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Reflection – Professional Identity as a Student Nurse

Reflection – Professional Identity as a Student Nurse

As a student nurse, I used to think of professional identity as something that one needs to achieve or have when in practice. However, based on what I have learned and experienced so far, I have realized that developing a professional identity in nursing is a process. It is a lifelong process that starts the moment a person enrolls in nursing school and continues throughout their life in professional practice. Developing a professional identity as a nurse may be challenging as it is not conceptually defined. However, as Vabo et al. (2022) argue, a nursing student’s professional identity is a concept built on the individual’s personal identity that begins from childhood and continues to develop for the rest of their life.

As a student nurse, I view professional identity from multiple perspectives. Firstly, based on what I have learned so far, a professional identity, regardless of whether I am a student or in professional practice, is the commitment to abide by the core values of nursing. Having a professional identity as a student nurse goes beyond being technically competent as a nurse to having a clear understanding and grasp of the core values of the nursing profession. A nurse is required to be compassionate, empathetic of others, respectful of the dignity of others, and a person of integrity. As a nursing student, I understand that having a professional identity is based on my actions, interactions, and how I connect with others within and outside of my practice settings.             Secondly, a professional identity as a student nurse is all about understanding the core ethical principles and codes of conduct in nursing and internalizing these principles and codes to guide one’s learning process during clinical practice and later nursing practice. From the start of nursing school and education, we are all introduced to the ethical codes of conduct in nursing and booklets from the American Nurses Association (ANA). Continuously reviewing these ethical codes of conduct has helped me understand the basic irreconcilable ethical principles that guide nursing and what is expected of me. I now understand that professional identity is being able to consider these internalized ethical principles and codes of conduct in making decisions even when faced with ethical dilemmas.

Another understanding of what it means to have a professional identity as a nursing student is how I take responsibility and accountability for my decisions, actions, and the well-being of others.       One thing that I have learned defines a nurse as being responsible and accountable for others. This, to me, means being knowledgeable of the roles of nurses, how to utilize evidence to support decision-making, and actively advocating for practices and policies that ensure the safety of care services, improving the quality of care, and the accessibility of care to everyone. Additionally, having a professional identity as a nursing student is the desire to gain more knowledge to grow personally and professionally.

Subsequently, one thing about having a nursing career is that nurses are expected to engage in lifelong learning through continuing professional development (Mlambo et al., 2021). I have come to understand that nursing is a very dynamic profession. One is expected to continuously learn new ideas related to caring for others throughout their career. From my experiences during my clinical practice sessions, I have learned that each day in practice and every encounter with a patient, a fellow student, clinical mentors, and other healthcare professionals within practice settings gives us new insights into patient care delivery and how to interact with patients and other people. We continuously learn new things that improve our competencies as a nurse. It is this willingness and openness to learn new things about nursing practice that I so far understand a part of a professional identity in nursing.

Lastly, and most importantly, the meaning of professional identity as a student nurse is related to the nursing aspect of lifelong learning. In this case, it means focusing on developing non-technical nursing competencies, especially cultural competence. I have learned that being a nurse means providing care to those who need it regardless of their cultural, economic, or social background. To my understanding, being culturally competent is an important part of a nurse’s professional identity as it enables them to provide non-discriminative care to everyone who needs it. It enables a nurse to serve diverse populations and still be able to provide care personalized to each individual’s needs. Therefore, professional identity is acknowledging the unique differences patients may have that are not aligned with my views but still being able to provide inclusive care to such patients. Conclusively, professional identity is a continuous process that requires a commitment to the core values, ethics, and codes in nursing, having responsibility for the well-being of others, and engaging in continuous learning to advance one’s skills in caring for diverse populations.


Mlambo, M., Silén, C., & McGrath, C. (2021). Lifelong learning and nurses’ continuing professional development, a metasynthesis of the literature. BMC Nursing, 20(1), 1–13.

Vabo, G., Slettebø, Å., & Fossum, M. (2022). Nursing students’ professional identity development: An integrative review. Nordic Journal of Nursing Research, 42(2), 62–75.


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Professional Identity as a Student Nurse

Professional Identity as a Student Nurse

Reflection in 500-1000 words on what it means to you to have a professional identity as a nursing student.

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