As I have begun the pursuit to further my education I have been faced with the question of whether Nursing is a true profession. During the 19 years that I have been a nurse I have thought nursing was a profession but as I have learned in my reading not everyone feels this way.
For example, World Book (1999) states that there are two main groups of nurses, the professional nurses and the technique nurses. They define the professional nurses as graduates of four-year or five-year college programs and the technical nurses as graduates of two-year community colleges or the three-year hospital programs.The American Nurses Association (ANA) offers characteristics of a profession that I plan to show that nursing possesses (Hood and Leddy, 2003). Authority to control its own work is one of these characteristics (Hood and Leddy, 2003).
Although nursing is required to follow physician’s orders and the rules of the employing agency there are many ways nursing is capable of controlling his/her own work. There is a wide range of opportunity for work and intellectual growth. There is clinical work, teaching, research, and a melding of the three. There are many opportunities within each of those areas.For example in clinical work the nurse may choose from a physician’s office, health department, school system, or hospital, to name a few.
Within the hospital the nurses continues to have multiple opportunities. Some of these are medical nursing, surgical nursing, obstetrical nursing, pediatric nursing or critical nursing. As nurses we have the freedom to choose from a wide array of scheduling options, full-time, part-time, weekenders or prn. Self-scheduling is also frequently an options.
“Accountability has always been acknowledged as one of the hallmarks of a profession” (Hood and Leddy, 2003, p. 384). Nursing is accountable to the patient and family to provide the highest quality of care and the knowledge to provide this care. The nurse spends the most time with the patient and family which makes him/her accountable to the interdisciplinary health care team to share information acquired that may be pertinent to their care (Hood and Leddy, 2003). The nurse is also accountable to self for his/her own actions and the actions of co-workers. “A profession must know that for which it is accountable” (Hood and Leddy, 2003, p.
384). The ANA, The National Council of State Boards of Nursing andthe Joint Commission in Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCHCO) all set standards and mandate guidelines for nursing. Control over work performance is another characteristics of a profession (Hood and Leddy, 2003). Nurses make decisions independently about patient care on a daily bases. They assess patient’s needs and decide how these needs can best be met. The State Boards of Nursing set standards for nursing practice, professional conduct, and discipline.
Individual State Boards of nursing also monitor nurse’s performance. Shared-governance is also an important aspect of nursing.Members of the profession have the ability to judge the competence of its members. (Hood and Leddy, p. 384). Having an extensive period of formal education and training is definitely a characteristic that nursing possesses. Some argue that nursing isn’t a true profession because of the three levels of entry. I feel whether a nurse graduates from an associate program, a diploma program or a baccalaureate program that the nurse has receives a formal education and training.
Also having an exclusive body of specialized knowledge is a trait of a profession (Hood and Leddy, 2003, p. 9).As nurses we learn many things that other professions learn during their education, ex dietician, pharmacist, and physician. We are required to learn nutrition, pharmacology, and anatomy but these professions are not required to lean nursing diagnosis or nursing theory. Nursing is not just a mixture of special skills and the nurse is not just a person capable of performing these skills (“Nursing is”, 2005). In one situation the nurse may be teaching a patient to administer insulin and in the next moment he/she may be caring for a critically ill patient. This requires critical thinking and problem solving.
Thinking on one’s feet is an important part of nursing. Nurses are able to obtain certification in specialized areas of nursing practice such as med-surg certification or critical care registered nurse through the American Nurses Credentialing Commission (ANCC) (Hood and Leddy, 2003). Continuing education is also required of nurses. Ethical practice is another characteristic of a profession (Hood and Leddy, 2003, p.
9). Each individual nurse has his/her personal ethical values that affect his/her way of practice. The employing agency also has its own code of ethics.Most hospitals have an ethics committee that is available for nurses to contact if they are faced with an ethical dilemma. The ANA provides nurses with the Nurses Code of Ethics. Nursing is self-regulated by the Nurse Practice Act of the state in which one practices. Individual State Boards of Nursing regulates nursing practices. Nurses are members of these boards therefore nurses are the one’s that help make the decisions that affect nursing.
“Nursing standards for nursing, professional conduct, and discipline are determined primarily by nurses” (Hood and Leddy, 2003, p. 386).A profession exists to provide a service to the public (Hood and Leddy, 2003, p. 9). Nurses provide care to patients in a wide array of settings.
The nurse provides care for the patient in the hospital, physician’s office or in the patient’s home. One of the ways nursing provides a service to the community is through health screenings. Public acceptance is another characteristic of a profession (Hood and Leddy, 2003). Although television often portrays images less than flattering of nurses, the public generally has a positive image of nurses. Nurses are seen as caring people.The public perceives the main objective of nursing as being able to help people. Nurses have been rated at the top of all other professions for years. As nurses we have many intrinsic rewards.
I think that these rewards are probably very individualized. One reward being the satisfaction of feeling that we have helped others. It is a good feeling to help take care of sick people and assist them in the healing process. Nurses are known as being a profession that gives to others. I feel that I have shown that nursing does meet the characteristics of a profession. Nursing provides a unique service to society.Webster’s dictionary (Steinmetz, 1998) defines a profession as a vocation requiring extensive education in science or the liberal arts and often specialized training. Nursing isn’t an occupation that can be learned on the job, unlike many occupations such as a waiter/waitress, cashier, or textile worker.
As nurses we are responsible, accountable and professional. Bibliography Hood, L. J. , ; Leddy, S. K.
(2003). Leddy ; Pepper’s conceptual bases of professional nursing (5th ed. ). Philadelphia:Lippincott Williams & Wilkens. Steinmwtz, S. (Ed.
). (1998). Webster’s American Family Dictionary. New York: Random