Is Nursing a Profession?
What is a profession? According to one definition a profession is an occupation that is based on a complex set of skills and knowledge that is used in the service of others. This definition also says that the members of this occupation abide by a code of ethics and commit themselves to competence, integrity, morality and many other qualities that promote public good (Cruess, Johnston, & Cruess, 2004, p. 74). According to this very definition, nursing is a professional occupation. The registered nurse receives a formal education with completion of a thorough and comprehensive knowledge base. Registered nurses use their knowledge to provide care and service to those entrusted to them. The American Nurses Association (ANA) originally began developing standards of clinical nursing practice in 1960 (Fritzsche, 2008). The first set of standards was published in 1973 and was later revised in 1991 (Fritzsche, 2008). Registered nurses are held accountable to those standards. State boards of nursing monitor licensure of registered nurses and ensure continuing education throughout the nurse’s career. Ongoing continuing education ensures that registered nurses remain knowledgeable regarding issues pertaining to the healthcare setting. Knowledge
Nursing is a profession that constantly enlarges the body of knowledge it uses. It imposes a lifelong obligation of learning to remain current in order to “do no harm” (Blais & Hayes, 2011). Registered nurses are held accountable by their individual state boards of nursing to earn a certain number of continuing education credits to maintain active licensure. Many employers offer opportunities for continuing education courses, as do many of the boards of nursing. Registered nurses also have a Code of Ethics that was developed by the American Nurses Association to ensure quality care and professional nursing ethics (Schroeter, 2014). Many registered nurses seek specialization during their career. These specialty areas or certifications require ongoing education through certification units. Many certifications require attending conferences and lectures to maintain competency. The ever growing knowledge base and the plethora of ways for a nurse to expand their skill set ensure that a nursing professional is nearly always prepared for any given situation. This commitment to competence helps nursing begin to fall under the aforementioned definition of a profession. Education
Pursuing a higher level education is extremely important for the registered nurse. According the IOM report, recommendations were made that eighty percent of nurses be baccalaureate prepared and that doctorate prepared nurses should double by the year 2020. IOM report (as cited in Chard, 2013). Registered nursing has always required continued learning, most of which is now completed in institutes of higher learning. In earlier years, though many diploma programs were offered, most were taught in hospitals. During the nursing shortage years ago, associate degree programs were created and made available at community colleges. Baccalaureate degree, master’s degree, and doctorate degrees are available at the university level. While the entry level for the professional nurse remains a controversy, one cannot argue that the field does require education from institutions of higher learning. In the future, the proposed entry level for a professional nurse is preferably at the baccalaureate level. Diploma level programs have all but vanished and many project that associate degree programs will eventually diminish as well. These many certifications and degrees help nurses better service the public, further supporting the argument that nursing is a profession.
Professional nursing is governed by a code of ethics that dictates the client/professional relationship. The American Nurses Association developed the Code of Ethics that all nursing professionals are to practice by (Fritzsche, 2008). Practice standards, scope of practice standards and guidelines, statutes, rules and regulations also ensure that the professional nurse has adequate resources to ensure ethical practice (Graner, 2011). Every state board has a Nursing Practice Act. This act protects those patients who require care. The act was initiated over one hundred years ago and is amended as the scope of practice changes ("Nurse Practice Act," 2014). Not only does the nursing code of ethics dictate how to care for a patient in medical terms, it also defines the style in which a nurse should treat their patient in social terms. Bedside manner is a large part of many medical professions, but even more so in nursing. This comprehensive moral and ethical code holds each nurse accountable to the public and enforces a level of integrity that again easily lists nursing as a profession on any list. Qualities
Professional nursing appeals to individuals with intellectual and personal qualities and envision the service provided to the sick as their life’s work and not just as their occupation. Most nurses as a whole value professional collaboration with their coworkers and have faith in their skills as nurses. Nurses continually learn from their occupational tasks. Nursing interaction helps nurses not only to learn things about nursing, but things about themselves. Nursing has been said to contribute to personal growth and self-concept (Hoeve, Jansen, & Roodbol, 2014). Nurses generally identify themselves as caring individuals. Most nurses respond to the question of why they chose nursing as a career as a want to care for others, to help others, or to feel responsible for others. Nurses also value the confidential association between themselves and their patient and believe the relationship should be built upon trust and respect (Hoeve et al., 2014). Autonomy and Opportunity
Nursing is autonomous, provides opportunities for continuous professional growth and financial security. Professional nurses make autonomous decisions every day in caring for patients. Decisions are made based on the rationale obtained from their knowledge base. This knowledge base is learned from both their education along with ongoing continuing education that is required to practice nursing. Professional nurses have opportunities for continuous professional growth. Educational offerings and required learning are available through various organizations. Nurses may specialize through obtaining specialty certifications. Nurses enjoy economic security. Unfortunately, people will always experience illness. This creates a need for competent medical staff, including nurses. In my opinion, nursing is one of the most recession proof occupations around. The fact that hospitals are nearly always at capacity and that there will always be sick people requiring care simply affirm the belief that bedside nursing will always be in demand. Profession
Nursing is definitely a profession. Individuals come into the field with the desire for a lifelong career. Nursing entails continual learning throughout the span of the occupation. Nurses understand that they are in the public eye and must live up to the expectations of those whom they provide care to. In a 2013 Gallup poll survey, nurses were ranked the highest above all other professions for their honesty and ethical standards ("Honesty/Ethics," 2013). Nurses enjoy caring for others and take the nurse/client relationship seriously. Ethical behavior guides the nurse’s everyday practice. Nurses enjoy the opportunities for various practice areas and also specialty certifications. Nursing provides the individual with the knowledge that there is job security within the profession. With all of these attributes, nursing is one of the best professions to pursue.
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