To answer the question, I am going to specifically focus on bedside nursing since the majority of nurses perform hands-on duties. In my opinion, bedside nursing is a profession and a trade rolled into one tidy package. Moreover, nursing is not the most respected profession for reasons that I will list below.
I feel that nursing suffered a major blow with the phasing-out of the 3-year diploma RNs. This was the manner in which the majority of nurses were educated in previous generations, and these RNs could hit the ground running as brand new grads in any healthcare setting with minimal orientation (or none at all) due to their very high proportion of hands-on clinical hours.
Nursing education moved away from a practical hospital-based model to a more theoretical college-based model, and as a result, entire regions of the U.S. are filled with new grads who can quickly formulate care plans
and regurgitate the theories of Jean Watson and Callista Roy, but have never inserted Foley catheters, started peripheral IV lines, applied colostomy bags, dropped NG tubes, or located pedal pulses. Many facilities no longer want to incur the massive expense of training these unskilled new grads, and I really cannot blame them. Most, if not all, of these skills should have been learned in school.
Bedside nursing is a trade and a profession rolled into one. A new 'professional registered nurse
' who knows all about theories, care planning, and answering NCLEX-style questions is ineffectual at the bedside without the hands-on 'skills of the trade
' that are needed in everyday practice.
Also, female-dominated professions such as nursing tend to generate less respect than the career pathways primarily occupied by males. Examine the college-educated professions dominated by women: nursing, school teaching, librarianship, social work, and psychology all have similarities including less respect, lower prestige, and not as much pay as jobs dominated by men. While the public views nursing as the most trusted profession as evidenced by multiple surveys, we are not the most respected.