A Nurse’s Professional Identity

Topic: Nursing
Words: 1428 Pages: 6

Professional Identity Overview

A nurse’s professional identity is defined by the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics. Aside from embracing these regulations, a nurse commits to continuous learning, serving the people, and obtaining various degrees and certificates (Pullen, 2021). The notion of lifelong learning and improving their skills is a specifically vital question of a nurse’s professional identity. By conforming to the unceasing broadening of their horizon, a nurse ensures that they stay on top of cutting-edge research and new developments in practice and technology. This, in turn, ensures that their patients receive the utmost efficient and effective treatment possible, and new inventions unburden the nurse’s work.

A nurse’s professional identity is constituted of understanding themselves as a nurse. It includes experience in practice and an understanding of what their role entails. It is not only an attribute that a nurse possesses but also a process, as the identity tends to develop and change with time (Rasmussen et al., 2021). In addition to that, a nurse’s professional identity means taking on leadership roles. Taking these roles allows nurses to undertake evidence-based practices and research, improve quality, intake of information, care for patients, and patient safety (Pullen, 2021). It also requires them to develop a sense of respect for cultural contexts and improve their collaboration abilities in a workspace, allowing for efficient communication, adequate resource allocation, and care for the environment.

Professional Identity Factors

There are three factors that contribute to the nurse’s professional identity: the self, the role, and the context. To be able to identify themselves professionally, nurses should have a secure and certain sense of themselves. Without this sense, they are prone to tension and stress (Rasmussen, 2018). The self aspect of professional identity also includes a feeling of belonging and fitting. The role aspect is closely connected with the self factor. It concerns what professional boundaries the nurse has, and the elevation of these boundaries, i.g., the broadening of their skills and authority, leads to better performance. It also promotes the nurses’ confidence and feeling of empowerment. These qualities are imperative to fulfill the nurse’s role of using a wide range of skills, sound judgment, and resolution of issues.

The context factor represents the location of the nurse’s activity. The context within which their actions are placed affects the nurses’ perception and understanding of their professional identity (Rasmussen, 2018). This aspect is affected by other factors, while other aspects of the identity rely heavily on this aspect and each other. Each and every one of these factors are strongly interconnected. The context consists of a variety of elements: organizational and professional policies, local guidelines, and protocols, for example. It also includes resources and structure provided by the facility, consisting of preceptorship, orientation, technology, support, and education. A welcoming workspace helps nurses integrate into the workflow and the team quickly and efficiently. It also helps establish a nurse’s confidence and a feeling of belonging among peers.

Professional Identity Formation Challenges

There are several challenges that can hinder the establishment of a nurse’s professional identity. The first of them is negative role models, examples of problematic or inappropriate behavior rewarded or encouraged by peers or authorities. Increased work hours and workloads without necessary training also negatively impact professional identity. Another challenge is represented by the lack of a reward system that allows the nurse to feel the impacts they are making (Keshmiri et al., 2020). Problems with giving and receiving feedback are also considered barriers to the development of a nurse’s identity. A hidden curriculum, which refers to unwritten rules and expectations or unofficial values and norms, also presents a serious challenge.

Professional Identity Enhancement Strategies

In order to enhance a nurse’s professional identity formation, several strategies can be employed. First of all, a nurse can develop a personal philosophy of nursing. It describes a person’s values and beliefs regarding nursing, health, the environment, and so on (Pullen, 2021). The most efficient way to create a nursing philosophy statement is to ask yourself several questions relating to the most critical aspects of the nursing profession. For example, what is the most important goal of the nursing profession? Next, a nurse can opt to become more involved in professional nursing organizations, for example, the National Student Nurses’ Organization. Nurses can familiarize themselves with clinical practice, research, and administration standards by working in such organizations.

Another way to enhance professional identity is to seek leadership opportunities. For nurses, it is imperative to establish themselves as fair and just leaders from the beginning of their journey. Leadership can be practiced in various professional areas, such as teaching, management, and community activities (Pullen, 2021). Acquiring advanced degrees and certificates is also helpful in improving professional identity. These documents should be in the field that the nurse desires to permeate or in which they want to exhibit proficiency. Competence is an essential part of a nurse’s skill set, and it can be achieved only by continuous learning of the ever-developing sphere of health and nursing.

