Professionalism and Education

Nurses General Nursing


Does a variety of educational preparation for entry into practice (diploma, AS, BS degree) prevent the profession of nursing from achieving full professional status?


125 Posts

No, it's not the degree or education that prevents everyone from seeing us as professionals. It's not even ourselves, or the way we perform our jobs. ---- Just take a look at the post about demanding families ---- It is the perception of the general public about what our job entails that prevents us from attaining "professional" status. The general public sees the Doctors saving their lives, they do not see the nurses calling them in the middle of the day or night, relaying to the doctor the symptoms and trying to get orders that will prevent them from coding. A lot of people say "the Doctor saved my life", how many people say "A Nurse saved my life"? Not too many. To the general public we are all bedpan pushers and glorified waitresses, at that job only to serve them. After all, they pay dearly for that room, the waitress should be a little quicker. Most do not take into account (or probably know) exactly what we do.

Boy, that sounds really cynical. But, it's true. There are few people who really appreciate what we do. Few people who realize that their nurse has had an indepth discussion about what would be in the patient's best interest, or caught a symptom that had been missed by another "professional". Some would be appalled to know that the doctor asked, "well, what do I need to order?"

We all know nursing is a multi-faceted job. We all know how technical it can be, how stressing and demanding. And, we all know how touching one of those few patients can be who truly appreciate when you go a little extra for them.

We are professionals, no matter what the degree, no matter what the public, our administrators, or even each other may think.

Angel Nurse

5 Posts

I would have to agree with you justanurse but do you think that having several different degree's (as, bs, diploma) discredits us? If we had just one degree (AS) for nursing do you think people would have an easier time recognizing us as professionals or does the diversity help us with our professional status?


125 Posts

We do all have varying degrees. But, we all have to pass the same test to practice what we have learned. To the public, we are all "just nurses". I don't think the public really thinks of us as professionals. Professionalism is the way we present ourselves, not just the degree behind our license. I am glad our profession is a diverse as the people who are nurses. Nurses are now taught to be sensitive and tolerant to diverse cultures. We should also embrace our diverse educations.

Now, how do we promote our status as professionals? We should demand to be treated professionally, be it from patients, families, co-workers, administrations, or other professions. We should continue to treat our patients professionally. And, we should educate whenever we can that we are professionals doing a very important job.


244 Posts

I don't know about all of you, but I have always thought of professionalism not as the degree someone holds, but the work ethics, attitiudes, appearance, and actions someone takes.

I feel that if we want to be considered professionals, we must first act as professionals. (Not that most of us don't, but the nurses that seem to be remembered by the public are the ones that do not act like professionals).

I am not sure what to do about this, but It's just my opinion.


12 Posts

I thought the nurses in the US are viewed as more professionals then they are over here in Germany,but I guess I was way off! Over here we have the same problem and we are fighting the same thing,to get viewed as a profession not as a better waitress(by the way they get better tips) I think a lot of people don't know and don't see all the work we do.They don't see that we often know more about our field then the new doc or Resident and help them out big time to keep them fromm making mistakes that could harm the patient big time.

But you know what, I know I am a good nurse and I have that attitude that shows I am confident in what I am doing and have rarely problems with Doctors or patients.

Julie, RN

139 Posts

Oooh...I just had to pipe in when I read someone mentioned professionalism and appearance!

I agree with that point of view, appearance is a part of presenting one's self as a professional. I'll admit I come from a military background so maybe I'm a little biased....but, I still feel nurses should come to work: neat, clean, unwrinkled uniforms, NO t-shirts, NO dirty old running shoes, hair done nicely, and so on. To my surprise, some nurses seem to have a tough time living up to this standard.

How about some of you other nurses, have you noticed this going on? And what has your facility/unit done about it?

[This message has been edited by Julie,SN (edited May 31, 2000).]


1,301 Posts


Excellent topic for discussion. Yes and no to the question. I think that inadequate, inconsistent nursing leadership has greatly impacted nurse professionalism. I feel that nursing education should be consistently rigorous, in class and at the bedside, and nursing instructors be consistently knowledgeable, compassionate, positive leaders, facilitors, and role models. I feel this way regarding the role of nursing administrators, supervisors, and preceptors as well. I've wondered, at times, why some of the instructors I had went into nursing education.

The issue of educational levels has basically provided outside forces, in particular, with ammunition to pit one nursing group against another for their own gain. I think restructuring educational levels and nurse practice acts will help advance nursing as a profession, reduce internal and external conflict, and prepare nursing to meet the challenges of the 21st century.


8 Posts

The patient does not know what kind of degree you have....all they know is how you care for them and how you treat them/interact with them. They are also very aware of your appearance....I agree that the dress code for nurses has definitely gone down hill over the past 10-15 years and I think it all started with the disappearance of nursing caps. No, I do not want to go back to wearing a cap and I am an ED nurse who wears scrubs...but I can assure you that my scrubs are always neatly pressed as is by cover jacket. My shoes do not look like I've been playing in a mud pit and my clothing is not so tight that you can see the outlines of my underthings!!! Am I striking any nerves here??? I see many staff in my facility, both professional and non-professional dressed in inappropriate ways and it is really disheartening. No wonder we are not taken seriously.

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