University of Technology Sydney

92434 Professional Identity

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2024 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Health
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:


Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


Students gain an understanding of what it means to be a professional in contemporary health care practice. This subject focuses attention on learning about the essential components of professional conduct. Necessary components such as the right professional attitude, knowledge about professional nursing standards, quality and safety in the workplace, and the ability to establish a strong work ethic combine to provide sound scaffolding to enable clinical leadership. Students are encouraged to appreciate their strengths as individuals helping others and work towards confidence in using their learned skills in everyday nursing experiences. It is important that students become knowledgeable in the standards required for legal and ethical practice, and equipped to use these standards when working with colleagues and patients. The concept of reflection is explored during the session and forms a major part of the assessment. Students build on their understanding of social equity in order to make sound and clear judgements.

The subject outlines nursing as a profession and explores the forces that have shaped and continue to shape nursing practice as a collaborative professional endeavour. At the core of the subject is the view that a professional disposition articulates with all subjects and that successful transition to a professional practitioner is optimised by starting the process early. Professional growth and development and personal record keeping are introduced to facilitate this process.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:
A. Demonstrate an ability to apply ethical and legal frameworks necessary for accountable nursing practice (RN Standards for Practice 1, 2 & 6).
B. Apply a person-centred approach to nursing care that respects the personal values and healthcare needs of patients (RN Standards for Practice 2, 4, 5 & 6).
C. Describe contemporary quality and safety issues in healthcare and apply system-based solutions to resolve these issues including, the nursing responsibilities for fostering a culture of safety (RN Standards for Practice 2, 6 & 7).
D. Identify the need for and establish a foundation for lifelong learning and maintaining safe clinical practice as a nurse through demonstrating professional growth and development (RN Standards for Practice 1, 3 & 6).
E. Reflect on the attributes that contribute to personal and professional growth and the ongoing development of attributes necessary to transition into a nursing professional (RN Standards for Practice 1, 3 & 6).
F. Demonstrate nursing knowledge through reading, questioning and using relevant professional and scholarly evidence to describe, explain and apply key nursing concepts (RN Standards for Practice 1, 4 & 6).

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the following graduate attributes:

  • Embody a professional disposition committed to excellence, equity and sustainability (1.0)
  • Demonstrate the characteristics and skills required for professional engagement and effective lifelong learning (1.2)
  • Practise person-centred, holistic care in which all aspects of the patient's wellbeing are considered (2.1)
  • Appreciate the value of communication to negotiate and create shared understandings as well as to develop and sustain professional relationships (3.2)
  • Inquire critically to assess a body of evidence to inform practice (4.0)
  • Demonstrate information literacy and technology skills and effectively apply these in the exercise of clinical judgement (4.1)
  • Competently apply knowledge and skills to ensure safe and effective nursing practice (5.0)

Teaching and learning strategies

In this subject, students will participate in a range of teaching and learning strategies that are designed to encourage engagement with the professional attributes that promote ethical and legal responsiveness in nursing practice, as well as in optimising the quality and safety of patient care.

Preparation Activities
To get the most out of the on-campus sessions, students are expected to complete the programmed pre-learning activities prior to attending class as these activities will form the basis of group discussion / practical activities that students will engage in during tutorial classes.

Lectures and online learning materials
This subject benefits from both the real time delivery of content and access to resources via Canvas, including podcasts, videos and learning modules. Face to face teaching enable students to quickly clarify complex descriptions and terminology, and engage with sensitive or confronting topics. Online materials include scenario-based learning, problem-based progressive case studies that unfold at the student's pace, review of literature, guildeines and policies as well as quizzes that provide instant feedback to assist in the development of students' judgement.

Case Scenarios
Students will explore a range of real-life case scenarios that depict patients/consumers and their families in clinical or community situations and relate to a combination of legal, ethical and safety issues that may present within the healthcare system. Students use these scenarios to learn concepts, interpret information, form clinical judgements and develop solutions for providing evidenced based care. Critical thinking is developed through analysis, interpretation of and reflection of the case scenarios with feedback provided through class discussion

Individual Self-reflection
Students are encouraged to develop their own plans for self development by utilising self-assessment and self-reflection of learnt experiences and applying them to improving future practice. Guided self-evaluation experiences help students recognise the connections between their prior knowledge and experiences and new information. This enables students to regulate and monitor their own learning, articulate their own learning processes, identify what they have learnt and what their learning needs are.

Regular Feedback
Facilitated in-class discussion and interactive critical-thinking based case studies provide opportunities for students to practice their
existing and newly acquired knowledge and skills which are accompanied by direct feedback and disucssion. Facilitated debrief and feedback of these activities aim to reinforce applied competence and facilitate an understanding of knowledge and/or skill gaps that
enable students to self-identify areas for development.

Simulated Activites and Debrief
The use simulated activities relating to ethical, legal and safety issues in healthcare are designed to engage students into gaining a greater understanding of the subject content. This format supports and encourages collaborative learning, critical analysis of case scenarios and the formulation, implementation and evaluation of nursing interventions. Debriefing will be carried out as part of the process to enable reflective learning and provides an opportunity for regular and timely feedback.

Content (topics)

Professional disposition
Being a nurse in contemporary society requires nurses to practice with the right knowledge, skills and attitude that collectively resembles professional conduct. Students will participate in activities designed to explore their personal values, attitudes and external influences that govern their behaviour. Students are required to integrate these with the Registered Nurse Standards for Practice, Code of Conduct for Nurses and Code of Ethics for Nurses in preparing to practice professionally, both as students and as nurses.

