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?