Respect for the nursing profession?

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    I've read on several threads now that nursing is not respected as a profession. I find this mystifying, as in my experience nursing and nurses ARE respected. So maybe what I'm not getting is what "respect" really means to nurses.

    So what do you think it is? How do you think nursing will achieve it? And why do you think that particular way?

    (I'm thinking of the multiple times I've seen posted that a BSN as entry level will command respect for the profession. Is that really true? Why? And what about those professions who already require a bachelor's degree and more and still aren't respected by the public? Lawyers, for one...)

    I'd love to hear what you think!

    (edited to make thread title actually resemble the post...LOL)
    Last edit by Mel3K on Apr 3, '02

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  2. 19 Comments...

  3. 0
    When I say nursing is not respected as a profession, I am refering to the fact that a lot of people see nursing as "Butt-wiping and bedpans", they don't understand wall the responsibilities nurses have. Also, the profession is seen as "women's work" and it is seen as a vocation or calling rather than a profession. I have never heard anyone criticize a doctor for commanding a good salary, but somehow nurses are made to feel guilty for wanting decent pay for their work. We are supposed to be meek and chaste and virtuous and work for whatever wages the hospital is willing to pay us (because we aren't supposed to go into it for the money, we are supposed to be here only to serve others).

    I came to this realization during our last contract negotiations. Members of the public stated these things and also pointed out (again and again and again!!!) that we aren't even required to have a Bachelor's degree so we shouldn't expect the same level of pay as other health care workers or the same level of respect. That's why I am for the BSN becoming the minimum and it will be here in the next few years. New students no longer have the option of leaving with their diploma.
  4. 0
    Thanks for your reply, Fergus! I might find myself playing a bit of devil's advocate here, so I hope that no one thinks that I'm attacking you or anyone else.

    You and I have exchanged posts about teachers before, I remember. But I can count any number of people, some who have reason, and some who don't, who absolutely despise teachers, believe they're in it for the money and long vacations, etc. Same with doctors and lawyers (called quacks and weasels among the more flattering names...) as far as people thinking they're in it for the money. So in that case, the degrees haven't helped the images of those professions.

    I've wondered if perhaps it's that people use the lowest common denominator in classifying a position--the particular task that seems most easily understood--and since nursing and teaching each have areas that the average person commonly performs (at the most basic, who among us hasn't cared for a sick child or taught ABCs?). This is NOT to imply that there isn't much, much more to each profession; just wondering if that's why the public doesn't concentrate on the advanced technical knowledge nurses and teachers must have in order to perform their jobs.

    There was something else on another thread that struck me--a comparison was made of nurses and mechanics, and was just as quickly rejected. IMHO, comparing any two professions is comparing apples to oranges, but is it possible that what respect is implying here is also about social status? Not that that is a bad thing, just wondering if that moves us closer to the heart of the matter.

    Full of questions tonight, aren't I?

  5. 0
    Hi there,

    I had a great professor in college and she was a lawyer. She sparked my interest in law and she guided me through as my mentor. She became my role model and in class I listened to every word. My point is we admire the people we want to be. Working as a cna out of highschool I was very uninformed about other professions. Once in college I realized nursing was not for me. I started to look up to and admire people other than my head nurse . However if someones dream is to become a nurse they will look up to nurses as their role models. They should become a nurse because of the job and what that entails.
  6. 0
    I definitely agree respect and social status are linked. Personally I think teachers have a lot of the same problems as nurses. People called them greedy during their round of contract disputes. That's also supposed to be something you do because you love it and don't expect to get paid (mind you teachers here make more than nurses and have WAY better working conditions, so I do think they're doing something about it).

