I tried real hard to ignore this and I don't know if anyone has commented on this but, ! This comment has offended me to no end. What was the original training if nursing is retraining???? Are you saying that people who've been through adversity should not be allowed into the nursing profession because they are lazy and stupid? Because let's just face it, when you say, 'people on the edges of society', you are implying that only the cream of the crop of the societal classes are good enough to be nurses and that's classist.
It's outrageous to me that you can combine, 'prostitutes, welfare mothers, edges of society and quick, easy, doesn't take any real brain power', in the same sentence and post it here like you've been privy to all of the aforementioned's social work sessions and have the inside scoop on the motives of the social worker or the afflicted for that matter. Those who were on the fringes of society are very beneficial to the nursing profession and those 'fringe benefits' provide something that according to your logic, has no place in nursing.
Let me expound on this point. Working as a tech in an acute care setting, one day I was providing care for a pt who was malnourished. This pt had been calling for the nurse repeatedly and after I finished my care I reported to the RN the pt's wishes. I watched this nurse reluctantly get up from charting and go into the pt's room. After a few minutes the nurse came out and I gave her an apologetic smile for having interrupted her charting to which she replied, 'I'm sorry, but when you choose to buy crack instead of food, it's nothing I can do for you.', and sat back down to chart.
Here's another...one day while assisting in an ICU transfer, I packed up this pt's valuables and took them downstairs to the safe but because of additional required paperwork, I handed the valuables off to the pt's nurse to complete the process and take them down again once the paperwork was completed. A few days later a couple of nurses were complaining about how difficult this one particular pt was and was surprised to see the ICU transfer back on the floor being the thorn in everyone's shoes. When assisting this pt later on I found out that all the pt wanted was to know where their valuables were. Because one of the complaining nurses was the same one that took the valuables downstairs in the first place I was upset that instead of calling security, they wouldn't just tell the pt where their things were. After I explained where the valuables were and the pt calmed down, I walked out to the nursing station to cheers from the other nurses on being able to handle him while his previous nurse went on and on about how all he wants is medication.
Now, before you say that the nurse provided care for the pt and that's all that matters, I beg to differ. To my understanding of what nursing is, the pt should be treated holistically. When care is given with a disdainful attitude, look or gesture, the pt can feel this and it does absolutely nothing for their self esteem. Yes, self esteem, it's a very real part of who a person/pt is and the 'fringe benefit' nurse knows this more than most, because negative alterations where this is concerned is what sends them to the fringes to begin with.
So the 'fringe benefit' nurse will provide the invaluable, therapeutic sympathy so important to positive pt outcomes, having walked through the murk and mire, survived it and went on to reach back and help another in need of some kindness. Oh, I know, every nurse can empathize with a pt, but the 'fringe benefit' nurse is less likely to look down their noses when encountering their pts and are more likely to take that extra minute to comfort them. They'll also be less likely to ignore their pt's calls out of disdain for the pts personal practices. See how wrong you were in your logic? :)
In most cases, it's because of the adversity faced and overcame that motivates those less than perfect members of our society to become nurses. In those cases, they wind up being at the top of their classes and far from dumb, stupid and lazy. They realize where they've been and how they felt when they were there, they've search themselves to heal and overcome their fractured souls and they invite a higher power in to guide their lives. Having discovered a new life for themselves, they seek to join the ranks of a noble profession because in the end, it is all about the caring. So what you may call a last option, may just be the first option in a new life.