It is my opinion that our celebration of ourselves and public displays of "look at us" are embarrassing.
I did a search on Google.com(a popular search engine). Here are the keywords searched and # of results.
"National Nurses Week" 1,080 results
"National Lawyers Week" 0 results
"National Doctors Week" 0 results
"National Housekeepers week" 41 results
"National teachers week" 33 results
"National professors week" 0 results
Now I am sure this data doesn't mean squat but it is interesting that the professions most universally considered "professional" have 0 results while those seen as "less than professional" or "blue collar" have hits.
I think banners point out more than anything that we want recognition. Wanting recognition is weak. It makes me feel we are a bunch of begging dogs. Nobody likes or respects begging dogs - even if that is what he thinks it takes to get attention.
Leno makes jokes - well we HAD to point at say look at me. Then we get mad when he does his job(however tasteless).
I know it isn't entirely feasible but if I was going to try to get nursing into the professional realm thiese are some things I would do:
1. Ban nurses week and other pat my back and toot my horn activities.
2. Throw away all the touchy feely nurse poems that act as if nurses are better than regular humans with more compassion, stamina, etc. Its only good for nurses to read to themself while they look in the mirror and if is that irritating to me it must really be silly to non-nurses.
3. Adopt some standards for patient safety and stick to them. Don't accept an assignment that you think is unsafe. Complaining about staffing while continuing to work short just proves to management you are willing take part in jeopardizing your patients even while a prudent nurse sees it to be unsafe. It is true enough that if you are the only one you will simply be fired and replaced. This is why as a profession it proves we are weak kneed(unlike lawyers, doctors, etc).
4. Hold each other to high standards. When you see that nurse using bad technique, smelling like cigarettes, cologne, dirty uniform, curt, rude, etc., realize she/he is representing nurses and it IS more damaging than anything Leno could say.
In short. If we want Nursing to be treated like a true profession we need to elevate it to the level of a true profession.
That doesn't include celebrating ourselves or media campagns.