    The funny thing is, that never happened to doctors. Here in my province they went to binding arbitration. The gov't gave them an average of 50 000$ pay raise, but scrapped the rest of the binding arbitration which woiuld have awarded them another nine percent or something. So the docs talked about closing offices, not doing on call and eventually withdrawing services EVEN FOR LIFE AND LIMB CASES!!! I saw almost no public outcry like I did when we were negotiating our contract. Why? Because people respect doctors as highly trained professionals and think they deserve to be well compensated. The same can't be said for nurses. We are always right at the top when people are asked what profession they TRUST, but they don't really VALUE us in the same way they value doctors and even lawyers...Part of that is they think any idiot can go to nursing school and graduate to wipe butts. I used to think the BSN had nothing to do with respect, but throughout our contract negotiations and job action, it was pointed out again and again. "Nurses only have a year more education than plumbers" was a title of one letter to the editor. A nurse wrote back saying "SO pay me like a plumber, I'll be happy".
  7. 0
    I suspect that when all RN's have BSN's the powers- that- be will simply use something else to attempt to deny us what we want...then it will be "You're too expensive" or "Social workers have degrees and many make less than 20K...are they less valuable than a nurse?" "Aren't you as altruistic?" It will go on and on...LOL!

    The corporate interests will always be at odds with the worker....only through ORGANIZING and solidarity can we make professional headway, IMO. When all nurses have BSN as entry level we will STILL have to organize, IMO. The respect will not automatically appear by adding initials after our names, we will have to work together to gain it, IMO, and this involves activism and public awareness campaigns.

    Those who push BSN as the single 'savior' of our profession are being shortsighted, IMO. It is not that simple. I think it may be a good first step to getting on the right track, but there is MUCH more to be done...the prize we should be seeking is unification, not divisiveness. If we stop at mandating BSN and fail to unite nurses, we stand to lose much, IMO.

    Wouldn't it be wonderful to have our 'new' BSN mandate include a national organization whose goals include assisting local chapters in collective bargaining to truly unite us and strengthen us? Instead of dividing us?

    Just a thought.
  8. 0
    I agree with Fergus.
    Last edit by Susy K on Apr 4, '02
  9. 0
    [quote]originally posted by mattsmom81
    [b]i suspect that when all rn's have bsn's the powers- that- be will simply use something else to attempt to deny us what we want...then it will be "you're too expensive" or "social workers have degrees and many make less than 20k...are they less valuable than a nurse?" "aren't you as altruistic?" it will go on and!.......................[quote]

    wow! what a brilliant summation, mattsmom! i have often thought this very same thing. why would "the powers that be" have to pay us anymore money than those other professions make when they have a bachelors degree, too??? now, wouldn't that suck if the entry level to nursing were to become bachelors degree and nothing else??? hmmm, would i work as a rn for thirty grand a year, or would i work as a teacher, social worker, etc., for thirty grand a year??? i think i'd teach kindergarten or first and second graders. :chuckle what a mind-boggling point you make! still thinking...
  10. 0
    "Those who push BSN as the single 'savior' of our profession are being shortsighted, IMO. It is not that simple. I think it may be a good first step to getting on the right track, but there is MUCH more to be done...the prize we should be seeking is unification, not divisiveness. If we stop at mandating BSN and fail to unite nurses, we stand to lose much, IMO."-mattsmom81

    I don't think anyone who advocates the BSN degree as the entry for RN licensure, thinks it would be the 'single savior' of the profession. It will be a good start, in my opinion, but I agree that much more needs to be done. We must eliminate devisiveness, and work toward unity among us-because until we respect each other, all the advanced degrees in the world won't help us get respect from the rest of the public.

    "Wouldn't it be wonderful to have our 'new' BSN mandate include a national organization whose goals include assisting local chapters in collective bargaining to truly unite us and strengthen us? Instead of dividing us?"-mattsmom81

    There is already a national organization that is seeking to unify & strengthen the nursing profession. It is called the ANA, and one of their goals is to assist local chapters (i.e. State Nurses Associations) in collective bargaining, through the United American Nurses, the labor arm of the ANA.

