Jump to content
2019 Nursing Salary Survey Read more... ×

Are you a "Sister?"

Nurses   (5,905 Views 54 Comments)
by MikeyBSN MikeyBSN (New Member) New Member

MikeyBSN has 7 years experience and works as a ER Nurse.

7,815 Visitors; 438 Posts

advertisement

Should we keep the "sister" designation?

  1. 1. Should we keep the "sister" designation?

    • No, it's antiquated and unnecessary
      12
    • Yes, it's part of our tradition
      10
    • I have never heard it used in nursing
      73
    • I don't know
      3

98 members have participated

In many areas of nursing, I hear nurses call each other "sister". As a man in nursing, they call me and other male nurses "brother." I work in the U.S. but I know it's actually more common in other countries. From what I have read, the "sister" designation comes from Catholic nuns who ran hospital wards and were referred to as "the Sister." Also, I read that in some countries in Europe nurses are not called "nurses" but "sisters."

Regardless of the origins, what do you think of this practice? Is it used where you work? Should it be kept? I think it helps keep nursing a unique and tightly-knit field by conveying the idea that fellow nurses are sisters, and brothers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

61 Likes; 14,169 Visitors; 880 Posts

The only time I have used the term sister is when I have a patient that is a Nun, then she is Sister Jane (just like a priest is Father John).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Davey Do has 35 years experience and works as a Behavioral Health RN.

1,889 Likes; 13 Followers; 71,829 Visitors; 5,779 Posts

Is it used where you work?

The only formal titles which are consistently used is by the staff on the child psych unit. Predominately, in front of the patients, staff refer to each other as "Ms." or "Mr."

It's interesting when I work with the child psych staff on other units or merely greet them in passing. They refer to me as "Mr. Dave".

I like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

K+MgSO4 has 10 years experience and works as a nurse unit manager.

14 Likes; 1 Follower; 21,300 Visitors; 1,490 Posts

I can comment on the international perspective.

UK and Ireland- where nursing was the remit of religious orders for hundreds of years. The tradition of the ward / unit manager being referred to as "sister" remains. Despite very few, if any nuns are still working in healthcare. Probably as over the last 50-20 yrs ward managers were actually nuns and it is in the general population vernacular.

The Australian situation is a little different. There are 2 levels of nurses in Australia, RNs and ENs. I would guess that when Australia was inhabited by white people 200 years ago the first nurses were nuns. Those that were trained under them would of been ENs and thus referred to as "nurse" as opposed to the RNs who were referred to as "sister". I really struggled at first as an agency nurse in NSW as there was specific hospitals that still were very traditional on the terms. When I moved to Melbourne I heard it less but interestingly it is the ESL population who are older that will still call out "sister" rather than "nurse".

I still tease my boss with the term "matron" sometimes....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hoozdo has 15 years experience as a ADN and works as a RN.

1 Like; 13,398 Visitors; 1,530 Posts

Regardless of the origins, what do you think of this practice? Is it used where you work? Should it be kept? I think it helps keep nursing a unique and tightly-knit field by conveying the idea that fellow nurses are sisters, and brothers.

The term has been used in a couple of hospitals I have worked in. I liked it, it made me feel part of the team. I have only heard it used in the ICU field - never in any other area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JBudd has 38 years experience as a MSN and works as a ED nurse, community college adjunct faculty.

5 Likes; 2 Followers; 34,927 Visitors; 3,672 Posts

When I was visiting friends in a hospital in India, hospital nurses were all called sister or brother, nursing faculty were all called Ma'am. Often first name was used with the title, Flary Ma'am, Jo Ma'am, although it was usually spelled Mam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
advertisement

XB9S has 22 years experience and works as a Registered nurse.

4 Likes; 1 Follower; 8 Articles; 63,148 Visitors; 2,968 Posts

I work in the UK my team ward/ unit managers and their actual job titles are Ward or Unit Sisters,. Not one of them are nuns. Their male counterparts are charge nurses.

we also have Matrons (my role is that of a Matron) which is a recent change as the Matron title was less popular in British nursing for a few decades.

I work with an elderly population, they don't understand what a ward manager is but can relate to a Ward Sister, similarly they didn't really get what a Senior Nurse meant but understand when I introduce myself as Matron. in fact when I used the Senior Nurse title I was often asked what that meant and usually ended up describing it as "like a Matron"

I find the Sister and Matron titles are met with respect from my patients who understand the more traditional structures of nursing.

Edited by XB9S
Adding

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Newgradnurse17 has 2 years experience as a BSN.

64 Likes; 2,817 Visitors; 246 Posts

It's funny you posted this, because I've been thinking about it lately.

I'm from New Zealand and every nurse is called sister. Everywhere hospital/department I've ever been in nurses call each other sister. It's not the offical term. Just what we call each other.

I actually quite like it. It's a sisterhood. (I often hear nurses referring to the profession as a sisterhood) Really gives a sense of unity, like everyone's got your back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Elfriede has 40 years experience.

2 Likes; 3,723 Visitors; 208 Posts

In germany female nurses are called "Schwester" (=sister).

Male nurses are called "Pfleger" (~caregiver).

The officially term for both is "Gesundheits- und Krankenpfleger"

(~health- and sicknesscare) ... short: "GuK" (since the 1990th).

"Guk" has never prevailed in spoken language.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

neonn965 has 2 years experience.

2 Likes; 243 Visitors; 50 Posts

A small part of me thought you were going to ask who here was a James Charles fan...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3 Likes; 1,027 Visitors; 211 Posts

In the BBC series Call The Midwife, its the term for the head nurse in the wing

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LibraSunCNM has 10 years experience and works as a CNM.

83 Likes; 24,385 Visitors; 1,069 Posts

I work in the UK my team ward/ unit managers and their actual job titles are Ward or Unit Sisters,. Not one of them are nuns. Their male counterparts are charge nurses.

we also have Matrons (my role is that of a Matron) which is a recent change as the Matron title was less popular in British nursing for a few decades.

I work with an elderly population, they don't understand what a ward manager is but can relate to a Ward Sister, similarly they didn't really get what a Senior Nurse meant but understand when I introduce myself as Matron. in fact when I used the Senior Nurse title I was often asked what that meant and usually ended up describing it as "like a Matron"

I find the Sister and Matron titles are met with respect from my patients who understand the more traditional structures of nursing.

Just curious, what's the difference between a ward sister and a matron?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
×