Here we go.
In New York State, a law was passed after someone calling herself a "baby nurse"--someone the parents of a newborn thought was a nurse, go figure---was responsible for the death of that newborn infant. Far from a nurse, the woman was minimally grade school educated and ignorant of even CPR. She was a babysitter, and a poor one it turned out.
"Baby nurses" are still found around the country, typically in areas that don't offer a protected title, and are still found at the heart of lawsuits. There ARE legal "baby nurses" that ARE nurses, of course, and specialize in newborn care. This isn't what I'm talking about.
When I call a medical office and ask to speak with a nurse, if I have a question about a particular medication, I DO NOT want to have "the office nurse" give me information. She is not a nurse. She's either the Medical Assistant or receptionist, but she's not a nurse....and MANY people take her information and/or advice as coming from A NURSE. I have personally, first-hand seen the dangers of this. The senior citizen gets off the phone thinking they talked to a nurse and should/shouldn't take their usual med today based on that conversation....and the person telling them what to do has NO business saying a single word on the subject. Or how about when that nice old lady receives all kinds of great advice on how to treat a minor injury, or pain, or whatever...and is completely lied to? Oh, the "office nurse" didn't mean to lie, but she sure as heck didn't offer her advice with the disclaimer "but I have absolutely no medical education whatsoever", now did she?
You're in the hospital, and you ask for your nurse. Someone comes in the room, saying "I'm your nurse" and you ask questions about your surgery, your care, your treatment, your meds, whatever. The person in front of you answers all your questions, then walks away. Later you find out it was a CNA who knows NOTHING of what she described, but THINKS she does. She THINKS because she's watched the nurses at work for five years, SHE is "practically" a nurse herself. And then the REAL nurse has to spend the next hour correcting the damage the "nearly/almost/as good as nurse" did.
Should the title be protected? You bet your sweet arse! The examples I give are reasons it protects the PUBLIC. I'm not even going near the anger some of us (most?) feel when we find that someone with not even a clue presents as someone in our profession---giving us a bad name at best, and hurting someone at worst.
Lawyers sure don't stand for someone who hasn't passed the bar exam claiming to be a lawyer; do you think they shrug and say "it doesn't matter"? Or do you think they prosecute? How about medical doctors...you think the AMA thinks someone's claim to be a doctor (and isn't) is really a silly situation, not worthy of attention?