Nursing is Not a Science

  1. 0 Is nursing a science? The second letter in the degree on my wall seems to think so.

    However, I have been expanding my horizons and have found those that don't seem to believe the same. I am currently applying to higher degree programs, including a few osteopathy schools.

    For those of you that don't know, both allopathic and osteopathic doctorate schools use their own centralized application process for almost all schools in the US. During the application, a potential student has to enter every course taken at an accredited college or university. This can take hours, depending on the number of degrees earned. Each class requires a school, year, term, credit hours, catalog code, course name, and grade.

    This is where I found out something I didn't know about our profession. AACOMAS (the centralized application for osteopathic schools) also requires a classification of the class. They have a limited number of choices, but a handy guide to know which class goes into which general category. For example, psychology goes under "Behavioral Science", organic chemistry goes under "Organic Chemistry", oceanography goes under "Bio/Zoology", and physical education goes under "Other Non-Science".

    I can't hyperlink the list because you have to login to their website and begin an application to view the entire boring instructions on placing each class in each general category.

    Imagine my surprise when I was entering my classes from my BSN program to find "Nursing" under the listing for "Other Non-Science"!

    Apparently, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine doesn't consider our classes to be as scientific as "Chiropractic", "Electronics", "Nutrition", and "Geology". I don't want to imply that those studies aren't scientific, but nursing is at least as scientific, if not more than, many on that list (c'mon... "Geology"?).

    Since approximately 20% of physicians have a DO instead of a MD, this means that 1 in 5 of the people giving us orders are being taught that nursing is as scientific as "Theater", "Religion", "Public Speaking", and "Cultural Geography". In their eyes, I guess the nurse practitioners they are trusting haven't really taken any science classes either (although, physician assistant classes are counted as a science...).

    Since the weighting system on the AACOMAS application applies different calculations for GPA based on whether or not it is a science class, it appears that I will be at a disadvantage when submitting my application. Is it as possible that practicing our "art" has led others to view us as lacking a practice in "science"? How do we assert ourselves better and is there anything I can really do to solve this immediate bias?
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  3. Visit  UserG} profile page

    About UserG

    UserG has '2' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Emergency Department'. From 'Oregon'; Joined Jun '09; Posts: 69; Likes: 78.

    18 Comments so far...

  4. Visit  MN-Nurse} profile page
    6
    Well, as long as "Disturbed Energy Field" remains a Nursing Diagnosis, anyone saying "Nursing is not a science" sure has a good freaking point.

    I don't think nursing classes in general should be listed under the same heading as science classes like chemistry. They are quite different. And yes, geology is certainly a science class.

    I doubt that 20% of working physicians are actually osteopaths as you claim. I think the statistic is that 20% of medical students in school now are in DO programs.

    As far as the "bias" you mention goes, I could give a rip if DO schools consider nursing program classes as sciences. The inferences you are making from the distinction are false anyway.
    KelRN215, EricJRN, DizzyLizzyNurse, and 3 others like this.
  5. Visit  MunoRN} profile page
    3
    I don't think it's any secret that Nursing is a pseudo-science and not a true science. Most of our graduate and post-graduate curriculum is based on "theory" that doesn't meet the basic definitions of scientific theory, rather it's "theory" in the same way that something that starts with "Dude, did you ever notice" following a bong hit is a "theory".

    While I agree that Nursing is a fairly "soft" science, it's interesting that this criticism comes from a school of osteopathy, which teaches chelation therapy and homeopathy. And BTW, osteopath's make up more like 6-7% of Physicians, not 20.
  6. Visit  elkpark} profile page
    4
    Makes no difference to me whatsoever what DO schools think of my education.
    KelRN215, llg, malamud69, and 1 other like this.
  7. Visit  netglow} profile page
    0
    I get your point OP. Nursing can be a very limiting when it comes to wanting to use those credits to do something else - other than nursing.

