Are We Really a Profession?

  1. In reading the literature lately, I've come across several definitions and evolutions of the term "profession," and have since conceded that based on those accepted defintions, a profession we are NOT.

    First recorded use of the word profession was in mid-fifteenth century and was defined as a "learned vocation." Later, in 1977, profession was defined as a "controlling occupation which has a status of superiority and precedence within a division of work."

    Rutty (1998) defined profession as:
    "The knowledge accessible to a particular assembly of people, the conduct that is expected from this group and the power and authority the group has over its training and/or education which takes place over a recognizable period of time, along with state registration which permits entry to be prevented by others who do not correspond to the requirements, are attributes that collectively and commonly characterize professional status within the literature. These considerations provide the means for the profession to maintain dominance over the comtemporary work situation and to decide its conditions."


    Seeing as we DON'T decide our conditions, DON'T have status of superiority and DON'T have control over our education, I have to ask...we don't even fit the definition of "profession," so are we really one?
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  2. 77 Comments

  3. by   LasVegasRN
    No. And I will continue to say that as long as there are nurses out there who still have to punch a time clock.
  4. by   globalRN
    SuzyK....you are a brave one......
    No, not as long as we have multiple entries to practice for one thing......
  5. by   Q.
    LV and Global....

    Now THOSE responses aught to get the creative juices flowin' around here.
  6. by   renerian
    You are onto something because I am finding employers sure do not view us as a profession......

    renerian
  7. by   Q.
    So, based on those definitions above, who fits into that definition?

    Medicine.
    Law.
    Law Enforcement.


    Maybe instead of "Nursing Profession" we should say "Nursing Industry" or "Nursing Business." Sort of like "computer industry" or "car business." Both of which don't regulate their own education and environment either.
  8. by   LasVegasRN
    Originally posted by Susy K
    LV and Global....

    Now THOSE responses aught to get the creative juices flowin' around here.
    Thanks for starting a great thread!
    Anytime I hear that a nurse has to punch a time clock, that degrades our "profession". Now, to add more to this debate, there are a great many of us who were taught that professionals do not and should not require UNIONS.

    Ohhhhh I can hear the blood boiling now. Don't need a flame suit, I LIKE IT HOT. pssssss.
  9. by   ResearchRN
    "The knowledge accessible to a particular assembly of people, the conduct that is expected from this group and the power and authority the group has over its training and/or education which takes place over a recognizable period of time, along with state registration which permits entry to be prevented by others who do not correspond to the requirements, are attributes that collectively and commonly characterize professional status within the literature. These considerations provide the means for the profession to maintain dominance over the comtemporary work situation and to decide its conditions."



    "The knowledge accessible to a particular assembly of people..."

    We have a specific knowledge base that is accessible only by attending nursing school.

    "...the conduct that is expected from this group and the power and authority the group has over its training and/or education which takes place over a recognizable period of time..."

    Nursing is regulated by state boards of nursing (BON), which consists primarily of nurses. The BON define expected conduct and has authority over educational standards. Educational programs are accredited by the National League of Nursing (NLN) and/or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Both of these organizations are controlled by boards which consist primarily of nurses. Therefore, nursing does have power and authority over training and/or education. Our education is not determined by physicans or anyone else. It's determined by nurses. WE just can't decide what it should be.

    "...along with state registration which permits entry to be prevented by others who do not correspond to the requirements, are attributes that collectively and commonly characterize professional status within the literature. "

    We've got state registration in every state.

    "These considerations provide the means for the profession to maintain dominance over the comtemporary work situation and to decide its conditions."


    It seems to me that we do meet all of the requirements of a profession according to this definition however.
  10. by   Q.
    Ahhhh the union thing. I saw that and kind of agreed, but didn't say anything.

    IF we were a profession, we wouldn't NEED a union, as we would have control over our own work and education and wouldn't need a third party to do it for us.

    IF we were a profession, we wouldn't NEED a union to speak FOR us as we would already be heard.

    So...yeah....unions are voices for NON-professions.
  11. by   Q.
    Originally posted by ResearchRN


    "The knowledge accessible to a particular assembly of people..."

    We have a specific knowledge base that is accessible only by attending nursing school.


    Let me play debate monger. Our knowledgebase is NOT unique to nursing. ALL of our knowledge is actually borrowed from other professions - such as medicine, psychology, etc.

    "...the conduct that is expected from this group and the power and authority the group has over its training and/or education which takes place over a recognizable period of time..."

    Nursing is regulated by state boards of nursing (BON), which consists primarily of nurses. The BON define expected conduct and has authority over educational standards. Educational programs are accredited by the National League of Nursing (NLN) and/or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Both of these organizations are controlled by boards which consist primarily of nurses. Therefore, nursing does have power and authority over training and/or education. Our education is not determined by physicans or anyone else. It's determined by nurses. WE just can't decide what it should be.


    Which indicates our LACK of control, as it's out of control, as we have the LPN, ADN, BSN and finally, RN.

    "...along with state registration which permits entry to be prevented by others who do not correspond to the requirements, are attributes that collectively and commonly characterize professional status within the literature. "

    We've got state registration in every state.


    That I will agree with. At least we have one state test - the NCLEX.

    "These considerations provide the means for the profession to maintain dominance over the comtemporary work situation and to decide its conditions."

    It seems to me that we do meet all of the requirements of a profession according to this definition.
    Except WE don't decide our work situation or conditions. NONnurses do.
  12. by   Dr. Kate
    Before accepting a definition, it is advisable to undersatnd how the words in the definition are being used. Both the modern definitions you quote are more than a bit nebulous, containing words used in ways that are open to multiple interpretations.

    In making assessments as to whether or not something meets the criteria of a definition the criteria themselves have to be defined, you have to determine if the criteria are valid, and if the stated criteria are all essential to the definition. The authority of the person creating the definition is also open to discussion. Was the definition validated in any way? If so how? Under what circumstances and conditions?
    I would suggest you continue to look for definitions of profession.
  13. by   ResearchRN
    I was taught in nursing school that nursing may or may not be a 'profession'. I think you could argue it either way. Are professional athletes really professionals?

    The Oxford English Dictionary defines profession as "The occupation which one professes to be skilled in and to follow. A vocation in which some branch of learning is used in its application to the affairs of others, or the practice of an art based upon it. Applied specifically to three learned professions of divinity, law and medicine; also the military profession."

    I've seen other definitions which require a profession to have a code of ethics (we do) and also require advanced education (we don't).
  14. by   ResearchRN
    I still disagree, SuzyK. I'm not saying I think nursing is or isn't a profession. I'm just saying depending on the definition you use you could spin it either way.

    For example, the nursing process is not borrowed from any other profession. It's entirely ours (whether it's any good or not). Also, just because we can't decide upon our education requirements doesn't mean we dont' have the control necessary to do so. We just don't exercise that control.

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