Change title of "Nurse"? - page 3

Hello, I'm a junior year nursing student and this question seems to come up alot: why not change the title of "Nurse"? It doesn't bother me too much because I care more about taking care of... Read More

  1. by   Beowoulf
    i wish i could share with you the 90 minute presentation i did in a seminar for my master in nursing degree entitled gender issues in nursing. a major conclusion was that the name needed to change for the benefit of both male and female nurses.

    despite a long history of men in "nurse-like" positions (e.g. knights templar, the knights hospitallers, the teutonic knights, the parabolani, the augustinian brothers, and many more...), for all practical purposes, nursing history seems to begin with florence nightengale and is steeped in female nature and history.

    it is no secret that women were 2nd class citizens until very recently (and in some places, still). it is that female nature and history that contributes to nursing being seen as a 2nd class profession - though that image is changing. come on, men (and even women), if you were (are) a nursing student in recent years, how many times were you asked, "why did you choose nursing?? you seem smart enough to have been a doctor!"

    the "2nd class-ness" that was and is associated with women is also associated with nursing. just look how nurses are treated. if it had been a man's profession from the beginning, nurses would have power and respect comparable to doctors (and the money!) i have checked this out with all of my friends and without exception, consciously or unconsciously, they all held the image that "nurse" was essentially "hand-maiden" to the doctor. you only have to look at tv or the movies to see it reinforced over and over.

    the history and nature of the word "nurse" is tainted with the decades of women's oppression. the percentage of men in nursing has held in the 4 to 6 percent range for decades. women have poured into traditional male fields but the reverse trend has not happened and will not happen until some perceptions change - not only in hollywood, but in nursing schools as well!

    among other much needed changes, it's time to update the job title.

    p.s. i've always favored the title "emperor," myself...
    Last edit by Beowoulf on Sep 20, '06
  2. by   Corvette Guy
    Beowoulf, in your 90 min presentation did you offer an updated job title?
  3. by   Beowoulf
    Quote from Corvette Guy
    Beowoulf, in your 90 min presentation did you offer an updated job title?
    That topic was one of the discussion questions at the end of the 90 minutes. No consensus could be reached. Maybe the ANA or CNA could take it up at their next national conventions! Then the ANA would be the A?A ...
  4. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Changing the name is a waste of time.

    No amount of hyping 'sanitation engineer' has made a janitor NOT a janitor.

    I'm just not much into PC tokenism.

    I'm a nurse. If I weren't comfortable with the title, the JOB itself would have long ago done me in.

    A rose by any other name. . .

    I'm neither convinced nor convicted that any perceptions of nursing are bound up in semantics alone. Neither would they be improved by semantics alone.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
  5. by   Beowoulf
    Quote from zashagalka
    no amount of hyping 'sanitation engineer' has made a janitor not a janitor.
    i think the word we finally settled on with regard to the lowly janitor is "custodian" .. precisely because the word "janitor" came to mean "low, unskilled, looked-down-upon person." (e.g. "your father is a janitor!") "custodian" is a kinder, more sensitive word that has yet to acquire the judgement often associated - consciously or unconsciously - with the word "janitor."

    i couldn't disagree with you more. words have terrific power in influencing our interpretations and judgements. i can think of a few racial words that people would not dream of using today because of the negativity associated with them ... whereas these words were acceptable in polite company a century or so ago. (e.g. read tom sawyer...)

    as you point out, changing the title alone is not nearly enough. the things that rob nurses of social power and prestige (and money) are as pervasive as the things that rob women in general of the very same things.

    words are the physicians of the mind diseased. aeschylus, prometheus bound
    greek tragic dramatist (525 bc - 456 bc)
    for me, words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.
    ingrid bengis

    language exerts hidden power, like a moon on the tides. rita mae brown, starting from scratch, 1988
    us author and social activist
    words are always getting conventionalized to some secondary meaning. it is one of the works of poetry to take the truants in custody and bring them back to their right senses.
    william butler yeats (1865–1939), irish poet, playwright. letter, feb. 3, 1889. collected letters, vol. 1, ed. john kelly (1986).
    Last edit by Beowoulf on Sep 20, '06
  6. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Quote from beowoulf
    i think the word we finally settled on with regard to the lowly janitor is "custodian" .. precisely because the word "janitor" came to mean "low, unskilled, looked-down-upon person." (e.g. "your father is a janitor!") "custodian" is a kinder, more sensitive word that has yet to acquire the judgement often associated - consciously or unconsciously - with the word "janitor."

    i couldn't disagree with you more. words have terrific power in influencing our interpretations and judgements. i can think of a few racial words that people would not dream of using today because of the negativity associated with them ... whereas these words were acceptable in polite company a century or so ago. (e.g. read tom sawyer...)

    as you point out, changing the title alone is not nearly enough. the things that rob nurses of social power and prestige (and money) are as pervasive as the things that rob women in general of the very same things.