Professional growth, reflection and life-long learning
Students are introduced the concept of life-long learning and the importance of needing to continually reflect and grow with the right knowledge, skills and attitude as a nursing professional. Students are encouraged to begin to think like a nurse so that appropriate actions are taken in regard to patient care. Given that students have limited clinical experience, case studies will be used to trigger a nursing and patient focus for the content and to give a foundation for the lecture, podcasts, tutorials and assessments. These is turn will encourage the concept of personal growth and are set as a building block for ongoing growth and development.

Professional practice: codes, standards, guidelines and the regulation of nursing practice
Students will review how professional guidelines have evolved in the best interest of patient care and examine why standards are a necessary part of professional nursing practice. Students will apply the Registered Nurse Standards for Practice, Code of Conduct for Nurses and Code of Ethics for Nurses to case scenarios in demonstrating their understanding of the professional requirements for providing appropriate patient care.

Law and Ethics
Students will be encouraged to appreciate the centrality of the patient in their healthcare and in particular, the decision-making process. The concept of the fiduciary relationship is explored with consideration of the vulnerability of patients being a key concept when decisions regarding patient care and consent are required. Students review the principles of law and ethics as they pertain to safe professional practice in healthcare. To understand that best nursing practice involves collaboration with colleagues and using appropriate up-to-date evidence, relevant professional practice codes and standards are used as a basis for students in developing ethically and legally sound professional judgements.

Patient Safety
The importance of having a culture of safety in healthcare underpins this subject. Students will review the Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Healthcare's, National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (NSQHSS) as they apply within the context of healthcare in Australia. Students will review case studies and participate in simulated activities that are designed to have them examine the “human factors” that lead to errors in patient care and will apply individual, team and system based strategies that optimise patient safety. Applying the NSQHSS to these activities will assist in advancing student’s understanding of how nurses implement processes of quality improvement in promoting improved patient outcomes.

Non-clinical skills: Communication, Teamwork and Leadership
Students participate in tutorial activities that focus on understanding the importance of key "non-clinical" concepts and skills utilised in nursing practice including; communication, teamwork and leadership. These skills are integrated into weekly tutorial activities that require students to actively participate with their tutor and other students in gaining an informed awareness of how they promote quality nursing care and patient safety.


Assessment task 1: UTS Inherent Requirements- Group activity and presentation


The purpose of this assessment is for students to demonstrate their understanding of the UTS Inherent Requirements and the practical application to their future professional nursing practice.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, D and E

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.0, 4.0 and 5.0

Type: Presentation
Groupwork: Group, group assessed
Weight: 10%

Assessment task 2: Case-based In-class Exam


This assessment will provide students with an opportunity to reflect on the subject content and apply both the ethical and legal principles that define safe and appropriate patient care. Students will be provided with case scenarios to enable them to think critically of the issues that present for the patient and healthcare staff. It is expected that students will draw upon the subject content as well as the Registered Nurse Standards for Practice, the Code of Ethics for Nurses, the Code of Conduct for Nurses and the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards to demonstrate their understanding.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B, C, D, E and F

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.0, 1.2, 3.2, 4.0 and 4.1

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 45%

60 minutes

Assessment task 3: Case Study: Ethical Decision Making


Registered Nurses are required to make sound judgements about legal and ethical issues that impact effective and safe patient care. This assessment is designed to assist students in the development of these skills through the identification, reflection on, and application of frameworks relevant to legal and ethical issues in nursing practice.


This assessment task addresses subject learning objective(s):

A, B and F

This assessment task contributes to the development of graduate attribute(s):

1.0 and 2.1

Type: Case study
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 45%

1500 words

Required texts

Chiarella, M. & Staunton, P. (2020), Law for nurses and midwives (9th edn), Elsevier.

Recommended texts

Atkins, k., de Lacey, S., Ripperger, B., & Ripperger, R. (2020). Ethics & Law for Australian Nurses (4th edn). Cambridge University Press.

Johnstone, M. J. (2019) Bioethics: A nursing perspective (7th edn). Elsevier.

Levett-Jones, T. (2018). Clinical Reasoning: Learning to think like a nurse (2nd edn). Pearson.

Stein-Parbury, J. (2021). Patient & Person (7th edn). Elsevier Australia.


Readings and websites for this subject will be advised through announcements and will be made available through the subject 92434 in Canvas. Students will be required to become familiar with the following documents as these will be used as a regular source of reference throughout the subject:

Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Healthcare. (2017), National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (2nd edn).

International Council of Nurses (2012). The ICN Code of Ethics for Nurses.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (2018). Code of Conduct for Nurses.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (2016). Registered Nurse Standards for Practice.

Other resources

UTS Student Centre
Building 10
Monday to Friday: 9am - 5pm
Tel: 1300 ASK UTS (1300 275 887)

Details for student centres:

For other resources/information refer to the Faculty of Health website ( and Canvas at:

UTS Library
The Library has a wide range of resources, facilities and services to support you including textbooks, subject readings, health literature databases, workshops and bookable study rooms. There is also a team of librarians to help you with your questions available via online chat, phone and in person. W:, Facebook: utslibrary, Twitter: @utslibrary Tel: (02) 9514 3666.

Improve your academic and English language skills
Marks for all assessment tasks such as assignments and examinations are given not only for what you write but also for how you write. If you would like the opportunity to improve your academic and English language skills, make an appointment with the HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support) Service in Student Services.

HELPS (Higher Education Language & Presentation Support)
HELPS provides assistance with English language proficiency and academic language. Students who need to develop their written and/or spoken English should make use of the free services offered by HELPS, including academic language workshops, vacation intensive courses, drop-in consultations, individual appointments and Conversations@UTS ( HELPS staff are also available for drop-in consultations at the UTS Library. Phone (02) 9514 9733

Please see for additional information on other resources provided to students by UTS.

The Accessibility and Financial Assistance Service
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