Legally Protect the word "Nurse?"

  1. 0
    Should the word "nurse" be a legally protected title? I am mixed on it. Personally, the word nurse is vague and could mean many different things. It could mean an LPN and it could mean an RN. It does not signify a credential. However, a lot of people assume nurse = RN.

    It is kind of like a "doctor" in my opinion. A doctor could be a doctor of anything whereas it is illegal to say you are an MD or DO without being an MD or a DO.

    My state does not currently regulate the use of the word nurse. Hence why we have graduate nurse interns or nurse techs (which are PCTs/CNAs).

    So what are your thoughts on the issue?

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  2. 109 Comments...

  3. 25
    "Doctor" is an academic distinction. One with a PhD in physics, a DMA in piano performance, or an EdD in education *can* use the title "Doctor," but cannot call themselves "Physicians." I don't know anybody past elementary school who gets confused about "Dr." when referring to someone with a doctoral degree, vs. a physician.

    "Nurse" is not an academic title. It is a word specific to the profession that encompasses RNs and LPNs/LVNs. So no, if one hasn't graduated from nursing school and passed the NCLEX, they should not be able to call themselves "Nurse."
    NRSKarenRN, sslamster, Guttercat, and 22 others like this.
  4. 19
    In most states it means either RN or LPN. That doesn't seem vague or like "it could mean many things" to me. It means only two things. (or maybe three if you're counting AP RN's as separate from all other RNs)

    Are you suggesting only RNs be legally allowed to call themselves "Nurses"? That would make the title licensed practical nurse a tad nonsensical, now wouldn't it?

    The title "RN" is a protected title. I cannot call myself an RN. But I most surely can call myself a nurse.
    sharpeimom, jalyc RN, crynyce, and 16 others like this.
  5. 26
    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?
    FLICURN, KrysyRN, pink.sen, and 23 others like this.
  6. 14
    Not only SHOULD the title "nurse" be protected, it IS protected in most states.
    KrysyRN, beckyboo1, sharpeimom, and 11 others like this.
  7. 10
    I didn't realize this thread didn't merge with the others....but of course it didn't, as I didn't start it! Thank you, applesx, for keeping the topic available on the General discussion board.

    You did mention that the word nurse "does not signify a credential". I'm not sure what you mean by that, as the credential it DOES signify is explicit: nurse. Whether the license is Registered Professional Nurse or Licensed Practical (or Vocational) Nurse, the credential is inherent in the use of the word. When one says "Lawyer", are you confused as to whether they mean legal secretary or paralegal? No....or at least, you shouldn't be.

    One is only a nurse when one has been licensed as an RN or LPN (or LVN).
    jalyc RN, redhead_NURSE98!, psu_213, and 7 others like this.
  8. 5
    The title nurse...to include LPN is protected in most states....Title "Nurse" Protection: Summary of Language by State
    sharpeimom, OCNRN63, poppycat, and 2 others like this.
  9. 2
    Quote from RNsRWe
    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
    I am reading this incorrectly right? True, many offices hire the much cheaper MAs, but RNs and LPNs certainly do work in offices. My mom, an RN, has worked for a pediatric pulmonologist as an RN, for 23 years. I worked there as an RN for almost 2 years. Speaking of meds, my mom's knowledge in this very specialized area supercedes the wide eyed baby residents' that come and go through the office. Countless times have they gone to her with questions.
    Ella26 and Not_A_Hat_Person like this.
  10. 9
    Quote from SleeepyRN
    I am reading this incorrectly right? True, many offices hire the much cheaper MAs, but RNs and LPNs certainly do work in offices. My mom, an RN, has worked for a pediatric pulmonologist as an RN, for 23 years. I worked there as an RN for almost 2 years. Speaking of meds, my mom's knowledge in this very specialized area supercedes the wide eyed baby residents' that come and go through the office. Countless times have they gone to her with questions.
    I think you are reading it incorrectly.....I mean ZERO disrespect to licensed nurses who work in offices (I did some work in one, too!). I meant the employee who holds no such license, but answers to "nurse" when called, and when calling patients says "this is Dr. X's Nurse". Or when a patient calls asking to speak with a nurse, gets the medical assistant who tells her all about what her own kid did when she had that same rash....you get the idea. The term "office nurse" is just as common as "baby nurse" was (and in some places, is).

    People like your mom, an experienced nurse in a medical office, are a dying breed, sadly. All too often they are replaced with not just cheaper, but lesser, employees without credentials.
    jalyc RN, psu_213, SoldierNurse22, and 6 others like this.
  11. 6
    My state protects the title nurse and reserves it for LPN and RN use only, and each of the subtitles like LPN and RN are additionally protected for only those holding the title.

    The title nurse should be protected because it does in fact imply that the user holds a state license in the field of nursing. Certain publicly protected and licensed professions must be regulated and the public protected from fraudelent use of the term.

    Just try to fraudelently declare yourself a police officer to any licensed peace officer and see what happens.
    KrysyRN, jalyc RN, psu_213, and 3 others like this.


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