t have to fit into a cookie-cutter mold to be the perfect nurse. Find what works for you and apply professional values and principles and you will succeed!


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).