    Some have stated here that we need to sit back and wait for the "powers that be" or the government to dictate to our profession what the standard for licensure should be. I strongly disagree. I think we all need to be proactive, join the ANA thru our SNA, and become active at a local level. Nurses who think a BSN is a good place to start need to work toward that goal, by lobbying legislators not only to make the changes, but also to help fund healthcare, as well as those who want to work in healthcare-especially nurses. WE are the profession-WE must work together to advance the profession in respect as well as the financial rewards that will attract new people (and hopefully non traditional students) into the profession.
  11. 0
    Nurses have the publics respect. Gallup polls indicate the general public trusts and believes in nurses far more than nearly any other profession. There will always be exceptions to that, we each have our stories but by and large nurses carry great respect from Joe Public.
    The lack of respect comes from corporate America, where only bottom line money grubbing healthcare is important. The problem is that the leaders of nursing have allowed it to happen and for the powers that be to get away with it. It has been the leaders of nursing that have allowed nurses to be used and abused. Before everyone burns up the keyboards to tell me I am wrong, ask yourself this. Where are the the attorneys from the big nursing organizations when nurses are fired for ******** things, when they are retailated against, when a physician is abusive be it verbally or otherwise? It has been a rare occasation for a nursing organization to help out with an attorney when a situation would clearly call for that help. Ask Barry Adams. The ANA not only wouldn't help him they advised that he not put anything in the article he wrote for Newsweek regarding his whistleblowing and subsequent termination, about the patient that died from a morphine overdose. Why? The patients death didn't matter? Why did the ANA not support him when he felt that his nurse manager should be held to the same standards as the floor nurse, she after all, practices nursing under the same nurse practice act. Where were the nursing organizations when nurses where being laid off all over the country and UAPs were brought in to fill those slots instead? They weren't howling in protest, they were busy telling you how to appropriately delegate. How about when you were being asked to take more patients then you felt you could handle. Again they were not yelling wrong! They were telling you how to organize and prioritize better. I am not just slamming the ANA here, I am talking about all the major organizations. It is not the general public that says "Get a BSN and you will gain respect" that would be our own organization that has made more than half of the RNs in this country feel as if we just weren't quite good enough by letting us know loud and clear that we weren't professionals because we "only" held a diploma or a ADN. Though we ALL meet the standard of being a professional by Websters dictionary. Tiger Woods is called a professional golfer, yet I do not recall that he went to a 4 year course for golfing so he earned that right to be called a professional. I don't even disagree with having one educational standard for nurses, what I disagree with is the attitude that too many in the nursing organizations hold towards those without that standard. And if BSN is to be the gold standard quit talking about it and make it happen. Be assertive, quit letting others dicate to our profession. While I believe Suzanne Gorden is a good writer and she is great about taking up the cause for nurses, she is not a nurse. I want to see articles from nurses that are frank and tell it like it is, not nurses who cower with their tail between their legs, cheering on the writer who will at least write about nurses, because there is too much fear as to what could happen if you were forthright.
    The nursing organizations are slowly, and I mean slowly taking a stand on issues. However I think it is silly and nonproductive to constantly talk about how we don't get any respect. I think that is horse pukey for one, as well as the need somehow to stay in a victem role. Your only a doormat as long as you lay down. Respect is earned, not just given. Physicians that are abusive are allowed to get away with it, Not only because a manager won't do anything about it, but because the nurse who is being treated that way is too frightened to rock the boat. And when a nurse does it is most often other nurses who gang up on the outspoken nurse for bringing the hounds of hell down on the unit instead of circling the wagons and being supportive of the nurse who is willing to be the boat rocker. Either that or the other nurses slick away, and hope that no one remembers they used to be friendly and talk to that nurse.
    It is nurses who don't value their own worth, it is nurses who don't offer respect to their coworkers, instead finding fault and nitpicking others to death. It is nurse leaders who have sat on their hands while our profession has been battered by managed care. I have never had the experience of telling someone what I do for a living and have them act like I did a worthless job that society doesn't need. Instead I have had people say thank God there are people like you who can do that job. I have always gotten respect from others that are not in my profession, it is only from those inside my profession that I have been treated with disrespect. And that is the really sad part.

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