"sister" = registered nurse

  1. Im a male nursing student and have come across ALOT of people refering to the role of a registered nurse as "sister" and LPN as "nurse". This is in Australia so we might be abit behind the times. This happen anywhere else?

    I work in a nursing home and if a resident needs something explained or given that a LPN cant do they often say "ill just go get one of the sisters". I suppose its useful in distinguishing between nursing roles.

    Also when i tell people im studying nursing at uni they ask "wil that make you one of the sisters or a nurse". Maybe its an Aussie thing.
    •  
  2. 35 Comments

  3. by   gwenith
    It IS an Aussie thing and slowly dying out with the greater numbers of men in the profession and as the older generation who used the term slowly leave this earth.

    Originally the title "Sister" was English and given to the charge nurse of a ward but in Australia there were so few registered nurses that the title "sister" came to mean ANY registered nurse.
  4. by   MIA-RN1
    I had a patient ask me about the use of Sister just yesterday! They were from India and I think it is common there to refer to nurses (female) as Sister also. He asked me if nurses were called Sister here in America and I said other than perhaps parish nurses who are already nuns, I wasn't aware of the custom here. I asked him what were male nurses called and he said probably just by their first names. He knew military nurses (all male as females not in Indian military) and they were called by their rank.
    If I remember correctly, nurses in England used to be nuns, thus the title Sister, but then I also remember learning that early nurses were women 'of ill repute' who were put to use in hositals as well--perhaps run by nuns? I am afraid I am rusty on nursing history.
  5. by   prmenrs
    What DO you call a nurse who is in the role of a "Sister", but is a man?
  6. by   RGN1
    We still have "sisters" at our hospital, they would be called charge nurses if they were male. It's a historical title & I expect it's used in many ex British colonial countries still, as well as here. I quite like it & I'm glad we're still just that little bit antequated.

    We use the term "ward manager" for the nurse at the very head of the ward but if that ward manager is female most of us would still call her "sister", her actual title being "senior sister".
  7. by   Cherish
    I actually like that term 'sister', first time I've heard it used for female Nurses. Y wouldn't they just call male Nurses 'brother' then? Or do you guys call the doctors that (since back then doctors were predominately male)?
    Last edit by Cherish on Oct 22, '06
  8. by   AfloydRN
    Sorry... never heard of that.
  9. by   Antikigirl
    We have a few actual "Sisters" that are RN's...but that is a title of Religion as a Nun and nurse. You refer to them as "sister _____" commonly or "nurse sister _____".

    But yeah...we call LPN's LPN's and Nurses Nurses.
  10. by   oldshoes
    (since back then males were predominately male)?
    I'm pretty sure they still are!

    I always figured the Aussie "sister" thing was partly a throw-back to the days when a great many nurses were women of religious vows, and also a throw-back to the days when aligning nurses with religious women appeared to be a neccessary way to make them seem more respectable, because of course to respectable woman would choose to do work that would put her in such immodest circumstances unless she was responding to a sort of religious calling, and was completely asexual.
    Last edit by oldshoes on Oct 22, '06
  11. by   RNsRWe
    Quote from prmenrs
    What DO you call a nurse who is in the role of a "Sister", but is a man?
    Mister Sister?

    LOL
  12. by   XB9S
    Just to echo what RGN1 has already said, in the UK our ward managers and deputy ward managers are called "sister" male ward managers called charge nurse or "charge". Our nurse practitioners and night practitioners are also called "sister"
  13. by   santhony44
    I've always considered it a British usage.

    A number of years ago, a new resident physician from India walked up to the nurses' station and asked to see the "Sister."

    Everyone just gave him a blank look.

    I said "I think he wants the head nurse." He did.

    I'd read enough British fiction to have seen the term.
  14. by   traumaRUs
    What a neat thread. I work in the "hood" and if I am addressed as sistah, its just basically a term of familiarity.

    I work in an inner city, large dialysis unit and almost all of my patients are very poor.

close