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July 2, 2016

Nurses are ‘losing professional identity’

By Lloyd Mudiwa.

Health systems are failing nurses who are losing their professional identity, according to two decades’ worth of research into nursing policy.

Prof Michael Traynor, Professor of Nursing Policy at the School of Health, Middlesex University, conducted the research and last week addressed delegates at the 31st Annual Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery Conference held at the RCSI.

Prof Traynor said there was an “impossibly idealised expectation” among nurses about their duty in medicine and when this was not realised, they felt they were being prevented by “something beyond the system”.

He also said the powerlessness that characterised much of the nursing workforce made nurses particularly flexible in their duties, making it convenient for health systems not to tackle this issue.

In his address, he said some nurses became passive participants in care failings as a result of poor job satisfaction caused by impossible expectations.

Dr John Adams of Anglia Ruskin University, UK, also spoke on nursing ethics in Ireland based on the beliefs of Dr Percy Kirkpatrick, which emphasise the need for life-long learning, personal cleanliness and patient confidentiality.

In the future, State registration might prove necessary if nurses did not maintain the ethical standards expected of them, Dr Adams said.