    words are the physicians of the mind diseased. aeschylus, prometheus bound
    greek tragic dramatist (525 bc - 456 bc)
    for me, words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.
    ingrid bengis

    language exerts hidden power, like a moon on the tides. rita mae brown, starting from scratch, 1988
    us author and social activist
    words are always getting conventionalized to some secondary meaning. it is one of the works of poetry to take the truants in custody and bring them back to their right senses.
    william butler yeats (1865–1939), irish poet, playwright. letter, feb. 3, 1889. collected letters, vol. 1, ed. john kelly (1986).
    you missed my point entirely, and it is not the same as comparing the title, nurse, to the word you hint at in tom sawyer.

    i actually do subscribe to the notion that language is power. and, in lots of key ways, the 'language' of nursing describes a 2nd rate power loss: doctor while we are are first named substitutes for each other. nursing diagnoses themselves are a language generated succession of power. or look at the whole debate about 'professionalism' to see how semantics alone can divide a profession.

    but the question is this: does the term 'nurse' define the shortcomings that you refer to, or do the shortcomings define the term, 'nurse'.

    change the shortcomings themselves and you change the meaning of the title. changing the actual title does little to change that undercurrent. i don't subscribe to the notion that window dressing the title of my job will have any real affect on the shortcomings you describe.

    the problem is that you will not find a consensus on any such new title. the result will serve only to entrench the very power robbing symptoms you describe.

    the solutions to the problems you describe lie much deeper than a name change. more to the point, real solutions to such problems will change the meaning of a name more than just a name change. a focus on changing the title only serves to distract from the underlying problems.

    and, any successful title change would only serve to satiate needs best met by actually meeting the true needs of this profession. in short, it would only be window dressing.

    ~faith,
    timothy.
    Last edit by ZASHAGALKA on Sep 21, '06
  7. by   ZASHAGALKA
    I thought of a valid comparison. Look at the word, 'secretary'. It is subject to many attempts, just like this, to change its title to something more neutral.

    Now think about it like this: Secretary Condi Rice. Do you think she needs her title changed to 'office manager' in order to get respect?

    It's not the title, it's everything the title stands for.

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
  8. by   caroladybelle
    Quote from beowoulf
    it is no secret that women were 2nd class citizens until very recently (and in some places, still). it is that female nature and history that contributes to nursing being seen as a 2nd class profession - though that image is changing. come on, men (and even women), if you were (are) a nursing student in recent years, how many times were you asked, "why did you choose nursing?? you seem smart enough to have been a doctor!"

    the "2nd class-ness" that was and is associated with women is also associated with nursing. just look how nurses are treated. if it had been a man's profession from the beginning, nurses would have power and respect comparable to doctors (and the money!) i have checked this out with all of my friends and without exception, consciously or unconsciously, they all held the image that "nurse" was essentially "hand-maiden" to the doctor. you only have to look at tv or the movies to see it reinforced over and over.
    you know, there is a very easy answer to the "why are you not a doctor?" it is, "because i did not want to be a doctor - i wanted to do something better with my life." because i think what i do is better than what many mds do.

    i have had the usual number of people/patients/families call me dr. carolina because they respected my knowledge and my abilities. i correct them and explain that i have pride in the title nurse and that dr is not better. nor smarter.

    my ego does not rely on my title. and media portrays plenty of professions badly (lawyer, teacher, police officer, undertaker, plastic surgeon).

    be aware that bank tellers, shop keepers, teachers and indeed military healthcare workers started out as "man's professions from the beginning" and yet do not get held in higher regard.
  9. by   Corvette Guy
    Quote from caroladybelle
    You know, there is a very easy answer to the "Why are you not a doctor?" It is, "Because I did not want to be a doctor - I wanted to do something better with my life." Because I think what I do IS better than what many MDs do.

    I have had the usual number of people/patients/families call me Dr. Carolina because they respected my knowledge and my abilities. I correct them and explain that I have pride in the title nurse and that Dr is not better. Nor smarter.

    My ego does not rely on my title. And media portrays plenty of professions badly (lawyer, teacher, police officer, undertaker, plastic surgeon).

    Be aware that bank tellers, shop keepers, teachers and indeed military healthcare workers started out as "man's professions from the beginning" and yet do not get held in higher regard.
    Actually, males were not allowed commission into the Reserve Army Nurse Corps until 1955 and into the Regular Army Nurse Corps six years later even though the ANC was founded in 1901.

    However, if your referring to Army Medics, or Navy Corpsmen, which are equivalent to EMTs [yet, still very valuable], then yes there were military healthcare positions first held by men.
  10. by   caroladybelle
    Quote from Corvette Guy
    Actually, males were not allowed commission into the Reserve Army Nurse Corps until 1955 and into the Regular Army Nurse Corps six years later even though the ANC was founded in 1901.

