Why is education not valued within our profession?

  1. why is education not highly valued within the nursing profession?

    think about the large scheme of other "professions". education is held in high regard. why is this not the case in nursing?

    bachelor's degrees in nursing are not met with enthusiasm. sometimes, they are met with distain. why are the additional two years not acknowledged as an important part of education?

    so what if the extra two years are not completely focused on nursing. if achieving a bachelor's degree in business, all four years aren't geared exactly towards business courses, but no one would claim that these other areas of study do not apply. they just add a broader scope to the students knowledge base.

    how could additional knowledge about foreign languages, literature, geography, political sciences, logic, religions, humanities, nature, music and other liberal arts and sciences not be a benefit to the nursing profession. our clients come from all races, creeds, and walks of life. why are we not encouraged to learn more about all of these very important areas of life. why do we constantly hinder ourselves by not encouraging the further education of our peers? why is a higher degree status so unattractive to some of us? if we consider these topics "useless" knowledge which does not warrant study, then do we consider these attributes within our client population to be useless as well? do what other cultures enjoy, believe, think, feel about other areas of life not matter? it should. how can we provide holistic care for the entire patient if we are only focused on their medical condition. what about the other factors of health, happiness, and quality of life? why is the study of these areas not encouraged?

    when we discourage others, when we offer distain to nurses who have seen it fit to learn more than nursing theory and skill techniques, we are not only shortchanging our clients, but we are limiting the great potential that each and every one of us has. we are not "just nurses", all of us are people too, with our own interests, life stories, experiences. the broading of our minds, regardless of the topic studied is not a negative decision! all knowledge gained is worth the commitment. so why are nurses not encouraged to do so?

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    About BrandyBSN

    Joined: Jun '01; Posts: 973; Likes: 38
    Community Health Nurse


  3. by   Jenny P
    Brandy, I don't really think that nursing devalues higher education. I think there are several reasons for this perception, though, and they range all the way from nurses feeling insecure about their own educational backgrounds to basic bedside time and care. There have been BSN programs that have very little patient care experience -I remember having to teach a new BSN grad (who had passed her state board exam) how to take a blood pressure years ago; she had never had to do that during her whole 4 years of study! There are also many expensive private colleges that offer BSN programs that have the lowest rates of passing the NCLEX exams of any nursing programs in a state!
    Another thing that happens in nursing that is unique to us, is that the higher the education of a nurse, the farther away from the bedside they are. As one moves up in nursing, one often loses sight of the reason they went in to nursing in the first place --to give care and comfort to another human being. How many people do you know who go into nursing to be a nurse manager or nursing executive? There are many, many Masters prepared teachers out there still teaching (my local grade school has 18 Master-prepared teachers for grades K-6!), but there are very few Masters prepared nurses still at the bedside (although I am lucky enough to work with 2 of these rare nurses!). Masters-prepared nurses are often the CNS or NPs or CRNAs-- all of which have a totally different focus on nursing than those of us still at the bedside.
    I do not begrudge higher education for nurses, nor do most of the nurses I know. But with the higher education, please figure out some way to stay at the bedside and have an adequate background in patient care in order to use that education to the benefit of your co-workers and the patients you care for!
  4. by   BrandyBSN
    Jenny P, very VERY well said. It is a shame that more Masters Degree nurses are pulled away from the bedside. They have so much that they could offer to the bedside, but I do understand that it is hard to keep them there, when the pay is not exactly fitting for the educational level. And educational advancement has SOMETHING to offer at the bedside. Thank you very much for your input!

  5. by   KC CHICK
    I see CRNAs at the bedside every day....the bedside, though, is called the OR table. They are hands on w/patients during every case, special procedure, and sometimes deliveries on L&D.
    Just thought I'd add that......since they're mostly in the OR, you don't see them around....but they're there.
  6. by   nurs4kids
    You know I've always supported the BSN being recognized for the extra sacrifice. BUT what you keep saying is the exact thing that gets people fuming. More education does NOT necessarily make you a better nurse! That attitude is wrong. I work with a woman, 30 years experience, BSN..new to peds. She is hideous!!! She gets so caught up in the social aspects of the patient that she forgets the necessary PHYSICAL/MEDICAL needs. So, don't tell me all those sociology, pshychology, management, etc classes makes her a better nurse than me, because it just ain't true!! What I have found that differentiates nurses is life experiences. Perhaps we can start paying people and judging them based on their own life experience??

    Nursing DOES recognize AND encourage education. BSN's are more accepted in management, MSN's in administrative roles, Np's etc. If you expect to walk on the floor and the LPN's and the ADN's bow down to you because you have more education, then you're setting yourself up for a depressing blow. If you will respect people for the knowledge they have, not the initials behind their name, then you will be treated the same.

