Sunday, June 9, 2013

Is Nursing a Profession?

There was much talk in Nursing school about whether nursing was a "profession."  Much of it was centered around the fact that there were three avenues to becoming a Registered Nurse, a 3 year school of nursing, an Associate degree, or a Bachelors degree.  All three lead to the ability to sit for your boards, and everyone must take and pass the same boards.
Some felt that without a four year degree we couldn't consider nursing a "profession."
Ironically, I have often felt that the best nurses whom I ever had the pleasure of working beside were from the old three year nursing school system, which is now nonexistent or almost so.
This debate continues, with many pushing for all RNs  to have a Bachelors, Masters, or even Doctorate degree.
I support continuing higher education, but I don't think that alone can make one a good nurse.
I think part of the push for more advanced degrees and part of the debate over "professionalism" goes back to an inferiority complex in the general nursing population.
I have a friend who feels it starts in nursing school.  He says that in medical school, the students are called "doctor" from the start.  In comparison, there is a saying that "nurses eat their young." Many nurses will tell you how hard it was to get through school.  After a very rigorous process just to get into a nursing program, it is not unusual to graduate only half your class.  There is a feeling that instructors feel it is their duty to "weed out" those not acceptable to being a nurse.
When we start working we are pushed to "produce", to keep our rooms full of patients, to keep turning them over. Often there is one parking lot for doctors, one for administration, and another for everyone else, often "off campus" and accessible by shuttle bus.
We face a culture that looks at discipline as a means of improving care.
A culture that must change.
It's no wonder we feel inferior, it's no wander we eat our young, it's no wonder we talk about whether or not we are a "profession."

Nursing is a profession, and it is more than that.
It is a "vocation," which is something not all professions are, something special.

We deserve to be treated with respect and dignity because we are doing good work for our fellow man.
That dignity and respect has to start with us.  We need to treat each other in this way. We need to demand it from others. We need to end the debate and realize the truth.

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