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Professional Accountability

Professional Accountability

Sample Answer 

Professional Accountability

Professional accountability in nursing refers to the fact of a nurse being answerable for his/her clinical judgments, nursing actions, and omissions as they pertain to the requirement of competency maintenance, continued learning and providing quality and standard patient care. Although accountability is generally defined within the framework of practice by codes of practice and a standard of care, professional accountability also means that the nurse is answerable to herself/himself for their nursing actions. The professional accountability obligations of nurses span clinical expertise, the nursing process, and evidence-based practice.

Clinical expertise

As a professional, the knowledge and skill of a nurse transcend all other aspects of nursing practice, such as technology and decision support tools. As such, even in the event of malfunctions in these adjuncts of patient care, the nurse is still expected to utilize critical thinking, clinical reasoning, and clinical judgment to deliver the best possible care to the patient (Alfaro-LeFevre, 2017). Licensure means that the nurse is offered to autonomy as a professional to decide and act based on their training, judgment, and standards of care. The nurse can, therefore, leverage their professional opinion to make a decision regarding a patient. For example, if a nurse thinks that a patient on provider-prescribed Warfarin is at risk of bleeding that may endanger their life, a decision to withdraw the medication while waiting for provider input is expedient.

Nursing Process

The nursing process refers to nursing activities, including assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, and evaluation (American Nurses Association, 2015). Professional accountability requires that these activities are conducted to the best of the nurse’s skill, knowledge, and experience. While there are internal safeguards in the clinical setting that assist the nurse to deliver safe and effective care, it is possible for the nurse to make mistakes during any phase of the nursing process. Safeguards against medication errors, for instance, include the Five Rights of medication administration. In the event of an error, such as the administration of the wrong drug or to the wrong patient, professional accountability requires that the nurse remains answerable to the patient and the concerned oversight body. As a professional, the nurse should also admit when their assessment is incorrect and jeopardizes patient care.

Evidence-Based Practice

The evidence-based practice obligations of nursing relate to the nurse’s responsibility to engage in lifelong learning to maintain awareness of current efforts to improve patient care, safety, and outcomes (Saylor & Graber, 2016). Healthcare practice is a rapidly transforming field, and practice guidelines are constantly changing as new best practices emerge. Life-long learning through formal education, participation in continuing education and seminars, and reading professional journals enable the nurse to stay abreast of the latest developments in the current nursing practices. A Professionally accountable nurse should, for example, be aware of the new ANA Standard of Practice 8 on cultural competency.


Alfaro-LeFevre, R. (2017). Critical reasoning, clinical reasoning, and clinical judgment: A practical approach (6th ed.). Philadelphia: Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier.

Association, A. N. (2015). Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, Third Edition. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association.

Saylor, J., & Graber, J. (2016). Influence Through Lifelong Learning: Membership Engagement Advances the Nursing Profession. Global Nursing e-Repository.


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Professional Accountability

Outline the concept of professional accountability as it pertains to nursing. provide examples of how a nurse demonstrates professional accountability in clinical expertise, the nursing process, and evidence-based practice.
Review “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) (2010), located on the National

Professional Accountability

Professional Accountability

Academies of Sciences website.

Review the Nurse Practice Act of your home state. A copy of the Nurse Practice Act should be available on the website of your state’s board of nursing or nursing regulatory body.

Explore the “List of Nursing Organizations,” located on the website.

Explore the America Nurses Credentialing Center website. In particular, familiarize yourself with the resources describing standards of practice.

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