    I think it's wonderful that you're coming out of school feeling very confident and educated, most of us lacked that confidence coming out. BUT, you will soon see that education does not differentiate good nurses from bad nurses...but attitude does
  7. by   OC_An Khe
    Its sad to say but a significant numbers of RN don't value education. Until this changes no one else will value RN with further education. As usual we are our own worse enemies in this topic.
  8. by   essarge
    I posted this on another thread and thought maybe this would be an appropriate thread to put it on also. NP's managed to organize themselves and get pretty much what they wanted, so why can't the rest of the nursing world do the same??????

    I am doing a term paper on NP's and found Brandy's comments interesting. So I thought that I would make some comments (facts) about NP's and their education.

    First, most NP's are CERTIFIED through a MSN program. They have a separate board to sit for that is designed by the American College of Nurse Practitioners. The first NP program was started in 1965 at the University of Colorado (against physician's wishes). This was after thousands of studies looking at quality of care, patient acceptance, patient satisfaction and cost-effectiveness of NP's were conducted. The education process for NP's has become more standardized over the years and the move to require a master's degree for entry level practice has taken a long time. The last to make this change was the Women's health NP and the last funding for women's health certificate prams under Title X ends in 2004. By 2007 all women's health NP's will need a master's degree to sit for the national women's health certification examination.

    In 1992 (when the nation was discussing healthcare reform under the Clinton Administration) NP's moved to develop greater organizational cooperation because they thought that they would be totally left out of any new reform due to not being unified with a national presence in Washington, DC. There was a national summit of NPs and a National NP Coalition was created. This coalition was formalized into a permanent political arm for NP's which became the American College of Nurse Practitioners.

    Now, so you don't get totally bored reading about NP's here's a little info about salaries. In 1997 the average salary was $52,532 and in 1999 it was $58,391. And (go figure) allot of the salaries are still gender specific. For instance in 1999 the female NP's salary averaged $58,120 and the male NP's salary averaged $62,680.

    These are just some of the facts that I uncovered when I was doing research for this paper.

    So YES, furthering your education is important and YES there should be a difference in salary.

    Perhaps nurses that are NOT NP's should take a lesson and organize like the nurses with more education did!!!

  9. by   psnurse
    I have a theory on this. Actually, it was logic for one place I worked not offering tuition reimbursement for MSN education.

    If any job in the place requires no more than an ADN, why would the hospital reimburse for something they don't require? By furthering education and perhaps moving further away from the actual hospital bedside, you cut into the hospital's labor pool. In essence, they paid to lose a staff member. This same hospital did, however, have reimbursement for BSN advancement. BSN education leaves large numbers of nurses still at the bedside by virtue of numbers of bedside positions vs. number of management positions.

    It is a question of priorities. For instance, the hospital where I am now employed does afford me tuition reimbursement for the MSN program I attend. They offer $1500 per year, which covers one semester and a tiny bit. But if you are not already a nurse, you can get $5200 because of some federal program. There is a work committment attached. But the focus in the current climate is to increase the number of working RNs. So from a business perspective, this again makes sense. Although it doesn't do much for me personally.

    As for the argument that further education takes nurses away from patient care and the bedside, I would be inclined to disagree. The CRNA example was pointed out on an earlier post, and truly these advanced practice nurses are involved in patient care on a daily basis. NP's are also involved in patient care, not necessarily at the hospital bedside, but nursing and healthcare extends well beyond those very limited boundaries. And the CNS can be utilized in direct patient care also, although again, not necessarily at the hospital bedside.

    The masters level offers administrative tracks that will pull nurses away from the bedside, but these nurses make decisions that affect nurses at the bedside. In the program I attend, the majority are studying to acquire NP certification. Just a couple of administrative types. But they add a different perspective to class discussion and give the rest of us cause to pause and rethink our position sometimes. This also works in reverse order and occasionally they must rethink their position.

    It may be idealistic, but I like to think that the administrative types will be better administrators for considering our point of view and we will be better NPs for considering theirs.

    In the end, entry level is entry level. I have long held the opinion that you don't really learn much about being a nurse until you actually are one. I have precepted ADN grads and BSN grads and would rather have one that knows enough to ask questions than one that thinks they know everything already.
  10. by   BrandyBSN

    Thank you for posting, and making me realize that I need to clarify something.

    Although I said many things, I didnt say that taking all of those courses makes me a better nurse than somone who hasn't. but, It has definately made me a better nurse than I would have been otherwise. I look at things much differently because I have a wider knowledge base to draw from. Im not comparing rather a BSN is greater than a ADN in the nursing field. I AM comparing the type of nurse "I would have been", compared to all that I have learned (and CAN apply) to nursing now.

    The point of my original post was not that one is a better nurse than the other. It was that education is just not seen as an important addition to the professsion by many. We complain about working conditions, salaries, and benefits, yet we seem resistant to requiring a 4-year, or even BSN-bridge.

    I would ask many to look at the progression of programs. An LPN program is 2 semesters, an ADN program is 4 semesters, and a BSN is 8. There is only 2 semesters between an LPN and an ADN, but there is 4 semesters between an ADN and a BSN. I just dont understand how we can complain about "not being treated as professionals" when we do not even encourage a professional education.

