Aim. The purpose of this study was to identify the most important contemporary professional nursing values for nursing clinicians and educators in Taiwan. Background. Nursing values are constructed by members of political and social systems, including professional nursing organisations and educational institutions. Nurses' personal value systems shape the development of these professional values. An understanding of nurses' perceptions of professional values will enable the profession to examine consistencies with those reflected in existing and emerging educational and practice environments. Design. A qualitative descriptive study was conducted using the focus-group discussion method. Methods. A purposive sample of 300 registered nurses in Taiwan, consisting of 270 nursing clinicians and 30 faculty members, participated in 22 focus-group interviews. Data were analysed using a systematic process of content analysis. Results. Six prominent values related to professional nursing were identified: (a) caring for clients with a humanistic spirit; (b) providing professionally competent and holistic care; (c) fostering growth and discovering the meaning of life; (d) experiencing the 'give-and-take' of caring for others; (e) receiving fair compensation; and (f) raising the public's awareness of health promotion. Four background contexts framed the way participants viewed the appropriation of these values: (a) appraising nursing values through multiple perspectives; (b) acquiring nursing values through self-realisation; (c) recognising nursing values through professional competency and humanistic concerns and (d) fulfilling nursing values through coexisting self-actualisation. A conceptual framework was developed to represent this phenomenon. Conclusion. The most important professional nursing values according to the perspectives of nurses in Taiwan were identified. These values reflect benefits to society, to nurses themselves and to the interdisciplinary team. Relevance to clinical practice. Nurses' awareness of their own values and of how these values influence their behaviour is an essential component of humanistic nursing care. Nursing educators need to develop better strategies for reflection and integration of both personal and professional philosophies and values.
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