The scope of practice refers to the procedures, actions, and processes that should be followed by a healthcare practitioner as prescribed by their professional license terms and conditions. The license is what authorizes the person to perform specific functions and in any case, a problem occurs, then it is within the boundaries of the specific professional body that the license is issued for. A registered nurse scope of practice defines the roles, functions, responsibilities, and activities that a nurse is required to deliver and is educated on them and has all the authorities to perform. The practice is accompanied by set values that a nurse is required to observe and be guided by them while delivering the care (Fairman et al, 2011).
The scope of practice for nurses as set by the responsible bodies’ specific to the area of the professional nursing practice requires that nurses work according to specific guidelines and have their boundaries within which their practice is limited according to their license (Grove et al, 2012). This is basically meant to quell issues of conflict and to enhance good working conditions for the various professional bodies that work for the same goal of healthcare delivery as the registered nurses in the healthcare centers. The scope of practice for the registered nurses is always guided by the code of professional conduct and ethics that ensures that good decision making is made with regards to the extent at which the individual registered nurse should deliver the services they are obligated to do. Some of the basic principles that guide this field of professionalism includes:
- The authority for nursing practice is mandated by the society hence the primary motive for the practice must be geared towards the overall benefit for the patients including meeting their needs while respecting and observing the dignity and rights of the patients. The patient’s safety should be promoted and that quality healthcare is driven at the doorstep of the patient’s consumption (Harper & Maloney, 2016).
- The nurse-patient relationship is fundamental in the scope of practice of the nurses as it facilitates patient autonomy, right choice and good decision making.
- Nurses are held responsible and accountable for the additional practice that is offered to the patient. Expansion of this scope of practice, therefore, comes with great responsibility and that the nurse is accountable for anything done to the patient that surpasses the boundaries within which the nurse is trained and this ensures that nurses handle patients with great care, respect, safety and reduced chances of harm (Lowe at al, 2012).
- To determine the boundaries of exercising duties for registered nurses, the nurse must make a decision on whether or not they are competent and able to perform an activity on the patient so as to minimize chances of harm caused by errors in carrying out such duties.
- There should be good communication and collaboration between the nurse and other care providers within the health care center to ensure that they consult widely over issues of concern to arrive at a good decision-making point that will ensure that the best decision is made on the expansion of the scope of practice. This ensures correctness in the final decision making on whether or not to expand the scope of practice for the nurses (Mueller et al, 2012).
The issue of the scope of practice in the nursing field need to be well addressed and clear strategies to be laid out on the scope of practice and the circumstances under which the scope of practice can be expanded. For instance in the case of Shirly where she is in dilemma and wondering about whether she is not working out of the scope of practice. The circumstances mostly compel her to work beyond the stated scope of practice as per her license and this mostly happens at night when she is left alone with the patients. Decision making for a nurse to work beyond the level to which they are authorized to do mostly depends on the circumstance. The outcome can be good most of the time but in a case where the outcome is negative, in the sense that a nurse performs a duty not listed in their scope of practice and cause a harm to the patient, a very big conflict can arise within the health center since no one would accept to be accountable for the negative outcome. At the same time, in a case where a nurse chooses to stick to only the accepted scope of work and never gives an eye to a patient requiring assistance by a different professional body, there can be harm or death to a patient especially when the nurse is left alone In the facility. This case too can lead to conflicts within the facility that can be termed as negligence. To solve this menace, all the caregivers from different areas of the profession within the healthcare facility should agree and set out standard measures on how to correct basic issues that can lead to harm on patient or loss of lives due to unavailability of the designated professional caregiver (Yee et al, 2013).
A beginning registered nurse like the case of Shirly can get a challenge when it comes to conflicts that arise as a result of the scope of practice. However, to solve this, the following leadership strategies should be developed and used appropriately so as to enable teamwork and reduce conflicts:
- Timely intervention- what causes a conflict should be identified in time and be corrected before it results in a tragedy. For instance, the parties that are deemed to conflict over a matter that is related to job specification should agree on the acceptable way of correcting things that can lead to bigger damages (Moore, 2014).
- Developing goals- the nurse and other staffs at the health facility should set out appropriate ways of resolving issues that bring about conflicts to ensure that they work hand in hand for the same goal of achieving effective healthcare.
- Conflict resolution training- the sessions should be held to ensure that issues that arouse conflicts are resolved and those that are not clear on the best way to go about them are polished to ensure no future cases of conflicts occurs. This builds the bond between nurses and encourages cohesion (Elena & Becero, 2012).
In conclusion, nursing is a critical profession that deals with the care of human life and any slight error can lead to harm that can even cause loss of lie. This is the reason as to why this area of profession requires all issues that can bring about conflicts are resolved amicably with the main purpose of ensuring that efforts that can be put in dealing with conflicts are channeled towards care delivery. Collaboration and cohesion, therefore, are key pillars in the success of this field of profession.
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