    This is why especially in this economy, it would be ridiculous to get your only bachelor's degree in nursing. Best to have a good foundation that will allow you do pursue other things should you ever want to, or need to, without having to start from square one financially.
  8. Visit  hiddencatRN} profile page
    1
    I've taken science classes (including Geology, which is actually fascinating) and I've taken nursing classes. Nursing definitely relies on science but I'd compare our education more to psychology than biology.I don't think nursing always wants to be a science anyway. Instead of scientific theory, we have evidence based practice, because we have to rename well-established concepts to make them more nursey. It's a pretty big logical leap to go from what categories your application has to what DOs are taught in school.
    Altra likes this.
  9. Visit  morte} profile page
    3
    some of this bias comes, I am betting, from the fact that some colleges have been known to "dumb down" the science courses for their nursing students.......
    llg, DoGoodThenGo, and umbdude like this.
  10. Visit  juan de la cruz} profile page
    3
    Quote from MN-Nurse
    Well, as long as "Disturbed Energy Field" remains a Nursing Diagnosis, anyone saying "Nursing is not a science" sure has a good freaking point.
    I literally LOL'd at that statement.
  11. Visit  UserG} profile page
    1
    Quote from juan de la cruz
    I literally LOL'd at that statement.
    Me too!

    Come to think of it, I did have a tough internal struggle justifying my nursing leadership course being in any category. I had a professor who taught the merits of non-contact therapeutic touch therapy. Ugh!

    But, have you ever looked at a chiropractor's education? "Disturbed Energy Field" is something I could hear coming out of one of their mouths as well.
    llg likes this.
  12. Visit  jema427} profile page
    1
    I was just trying to figure this question out for myself! so does this mean that the "science" prerequisites such as Bio, chem, anatomy, micro etc are considered NON-SCIENCE as well? I tranfered from a prenursing major to a biology major and my new school refused to accept my nursing prereqs as actual biology requirements. I was really shocked to hear that because I didnt think they were any different from bio prereqs.
    lindarn likes this.
  13. Visit  DoGoodThenGo} profile page
    1
    Quote from jema427
    I was just trying to figure this question out for myself! so does this mean that the "science" prerequisites such as Bio, chem, anatomy, micro etc are considered NON-SCIENCE as well? I tranfered from a prenursing major to a biology major and my new school refused to accept my nursing prereqs as actual biology requirements. I was really shocked to hear that because I didnt think they were any different from bio prereqs.
    As someone commented upthread there can be great variation in how science courses are taught for nursing majors versus say pre-med or biology. That difference in course content can influence how or if such credits transfer.

    Remember hearing years ago about a girl desparate to enter a local NYC nursing program. She had finished most of her pre-reqs but was missing A&P, but never the less managed to gain a acceptance into a school provided she completed the missing classes by the fall. After not having any luck finding openings in any local colleges she did find A&P classes offered at some school out west somewhere. Turned out the A&P was pre-med (complete with cadavers) not the usual nursing orientated classes most of us are used to. Undaunted classes were taken, passed.


    Hunter College here in NYC for instance has all health science majors (nursing, pre-med, etc..) take the same organic chem and possibly other science classes. Thus rather than the usual "chem for weenies" many nursing students take this is a full on chemistry class which IIRC requires a 3.0 passing grade inorder to be considered for entry into the nursing program.

    All this brings into question the larger debate as to just how much and which sciences nurses need to know. Physics with or without alculus for instance are part of all pre-med requirements, yet nursing programs rarely ever don't,well at least perhaps not for undergrad anyway. Do nurses really need the understanding of organic chemistry to the level of a physican or pharmacist?
    lindarn likes this.
  14. Visit  tokebi} profile page
    1
    Quote from DoGoodThenGo
    Do nurses really need the understanding of organic chemistry to the level of a physican or pharmacist?
    Probably not for the most day-to-day nursing duties, but I think it might do nursing profession the world of good. Knowledge in biochemistry is invaluable to learn physiology/pathophysiology and pharmacology. Unfortunately, getting to biochem requires org chem, which is notoriously difficult and requires learning a bunch of reactions that have nothing to do with biological systems. Still, it all builds up to a deeper understanding of things later on.

    I feel like the lack of a rigorous science requirement for nursing program does disservice to students who crave an education that is on par with medical or pharmacy programs AND want to contribute to nursing profession. But I can understand how people might view such education unnecessary for nursing. I suppose there's the APN route for those who want more in-depth education.
    lindarn likes this.
  15. Visit  morte} profile page
    2
    Personally, I think if you are being granted a BS degree, you should have taken the "full on" variety of the sciences. One reason i prefer a PA to a NP...I looked into applying to a PA course and they were going to blow me off till I explained that my sciences WERE NOT pre nursing courses....
    Szasz_is_Right and lindarn like this.


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