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H. Lord, B. Hughes, R. Gurbutt

University of Bolton (UNITED KINGDOM)
The development of professional values is a current issue in nursing. The newly regulated Nursing Associate (NA) education programme was developed following significant UK service failings in the past decade. A previous study had explored new students’ self-rating and associated rationale of professional values and their meaning. That showed a perceived lack of understanding of the terminology used around this. This paper reports on a further study to explore learners’ accounts of professional values to provide insights into the embodiment of these after one year of learning.

Findings revealed that respondents defined the terms about professional values (honesty, compassion, conscientious, caring, and competent) majoring on compassionate practice as allied with thinking about being person focused. Conscientious Care delivery is understood as being accountable and committed whilst Competent practice is grounded in being both accountable and educated. Honesty was defined as being truthful and open. Caring was reported as a characteristic, suggesting embodiment of a value and something that was performed, i.e. it translates intention into practice. This might indicate a ‘job to be done’ rather than an embodied characteristic. Emotions were also reported as a minor aspect of caring, perhaps indicating that learning to become professional includes keeping control of emotional expression, which is compounded by kindness reported as a minor feature in compassion and caring descriptions.

This study contributes insights for programme teams to inform curriculum interventions to develop professional values and highlights a need to have a close alignment with practice educator counterparts so that the student experience of professional values is consistent. Compared to previous research (Lord & Gurbutt 2017) this indicates that over one year students have progressed to develop a view of what a professional (NA) looks like – i.e. an accountable, committed and educated, person-focused individual who has an identity of performing care. It also suggests a learning development from understanding and performing professional values leading to internalization and embodiment by the point of registration.