I want to tell you I agree with you - just about everything you said. I also think nursing is a failing profession because of the inability to speak coherently, in one voice. It is evident in the various threads here. Hell, we can't even start a thread about a newscast in Pittsburg without SOMEONE getting sensitive about it and going way off topic.
Maybe I am nieve, but I have YET to meet ANY nurse, regardless of education, who thinks that LPNs or NAs are useless. My floor did not have NAs until very recently, and most of us didn't even know how to delegate tasks to them! I currently work with an LPN at my clinic job who is unable to approve Rx refills, and needs ME to do it, simply because that is how our employer wants it. We both get irritated at it.
The thing is, and I have always said, that education does not make one a better "person." It makes them simply, more educated. How they choose to use that education is up to them. You can be a snotty, lazy a**hole with or without a degree. The RN you mentioned above who gets annoyed at having to push an IV med for an LPN - let me assure you, that RN would be the same way at home, as a deli clerk, as a bank teller, as a UPS driver, as a housekeeper, as a secretary, as a mother. I firmly believe that is has NOTHING to do with her being an RN.
I agree that all levels of nursing are needed to make the healthcare system run smoothly and safely. But I don't agree with lumping all of us together - in any regard. We are all different. We all have different educational levels and those need to be recognized. Education, for me, is an investment. I expect a high return for my investment. When I don't get it, I get upset. And I am not talking about prestige or power. If I wanted those things, I would not have become a nurse! I am talking about being compensated for my education, being afforded the distinction of going above and beyond a "standard" of nursing - one that right now doesn't exist, or at least, hasn't been defined.
I am a huge proponent of higher education. I don't see the harm in it. A very good nurse coupled with higher learning only adds to his/her knowledgebase - not to mention, adds to him/her as a person. Education should compliment the person, should allow you to expand your horizons and open your mind. Did you know that in Greek times, a Bachelor's degree was so named because it signified the BEGINNING of your education? You weren't really considered "educated" until you reached the Master's level - hence, the name Masters. In Biblical times, Jesus was considered a teacher and promoted learning for all his followers.
The point I am trying to make is, I really don't think that most people walk around thinking the are all that simply because of thier degree. I know I don't. Some do, yes, but rest assured, before they got that degree, they thought they were all that before. I think most of us get hurt feelings because alot of our education is referred to as merely letters, or pieces of paper. And truly, it is so much more than that. It is not to say that we are better - but rather, more educated. Life experience counts for alot yes -but like I said, couple experiences with formal education, and you will have one damn good person. And by "good" I mean someone who should be able to apply both to get the job done. I am not making judgements on their moral or personal beliefs.
You're right - I am sure alot of RNs would be lost without aides or LPNs - thing is, I really wouldn't know - my experience with them has been so limited - so I have done it all. I have taken the unsafe assignment, I have done ADLs.....I am in no way above any role in the hospital. But what I am, is a person who went to college, worked my butt off and finished my degree. Am I a better person? No. Am I more educated? Yes. Am I paid more? No. Am I paid what I am worth? No. Do I have the same professional issues as an ADN, LPN? Yes. Are we both nurses? Yes.
I think our society has gotten so used to putting everyone in a pot and saying "we are all the same" so as to not offend anyone, that we are actually not recognizing differences - which leads to poor pay and lower standards, or NO standards. We need a standard by which to judge other nurses. There are nurses who go above and beyond the minimum education and attain more knowledge, more certifications. What would be the incentive for others to do the same? Personal gain? Sure...but that only goes so far.
NurseMark, I truly believe that in general, nurses function as a team. On my units, we do. We have wide range of educational levels, and truthfully, no one knows who is what. But I think that the insecurity on BOTH ends, those who belittle LPNs and those who dimiss BSNs as nothing more than letters or snobs, have more to do with the individual person and thier personal issues, rather than thier skill level.