Influences on the Nursing Profession

The profession of a nurse is essential to the entire structure of the healthcare system. A nurse must develop a professional identity in order to fulfill certain requirements that influence the nursing profession as a whole. A nurse plays the role of not only somebody who checks the vitals, updates patients’ medical records, and helps the doctors in other ways. Through the development of professional identity, nurses are able to take on a role of an educator, a person who provides the patients with information on how to regain their health and independence. In addition, they are able to counsel the patients, use their experience to advocate for change, and carry out or participate in scientific research.

Impact on Advanced Practice Role

Professional identity has a significant impact on advanced practice roles in nursing. Several similarities have been established among advanced practice nurses that directly correlate with strategies that are used to enhance a nurse’s professional identity, which includes working in foreign places and obtaining leaders positions. The development of nursing professional identity contributes to the movement towards management, the obtention of knowledge, and degrees post-graduation (Kerr & Macaskill, 2020). While nurses obtain their new degrees, several problems arise, including a learning curve, a sense of disconnect, and a lack of confidence. These problems can occur independently of a nurse’s qualification and time spent in the academic space, and sometimes lengthy learning process even contributes to them. Professional identity helps solve these issues by establishing more precise goals and eliminating or reducing self-doubt.

In addition, professional identity helps develop higher standards for patient care among advanced practice nurses. An example of this is when a patient’s examination takes plenty of time while the delays lead to patient dissatisfaction. This dichotomy creates tension and stress within the healthcare environment (Kerr & Macaskill, 2020). The establishment of professional identity allows for balancing these two aspects harmoniously and, in case this is impossible, reduces stress caused by the disbalance. Another impact of professional identity is the centralization of the nurse-patient therapeutic relationship. It creates a level of carefulness among nurses; however, this carefulness is propelled by confidence and experience.

Impact on Interprofessional Team

A nurse’s professional identity helps them in a plethora of ways within an interprofessional team. First of all, it allows them to navigate the cultural and personal contexts of communication (Pullen, 2021). Developing cultural sensitivity means potentially eliminating such problems as barriers to communication and lack of engagement in the workplace. Nurse leaders, enabled by their professional identity, strive to create and enforce policies and guidelines that set proper and just behavior. They also work to establish a working environment where there is no place for discrimination and bullying. In this case, being culturally sensitive entails being aware of what contributes to discrimination and discomfort in different cultures.

When nurses form their professional identity, they determine what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable and the appropriate consequences for misbehavior. This evaluation is impossible without nurses being able to provide and receive feedback. A nurse’s recognition and acceptance of the self factor helps them engage in fulfilling and fruitful communication (Rasmussen et al., 2021). A professional identity allows feedback and communication to be informative, practical and welcomed. It also helps to accept and request the reflection of others on their work. Therefore, the impact of professional identity on an interprofessional team stems from it providing sufficient communication and a greater understanding of team members. In addition, nurses are able to ensure a thorough allocation of resources and information within an area or the system.


Keshmiri, F., Farahmand, S., Bahramnezhad, F., & Hossein-Nejad Nedaei, H. (2020). Exploring the challenges of professional identity formation in clinical education environment: A qualitative study. Journal of Advances in Medical Education & Professionalism, 8(1), 42–49.

Kerr, L., & Macaskill, A. (2020). Advanced Nurse Practitioners’ (Emergency) perceptions of their role, positionality and professional identity: A narrative inquiry. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 76(5), 1201–1210.

Pullen Jr, R. L. (2021). Professional identity in nursing practice. Nursing Made Incredibly Easy, 19(2), 55–56.

Rasmussen, P., Henderson, A., Andrew, N., Conroy, T. (2018). Factors influencing registered nurses’ perceptions of their professional identity: An integrative literature review. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 49(5), 225–232.

Rasmussen, P., Henderson, A., McCallum J., & Andrew, N. (2021). Professional identity in nursing: A mixed method research study. Nurse Education in Practice, 52, 103039.

EBP Beliefs and Implementation in Doctor of Nursing Practice Students
Evidence-Based Practice and Collaboration in Nursing