It's interesting what the public knows. First of all I have seen MAs, CNAs and even Vet techs called "nurses" which I do find offensive, though it is usually by the office staff or receptionist and not anyone with an actual liscense behind their name.
I am always told "wow you are too young to be a nurse" and "I bet you were in school for YEARS!" and "you must be so intelligent to be where you are now". So that tells me that the public does think that nurses are well educated (most of them don't know there is a 2 year option) and intelligent.
The hospital in town is primary care. They are just transitioning back to CNAs on some floors now. However when I emptied the trash or changed the linens or helped patients to the bathroom they would always say "oh, that isn't your job. don't you have an assistant for that?".
I took pride in being able to do those little things for the patient, because some key assessments are made during this time. IE how they ambulate to the bathroom, what does their skin look like, what junk food is in their garbage that they shouldn't be eating. Besides just the assessment part of it, I felt as if I was actually physically HELPING someone which was the main reason I became a nurse in the first place.
Perhaps the public's knowledge of nurses and what they do varies in areas of the country, as does the ability to read and percentage that have a high school education or other degree.
I don't think we can stop the "elevation" of nursing. Look at all the others. . .physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists. They all need advanced degrees to practice. However if they are going to require it for one profession they should accross the board -- xray techs, sonographers, respiratory therapy, etc should all be expected to have "advanced" degrees in that case.
ok that was kind of long and rambling.