    Instead of people here respecting the fact that many have had twice the education, BSN nurses are told "wow, you wasted two years and you didnt learn anything valuable". Not all other nurses are like this, and like Nurs4kids, ARE encouraging. I find this very frustrating. Do I expect the nurses on the floor to bow down to me because I have a BSN? HELL NO! But I atleast will not allow my extra two years to be dismissed as useless unapplicable knowledge I CAN apply it, and DO It is worth the effort. and no, I do NOT believe that my education outweighs other nurses hands-on experience. I just want to know why education is not held in high regard within the nursing field.
    Last edit by BrandyBSN on Nov 10, '01
  11. by   KC CHICK
    From my limited experience, Brandy, I can already tell you that PERFORMANCE and ATTITUDE in the field is what demands respect. Not two extra years of education.
    I don't mean to be harsh in my other posts, but, come on!! You seem to be a huge perpetuator of these ADN/diploma/BSN posts and debates. If I didn't value education myself, I wouldn't be going back to school next fall.
    What I am trying to get across to you is this: ADNs have a lot to give, as do BSNs. We just take different paths to get to the same place. The value of life experience is a great asset. Let me ask you this......what is the average age of the BSN traditional student as opposed to the ADN non-traditional student? I bet you money that you will find an immense difference in life experiences between both groups. Myself, being 28 y/o, has a different set of life experiences to draw from than a 18-21y/o.

    Please don't expect instant respect from staff for having 2 extra years of education under your belt.
    Flame retardant gear on--------FIRE AWAY!!
  12. by   BrandyBSN
    Im not going to flame you, and I do understand that both have a lot of offer, both ADN and BSN nurses.

    And you are right, I am a huge poster when it comes to debates on the value of education. It is one of the topics that interests me the most! I put a very high value on education, and I find it very interesting that many dont.

    Actually, I think you have done it one of the best ways! You got one, now you are going for the other. You know what it is like from both sides of the fence. I really applaud nurses who go back for more education. there is always more to be learned.

    Performance and attitude do add to respect. But after talking with many other students on this board, I really start to get the feeling that many think we "wasted" two years, and didnt gain any insight that can be a wonderful addition to nursing practice. How silly! If nothing was the be gained by further education, and if none of it was applicable to nursing practice, then we wouldnt have spent the time to do it.

    And honestly, I would imagine that the average age of a BSN nurse is younger than the average ADN student, but I am not sure. Life experience does offer a great asset, but so does formal education. This was never met to be an "us versus them" debate. It was just a question about why we dont as a whole encourage further education. When we dont recognize the importance of knowledge, how can we expect others to recognize us as educated professionals?
  13. by   BeachNurse
    I really don't know the answer..but I wanted to mention that I did have to attend nursing classes the summer preceding and the summer in-between traditional semesters for my Associate's Degree. Doesn't that equal 6 semesters?

    It still took me 3 years, and that was including courses that I had already taken when I was in a different B.S. degree program in the past. My ADN program included management and community nursing, and I proceeded to take bioethics and statistics, along with an extra pharmacology class for my own benefit. The cost was much less than at the university.

    Unfortunately, I moved to Florida last year, and they make it SO HARD to get the BSN! I have to take a NUTRITION class of all things..which was incorporated into my AD program. A whole 16 week course on nutrition?! Please! Plus a lot of extra things I don't feel are necessary for nurses.

    My clinical experience counts for pretty much ZIP as well. I was very disheartened with conditions in the hospital, and landed an excellent position in the field of clinical research. I want to get the BSN to enhance my career so that can "move up" in a few years. Unfortunately, the clinicals are M-F during the day (which is when I work), so I don't know how/if I can manage that. I may end up having to get a Bachelor's in some other science, which means basically starting all over again with school (more $$).

    I personally feel that RN-BSN programs make it HARDER and not EASIER for many nurses to complete their education. Like MANY nurses, I cannot quit my full-time job with health benefits in order to go to school. I am the primary income-earner in my household and have 2 children to support. The time and money required can be a hindrance. Not all nurses are fortunate enough to work whichever hours they want and/or have financial resources to pay for 4 year degrees.

    I wanted to comment that if nurses want their education valued, then they should be seeking positions that require a BSN at minimum. No, those positions are NOT at the bedside because a Bachelor's Degree is not required in order to perform floor nursing duties.
    Last edit by BeachNurse on Nov 10, '01
  14. by   BeachNurse
    I also wanted to add that, with the current state of the nursing shortage and under-staffing problems, I really feel that the focus and goal of nurses is in completing their necessary tasks as efficiently and SAFELY as is possible in this very stressful environment.

    Skills necessary to accomplish that goal can ONLY be acquired with years of floor nursing experience. You will not learn how to be a competent, efficent floor nurse by taking extra humanities classes and art appreciation.