McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Nursing students make a strong commitment to professionalism

By Amanda Boundris
Published: April 5, 2011
Evita Lewis and Lindsay Howitt
Evita Lewis, left, and Lindsay Howitt, first-year students in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) program

First-year McMaster University nursing students made a public commitment to professionalism in their nursing studies and practice on April 4 at the inaugural Level 1 Professionalism Pledge Ceremony for the McMaster Mohawk Conestoga Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) program.

Associate Dean of the School of Nursing (SON) Catherine Tompkins and Janet Landeen, assistant dean of undergraduate nursing education programs, spoke to the crowd about the importance of professionalism among student nurses and the significance of the pledge.

"You, as nursing students, are all developing members of our profession," said Tompkins, adding that nursing is one of the most trusted professions in society. "Trust doesn’t just happen; it develops over time because of what we see in the other person and how we react. People trust nurses because they work to develop that trust and we must always work to keep that trust."

Landeen added that becoming a professional means something more than attending university, and that "We talk about becoming a nurse and a set of expected behaviours that goes along with that."

The SON’s Professionalism Task Force has worked for the past two years to create the pledge ceremony with the goal to embed student commitment in the core values of nursing into the program. Landeen said that after their first year, student nurses have had time to explore nursing and what it means to be a nurse, so it is a fitting time to declare their commitment.

The pledge enables each student to legitimize their role as a learner in a professional program, and represents entry into the nursing profession and their lifelong commitment to uphold the standards and values of the profession, such as integrity, honesty, respectfulness and accountability. Tompkins explained that students will be increasingly asked to portray these values as part of their profession and as they continue their studies.

Standing and reciting the pledge together, 138 students agreed to "demonstrate the professional behaviours reflective of a learner committed to developing myself as a professional nurse within the global community."

First-year students Lindsay Howitt and Evita Lewis were asked to speak at the event because they "epitomize professional behaviours," said Tracey Jewiss, assistant professor in the SON and event organizer.

"The ability to help those in need without a second thought, without a shadow of a doubt, is nursing," remarked Howitt.

Lewis said: "You are here today because you felt a calling to nursing. You felt a calling towards transforming care, transforming lives, transforming health care, and transforming nursing as a whole. Nursing is care that goes beyond the norm because it includes advocating, reassuring, and preventing illness."

To conclude the ceremony, each student was given a crest as a symbol of their commitment. Developed in collaboration with Mohawk and Conestoga Colleges, it is made up of the colours of all three sites, portrays learning in the centre, represents unity among its members, and reflects the nursing school’s Kaleidoscope Curriculum.

The Level 1 Pledge Ceremony will take place at the Conestoga and Mohawk sites on April 5.

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