    However, if your referring to Army Medics, or Navy Corpsmen, which are equivalent to EMTs [yet, still very valuable], then yes there were military healthcare positions first held by men.
    Actually I was referring to healthcare farther back in history.
  11. by   Corvette Guy
    Quote from caroladybelle
    Originally Posted by Corvette Guy
    Actually, males were not allowed commission into the Reserve Army Nurse Corps until 1955 and into the Regular Army Nurse Corps six years later even though the ANC was founded in 1901.

    However, if your referring to Army Medics, or Navy Corpsmen, which are equivalent to EMTs [yet, still very valuable], then yes there were military healthcare positions first held by men.

    ...
    Actually I was referring to healthcare farther back in history.
    Yes ma'am, understood... and I do see now your line of thought.
  12. by   HYPEractiveTTU
    I think there is a lot of "preaching to the choir" when many say that if you don't like the job title, then don't enter the field. There are gentlemen who have posted here who have been through years of the stereotyping, and have helped pave that road for all of us... THAT must have been tough, and I have utter respect for all of you. I see why after all these years of defending the profession, many of you would be very opposed to changing the name to just be PC.

    My opinion comes from a "business" side. I'm a former marketing guy who changed paths and am currently in nursing school. Everything that I learned and experienced while in marketing tells me that the name DOES have a huge impact on how the "product" is interpreted, and directs the demographic it is "sold" to. When I first decided on entering the nursing field, i was continuously asked why I don't just go to Med school, or Physical Therapy school, or PA school... the general public cannot shake the "hellloooooo nurse," stereotype. No matter what our experiences have been, when the general public hears of a "male nurse"... the image is immediatly demasculinized.

    My nursing class has the national average of 6% males, and at first it was very intimidating. I wish more guys could see past the name and old dress-hat-apron uniforms and see nursing as the intense, technological, and scientific career where the FOUNDATION of the job is to actually care about the welfare of the patient. To some, it may be "wrong" to change the name of nursing to encourage more guys to enter the field... but from a business side... it is probably the most effective way to increase the male population in nursing rather than entering other health careers simply because they have more androgynous names (physical therapist, physician's assistant, radiology technician).

    It seems that the medical model is starting their own tract which has moved into the nursing scope of practice which has the androgynous name that guys don't mind being called (ex. medical assistant). If this keeps up, and a medical-model equivalent to the RN is formed, what happens then? Will the difference in the medical/nursing tracts revert back to include gender? Also, if you look at the entrance rates of PA's to NP's (2nd bachelor, direct-entry programs), MANY more guys are either ENTERING or CONSIDERING entering the PA profession rather than the NP even when the NP has their own license, and given more autonomy than the PA in many states... why is this? I'm guessing it's because no matter how great the profession is... "joe blow" would rather be called an "PHYSICIAN assistant" than a "NURSE practitioner."

    (just so I don't criticize without offering a solution. In latin America, the title of Nurse has both feminine and masculine connotations: "Enfermero" for gentlemen, and "Enfermera" for ladies (derived from "Infirmary")... maybe somehow borrow that idea?)
    Last edit by HYPEractiveTTU on Sep 21, '06
  13. by   jb2u
    Quote from HYPEractiveTTU
    It seems that the medical model is starting their own tract which has moved into the nursing scope of practice which has the androgynous name that guys don't mind being called (ex. medical assistant).
    Just a note..I worked as a medical assistant and 1) when I went to medical assisting school...there was less males in the class then in my current Nursing program and 2) when I worked in a Doctor's office...the pt's always said "oh a male nurse" whenever I walked into the room. What does this mean? Well, simply that the public is ignorant about Nursing and what it means to be a nurse. They did not differentiate between MA (which is more like a cna) and a Nurse. That is the problem. Let's educate the public about what a Nurse is and what a Nurse does. Then if more males feel like "joining the ranks" then I welcome them.

    Maybe it's just me, but I really don't care if more males enter the profession. I just want professional, caring people to enter the profession. I did not look at how many Nurses were male before I entered Nursing school and I don't really care if it ever changes. Why? Because it doesn't take away or add to the reason why I entered this wonderful profession.....I want to care for the pt as a whole, I want to use my education, I want to be challenged, and I want to be able to support my wife and kids.

    Sure, it would be nice to have more "men" on the floor that I could relate to better, but I did not choose nursing to find friends or build up my masculine identity. The basic formula for why I chose Nursing still hasn't changed and it has nothing to do with how many men are in Nursing. I encourage any man that wants a great career where they can use their mind, use their heart, and use technology to help heal patients to join the Nursing profession. If they are so fragile to stay out of Nursing because of the title..well, then maybe PA school, Med school, or Medical assisting school is a better choice for them. Just my opinion, of course!

    Sincerely,
    Jay

close