Very good questions. I'm a diploma nurse
, and I'll die a diploma nurse. (Incidentally I trained in Manitoba!) I too got the "critical thinking" song and dance until I was ready to hurl... and it was when the diploma school was trying to justify rejecting my application. I asked them if they thought I needed critical thinking skills to care for my son, who had open-heart surgery at the age of 2 days, then 3 1/2 years of chemotherapy and radiotherapy for a malignant blood disorder, then a liver transplant to overcome the side effects of his disease and its treatment, which then cause him to stroke and require intensive care for 7 weeks and ongoing rehab... That was met with stone-faced silence. I graduated three years later.
There are many arguments about why nurses should be degree prepared. They all are rooted in the "professional" definition. "How can someone be considered a professional if they don't have a degree? Other health care professionals have degrees, PT,OT, Speech needs a Masters, blah blah blah." There are nursing faculty members here who slam nursing unions as promulgating a blue-collar perception of nursing. But I don't see the CNA, the provincial 'colleges', the nursing school faculty out there pushing for safe working conditions, adequate wages and benefits. Hmmm hmmm... don't the faculty members themselves belong to a union? Doesn't that then make them blue collar ghetto dwellers too? Years ago I did a side-by-side comparison of the actual education received by students in the U of M program and the Red River program, and guess what! The Red River program actually provided significantly more hours of instruction and clinical practice than the U of M, even though the program was half as long in calendar months. The Manitoba Nurses' Union published my study.
I work with a large number of relatively new nursing 'professionals'. Is it professional to embark on a career path without fully understanding what will be required of you? Is it professional to then refuse to work nights, weekends or holidays, having gone into the career knowing that it's a we-never-close job? Is it professional to take a full time position in a very short-staffed unit then go casual because you didn't get your vacation in the summer? Is it professional to feel so superior and smug about yourself because you have BScN after your name that you won't listen to the voice of experience telling you your patient is going to crump... and then stand there wringing your hands when it happens and you don't have a clue what to do? If you put all the nurses that work in my unit together in a room and observed them providing care, you would not be able to tell anyone which ones have degrees and which ones don't, unless you use their age as a clue.
I don't know what the solution is, but I do agree that if they are ever going to insist that all nurses have degrees, then tuition reimbursement and living cost subsidies will have to be part of the deal.