We don’t really hear a lot about integrity these days. But, this vital quality, though seldom discussed, is necessary in all aspects of healthcare. So, what is integrity, and, more importantly, how does it impact your career as a nurse?
Everyday, patients in your care count on you to make them whole, provide comfort, help them move around, or to simply calm their fears with a joke or a smile. You answer their questions, bathe them, listen to their stories, and keep their confidences. It’s what you do. You’re a nurse. It goes with the job.
The qualities you call upon in the day to day duties and demands of your career say as much about who you are as a person, as they speak to your abilities as a nurse. The integrity you exhibit, in the eyes of your patients, their families, and even your coworkers, give people a glimpse into the strength of your character and underscore all the reasons why you are an exemplary nurse.
Why Is Integrity Important
Every day, in healthcare centers across the country, nurses are faced with a host of challenges. From how short-staffing impacts patient care, to mandatory overtime and it’s effect on nursing staff, to physicians and family members who don’t really seem to “hear” what the patient is saying. How should you react in these, and many other situations? What inner strength of character do you call upon to help you deal with these challenges and still maintain excellent patient care?
Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest, and fair; possessing high moral principles. When you’re faced with challenges as a nurse, your integrity is what will keep you standing tall. Having a high degree of integrity, in your nursing career, and in your day-to-day life, is the ability to know, in your very fiber, that you’ve done right by everyone concerned.
Your honesty, forthrightness, ability to keep confidences and overall trustworthiness cannot be put on. Your patients see who you are and count on you to do the right thing, as it pertains to their care and comfort. This kind of trust relationship is what makes a successful nurse, and a nurse who possesses integrity among her core character traits, is well suited for success in patient care.
To Thine Own Self Be True
Hamlet wasn’t a nurse, however, William Shakespeare understood that being true to one’s own self, first and foremost, meant all else would fall into an honest place. More simply put, follow your own moral compass, be true to your beliefs, and you will easily possess the quality of integrity. Maintain that truth to self and you will exemplify the quality of integrity in all you do.
In nursing, integrity should come organically. When you behave in a genuine and authentic manner, integrity and other core values of nursing, make up who you are, as a nurse and as a person, no matter who-if anyone-is observing. When nurses take care to preserve their integrity, the task of truly caring for their patients becomes much easer.
Your Integrity Precedes You
Integrity defines your character. Those around you identify you as someone who can be counted on to do the right thing, whether covering for a coworker, or assisting wherever you’re needed. You can be trusted to keep confidences, which is why your patients share information with you easily, and more readily than even with their own physician. You have others’ best interest at the forefront of all you do, meaning your patient care is above reproach. This is what makes a you an outstanding nurse.
You Can Be a Better Nurse
Developing your personal code of ethics, morals, honesty and justice may take some time. Look to the reasons you felt called to a career in nursing. Examine your heart and be completely upfront with yourself. There may be areas in your life-as a person, as a nurse-that could be honed in order to develop your own integrity.
People naturally gravitate toward those individuals they believe have their best interests in sight. For a nurse, this means you can be relied upon. Trust isn’t easily given-nor earned-in today’s world. In fact, many people withhold their trust until it’s been earned, proven through the integrity of another.
When you exhibit integrity in nursing, your patients know you truly want the best for them. It’s the quickest and easiest way to earn the trust of those in your care, and those all around you. Integrity in nursing is essential to the care and healing of your patients, mind, body and soul.
Photo credit: NTNUmedicine via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC