A Lesson Learned

  1. Again, there is another thread started- which could be interpreted by some as passive-aggressive remarks about advanced degree nurses, and it could not. I read it and felt slightly insulted, and I responded. The thread now, appears to be taking on another ugly turn, and probably because I am involved. I sat here, after reading the replies, and started to feel exhausted again. Exhausted at feeling dismissed, put-down, not valued; all the things that nurses in general feel. I then thought back to when I was in school and when I decided to be a nurse.

    I originally was a biology major. I loved the sciences and ultimately wanted to be a scientist. I worked in an environmental lab during college doing distillations and loved what I was learning. Somewhere, back in 1991 or 1992, I made the change to nursing. I also, while I enjoyed the sciences, loved infants and newborns and had a desire to take care of them. The nursing curriculum offered enough science courses to feed my hunger for them, and, would provide me the knowledge to obtain my RN license, so, I changed majors. At that time, I knew nothing of nursing as it is today. I did not know what an LPN was. I did not know that there were diploma programs and that nurses didn't have degrees. I assumed they all did. I thought nothing of it. I thought that all nurses were RNs and nothing else.

    When I entered the curriculum, I then learned that no, not all nurses have BSNs. I learned how there used to be diploma programs, and how there are ADN programs. I learned in my management classes that, as a RN, I will most likely be delegating to other individuals to perform tasks. I learned that, as a BSN, I will be taught things that are not included in other programs. I learned that, as a BSN, I will have more opportunity to acquire positions that will possibly evoke change in the profession, or develop theories or test studies that could change how we practice. I was seeing this through the eyes of a young college student, who was eager to graduate and use what I've learned. I was eager to make a difference. Maybe my program was wrong is grooming us with this mindset, maybe it wasn't. But that is how I saw it at that time.

    I then graduated college and it was the single most proudest moment of my life. As my academic hood was placed around my neck, and as I accepted my degree, and as I saw my family sitting in the crowd, looking at me realizing all the obstacles I had overcome, all the challenges I had faced, all the hours I had worked as a lab assistant, as a receptionist and as a bus-person to pay for school, I realized at that time, all that I had accomplished - and all that I had yet to do.

    I started my nursing career in labor and delivery. I had a rough orientation, but loved learning the "skills" of L&D. I loved the challange that being an obstetric nurse provided. I joined AWHONN and attended conference after conference, read journal after journal, analyzing and critiquing the design, the method to see if I could apply it to my practice.

    It was not until I joined internet communities that I came to learn that BSNs in fact, are not always valued by other nurses. No, other nurses don't look up to you for it. No, other nurses don't admire you for it. In fact, quite the opposite. Some people perceive BSNs as lacking basic skills, as having unnecessary classes, or, worse yet, as "just letters behind your name." I hear those comments, and I think back to my graduation day, and I almost want to cry. Cry at my choice to change my major back in 1991. Cry at the innocence that was lost the moment I became a working professional nurse. Now, I am hardened, suspicious, defensive and tired. I was disenchanted with the whole division of nursing, confused as to the roles each nurse played, stunned at the remarks about bachelor's degrees in general. Nursing made me what I am now: bitter.

    I enrolled back into school because alot of the jobs I wanted as a nurse required a Master's degree. I also yearned to be back in that environment - the environment in which everyone is there to accomplish one thing - and that is to learn and to foster everyone else's learning. We read fellow graduate's theses and dissertations and are amazed at their findings and theories. We don't dismiss them or put them down because we LACK our Master's; in fact, we admire them. I have found that I can only function happily in the academic environment.

    It was a sad realization, and I guess I just realized this now, after reading some of these threads. I feel the nursing profession has done nothing to foster my growth, but only hinder it. I am constantly reminded by my fellow nurses to "put my degree aside" and "keep myself in check." Do not tell anyone of your accomplishments - because, they aren't really what matters anyway. Well, it matters to me.

    Thus, I retreat back to the hallowed halls of academia, to sequester in the quiet, somber alleys of the library filled with thousands of ideas that I have yet to discover. I find comfort in the old, creaky buildings from 1839 and the 200 year old Oak tree.

    I guess, I wrote this thread to finally put into words what I've apparently felt for some time, but never really have been able to articulate. And I guess, I feel that I've given to my profession but haven't gotten anything back. Sometimes I feel that I should've stayed with biology.

    I will make a difference in nursing, but it will not be at the bedside, I can almost guarantee you that. I will make my difference from afar, in writings and publications and research; in my ideas and theories, and, with my students. And, I feel that I am just as valuable in that regard as anyone who works at the bedside.

    I just had to say that.
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  2. 88 Comments

  3. by   mattcastens
    I certainly understand where you're coming from Susy. I very much feel the same way. Other than the IRS, I'm willing to bet that nurses are the group of people most opposed to any kind of change. The nurse's motto: "If it's a change, it must be bad."

    I'm off to become a clinical nurse specialist. Off to work at a job where I can make change and do research that validates what I do. I'm off to learn ... and remove myself from the battlefield that is bedside nursing.

    Of course, I have to get my bachelor's degree first. I know I'll be reviled in the nursing community for it, but I don't care. I happen to value education.
  4. by   RNPD
    Susy, I also agree with you-and if it helps any, I ADMIRE the fact that you worked hard enough to get a BSN. It is something I would like to have, but at my age and with my life circumstances, not willing to work for at this time. Maybe someday, maybe never. But I believe a BSN is valuable, and something to strive for and then be proud of. I think the profession as a whole needs to change its way of thinking and encourage young people to be not only RNs but BSNs. (But leave us older folks as is, please!)

    I think those that put down advanced learning are intimidated by it, and defensive that they lack it. It somehow makes them feel less as a person, why I don't know. I can sit and converse with PhDs, MDs and NPs and not feel anything but a common bond which is our humanity. I don't define myself or anyone else by the letters behind their name-whether those letters indicate more or less formal education than my own. But neither do I dismiss it as unworthy, or worse yet, worthless. I am proud of who I am and what I do, not what I have learned or where. That's all just a part of ME and I'm very happy to BE me!

    My only disagreement with your ideas is that for me, personally, I would stay at the bedside, no matter how advanced my degree. That is, for as long as I physically can. It would surely be nice to have that degree to lean on when Ii can't trust my legs or my stamina any longer. Right now I'm OK-and believe me I am much older than you! When the day comes that I am forced (and I will have to be FORCED!) to leave the bedside, I'll deal with it,

    My final message, be proud of who you are, and what you have accomplished. You don't need anyone to validate you as a nurse or more importantly as a human being, except yourself!
  5. by   RNPD
    I also wanted to tell you on that "other" thread that I don't see what Ken said-I don't feel that you throw your degree around. It's impossible to have a normal converstion w/o speaking of it. I don't feel intimidated by you and I don't have a BSN, so don't let it bother you.
  6. by   Q.
    I just want to thank everyone for their replies. I've gotten quite a few private messages, which I appreciate, but it's sad that these same people don't feel comfortable posting out in the open, if applicable.

    I also want to clarify: this thread is NOT intended to be a "pat ole Susy on the back." I am not looking for someone to bow down in front of me and start singing psalms of praise. I was feeling the need to express myself - not really anticipating any replies. RNPD you are right - the only validation should come from myself, and it does. Actually, I don't need much validation, but I can only take so many put-downs in one day.

    I guess, the point is, nursing as a whole is oppressed. But often, in that argument, what is left out are RNs and BSNs and MSNs, and nurses who don't do bedside care! In that very thread, RNPD, that I was referring to, someone even stated that RN means automatic recognition. It doesn't. You know that, and I know that. Even worse, is a BSN. Make one mention of it, make one mention of how you value it and what it did for you, and you are seen as elitist. It's almost un-PC to hold the degree.

    I want that to stop. I don't want RNs to have to remain silent or post words of support only on private messages. I don't want BSNs to feel scared to even mention it. That is all I want.
  7. by   fergus51
    I see nothing wrong with nurses being proud of their accomplishments and that includes their education level. I don't understand why a nurse with an LPN or ADN sees a BSN nurse's pride in her degree as an insult to them. I also worked hard to get my BSN and I am proud of that (just like an LPN or ADN nurse should be proud of her hard work). I hope one day to get my Masters and I will be very proud of that when it happens.

    We need to stop being so threatened by eachother that we can't be happy for eachother's accomplishments. Why shouldn't a nurse be as proud of her education as she is of her experience? I don't get it. When a nurse with years of experience is proud of that we all accept that. But, when someone with a BSN or MSN is proud of their education they are automatically called elitist or reminded that those are "just letters". Why?
  8. by   SKM-NURSIEPOOH
    Originally posted by RNPD


    ....My final message, be proud of who you are, and what you have accomplished. You don't need anyone to validate you as a nurse or more importantly as a human being, except yourself!
    I believe that this is the overall message that the LPNs here were trying to convey! Everyone should be proud of what they've accomplished in their nursing career, no matter what level.

    Quote: from GreytNurse:

    ... yes, some of you have ADNs......some (we heard it a zillion times) have your BSNs.......some working on MD or PhDs.......hey, I'm glad... I have my ADN, but "I'm just an LPN.....certified mind you, but still just an LPN.........I'M DARN PROUD......just as Proud as your BSN. WE ARE NURSES, DARN-IT. American Nurses, caring for our sick and elderly! Let's all unite......
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    What GreytNurse met here was for all nursing, no matter your level, should unite & work together for the betterment of the patient!


    Quote: from GreytNurse:

    ...put aside the crappy little initials behind OUR name. WE all need each other in order to provde quality, top-notch nursing care. From the PCT to the CNA to the LPN to the RN to the MD. It takes ALL OF US, working together, respecting the job the OTHER does. Not waving the credentials around like a neon banner...
    ---------------------------------------------------

    In otherwords, some nurses do get some satisfication out of bragging about their achievements at the expense of those nurses whom didn't accomplished the same amount of education. Otherwords, there are SOME people here who sound like they're snobs, plain & simple. I believe that the comment: "...waving the credentials around like a neon banner" where directed towards THOSE SNOBBY individuals.

    Please note in the above quotation, GreytNurse has included herself (LPNC) as well as other LPNs in the message, hence the "...OUR names" & the "WE ALL..."; but once again, people has read this post as being inflammatory, jumped the gun, & went off the handle; accusing it as "attacking" advance practice nursing or nurses, but it didn't.
    ---------------------------------------------------

    Quote from GreytNurse:

    ..."NURSE".....that title makes me PROUD! Hospitals aren't what they once were either. Everybody has staffing problems and this effects the most important person.......YOUR PATIENT!
    ----------------------------------------------------

    The original intent of this thread & post was to elaborate on 1) why her original post topic was closed because just when there was a breakthrough, that's when it was closed and 2) she wanted to make ammends with those nurses that were upset with her regarding the topic from the other thread.

    Again, it was never intended to attack the "advanced level" nursing & nurses. People here tend to react & be so defensive instead of being reflective & responding; if you personally didn't subscribe to the poor behaviors that the thread was pertaining to, then you have nothing to worry about. But if you were one of those individuals who did subscribe to the unprofessional name calling arena (LPNs or RNs), then you have something to answer to...that's all. Too many here have trouble with listening to each others' convictions & feelings & become either offended, upset, or angery at what the other is saying to even get their message...too many here have the "me" or "I" syndrome...it's ashame.

    There are so many qualified nursing professional here (& I don't just mean professional level degrees), with a wealth of knowledge & experience from either practicing their nursing craft over the years to having extra years of schooling. We can all learn from each other & unite!
  9. by   zumalong
    I believe that we are, at times, our own worst enemy. I have just finished my bachelors in nursing. I worked very hard for it and I am proud of my accomplishment. I am not afraid to post here.

    I was a good nurse as an LPN, I was a good nurse as an ADN and I will be a good nurse as a BSN. I did not work so hard for the last 2 years to make someone who has not gotten their degree feel bad. I did this for me. I do not believe that my little diploma is going to change the course of nursing. I work in education so most of the staff has their master's degree. Does this make them better nurse educators???? Not some of them!!!

    When everyone who is a nurse realizes that we all want to help our patients in one way or another, then we will begin to be respected. I said begin. There can never be the respect we feel we deserve because sometimes we don't respect each other.

    I do not think it really matters if you have any special degree. I believe that the diploma programs turned out the most competant bedside nurses--but these programs are few and far between these days and not likely to return. I once worked for a horrid surgical nurse supervisor who told me nurses are a dime a dozen/ a baker's dozen. He got fired:chuckle :chuckle

    We are in a situation where no one is going to ring our bell but ourselves. So no matter what level of school you have---you make a difference to someone.:kiss
  10. by   fergus51
    Why is it bragging and snobbery for a nurse to be proud of her education? Nurses are such a discouraged bunch I say be proud of whatever you can, whether it be education, experience, fashion sense, cooking ability, scrub patterns, whatever!! I wish people would realize that pride in your accomplishments doesn't equal insults to someone else. Be proud, be happy with yourself and encourage others to be proud and happy with themselves.
  11. by   Q.
    I read Gretynurse's post and I thought it was a wonderful idea; but I obviously wasn't the only one who felt that SOME of the comments were...slightly underhanded. I thought I replied respectfully to her, disagreed with her, and then went on to post more on what she originally intended. Or so I thought?

    What was wrong with just simply telling her that I don't think they are just letters, and to just NOT talk about it in a thread designed to unite? I voiced my respectful disagreement and moved on. But for some reason, that rubs people the wrong way. Why?

    I honestly only referred to my BSN in an effort to point out that BSNs do do bedside care. Part of the put-downs towards BSNs are that they are "above" bedside care and they are not. It is a misnomer. If someone acts "above" bedside care, it has more to do with the individual than the BSN. THAT is my point.

    And yes, many times nurses point out years of experience, extra certifications, areas they've worked or skills they can do - and we accept it. Why is pointing out education seen as elitist? Someone please help me here because I want this to STOP.
  12. by   Q.
    Originally posted by fergus51
    I wish people would realize that pride in your accomplishments doesn't equal insults to someone else. Be proud, be happy with yourself and encourage others to be proud and happy with themselves.
    Here, here!

    And also...comments, whether they are from an LPN or an RN, about one's usefulness or worth should NOT be tolerated. And those who choose to defend themselves against such comments should not be seen as evil.
  13. by   RNPD
    GreytNurse's first thread was closed, and now this latest one has been closed as well-and there is a reason. I would like to respond to some of the things she said, but I respect the moderator's decision to close the thread, since it was starting to get as bad as the first. So although I had the quote from her all typed out I refrained from posting it here, since that would defeat the purpose of closing the thread. But apparently some people just can't let it go.


    "quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Originally posted by RNPD


    ....My final message, be proud of who you are, and what you have accomplished. You don't need anyone to validate you as a nurse or more importantly as a human being, except yourself!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I believe that this is the overall message that the LPNs here were trying to convey! Everyone should be proud of what they've accomplished in their nursing career, no matter what level. "-SKM-NURSIEPOOH


    No one is saying that an LPN shouldn't be as proud as a BSN.
    Unfortunately, the LPN referred to here DOES seem to need the validation of others-particularly those with advanced degrees. Otherwise why so defensive? Why continue to post-especially in a General disscussion area-about how they will never be accepted and how RNs just don't get it?

    If we all truly just do the jobs at the levels our education prepared us for, and respect each other's work and acomplishments as meaningful, we would all get along. No one has to be better, all work is equally important.
  14. by   Q.
    Well, if this thread gets closed, then it gets closed. I was venting my feelings, my realizations, my conclusions about the nursing profession. I may be seen as bitter, and I guess I am. I felt I was a bright young professional, who was beaten down by my very colleagues.

    My license will NEVER be just letters. My degree will NEVER be just letters. They probably always will be to some people, and that's fine I guess; I can't change the world. But I can make a difference in MY life. And, as nurse who will have her Master's degree in 3 years, I proudly say, I will NOT be less a nurse for it!

    And, as Fergus stated, in a profession as oppressed as ours, be proud of whatever you can! I want to stand on a mountain-top and cry out:

    Yes, I am a BSN. I do bedside care, I have "wiped butts" and emptied bedpans. I CAN start IVs and am good in skills. I am proud of my accomplishments and the accomplishments of my colleagues. I look to my colleagues for guidance, advice, and knowledge. I am a nurse who wants to make a change in the profession for the better. I am not lazy nor bossy. I work hard and have worked hard. I will continue to work hard. I may not always work at the bedside, but I will still be an important part of the nursing profession.

    I want to dispell all myths and misconceptions about nurses, but in particular, about RNs and about BSNs.
    Last edit by Susy K on Mar 30, '02

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