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What, exactly, IS a nurse?

Pre-Nursing Article   (857 Views 7 Replies 675 Words)

NurseTrishBSN has 15 years experience as a CNA, RN and works as a Charge Nurse, Unit Educator, MSN Student.

2 Followers; 3 Articles; 727 Visitors; 15 Posts

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My personal definitions of a nurse before and after I became one as well as a brief history and summary of some types of nurses.

What, exactly, IS a nurse?

DEFINITION OF A NURSE

MY EARLY DEFINITION

I am embarrassed to say before becoming a nursing assistant, I had no idea what a nurse actually was or entailed. I thought a nurse was basically a caregiver for a patient who also gave them medications. While that is not entirely untrue, there is so much more to nursing and infinite possibilities as to what setting of nursing you want to be.

MY DEFINITION NOW

A nurse is an advocate. A teacher, a healer. Someone with a thorough understanding of science and how disease processes work in the body. A nurse is an educator, a communicator, and the ultimate organizer. A nurse will put your needs before his or her own and will speak up when something isn’t right.

HISTORY OF NURSING

Has anyone ever heard of Florence Nightingale? The lady with the lamp? She is basically the founder of nursing. During the Crimean War, she became known for training other nurses to care for the wounded soldiers and developed a method to improve nursing in her time.

Fast forward many years and you can see the evolution of nursing from emptying chamber pots to being the physicians' handmaiden to now organizing treatment plans, advising lawmakers, creating systems of health care, as well as various roles at the bedside, operating rooms, computer technology, education systems, and politics. You can become a nurse practitioner and depending on which state you practice, you can have your own health clinic or run an emergency room. Nurses are everywhere!

What is the one driving force that evolved nursing as a profession? Education!

You can now obtain your doctorate in nursing and more and more nurses are furthering their education as they advance in their careers.

TIP

Have an education plan. How far do you want to go as of now? There is no “right” or ‘Wrong” way. Do what’s best for you! Revisit your education plan every year as you gain experience in nursing. Nursing is a lifelong career of learning, you never know where you will want to go in another year from now.

TYPES OF “NURSES”

When I say “Nurse” what comes to mind? Most commonly we see our primary doctor or pediatrician, therefore the “nurse” in that setting is likely a Medical Tech or MT.

The next most common “nurse” the public might find is the school nurse. A lot of times this is not an RN but either a MT, CNA (certified nursing assistant), or an LPN (licensed practical nurse). There might be an RN who oversees the school nurses in an area of the county but usually, each individual school nurse is not an RN.

In the healthcare setting, you have “nursing” in this order.  CNA, LPN, RN (ADN), RN (BSN), APRN (MSN), APRN (DNP). At the masters and doctorate levels, there are multiple branches and types of nursing in which you can specialize. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, just a very basic example of the types of nursing education you might see.

NURSES ARE EVOLVING

As Healthcare changes and evolves, nurses will too. We will have to in order to meet the needs of our communities and to overcome the challenges we will face in the upcoming years.

  • Nursing can basically be found in almost every job sector.
  • If you try one area of nursing and discover it isn’t for you, you can switch!
  • You can move from bedside nursing to leadership or education, and back to the bedside.

Do you have a plan?

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Nurse Trish is a Progressive Care Charge Nurse and Unit Educator at an inpatient Cardiac Unit in Atlanta, GA. She also hosts a show, "The Honest Nurse", found anywhere you listen to podcasts.

2 Followers; 3 Articles; 727 Visitors; 15 Posts

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Caprica6 has 10 years experience.

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5 hours ago, NurseTrishBSN said:

 CNA, LPN, RN (ADN), RN (BSN), APRN (MSN), APRN (DNP).

You forgot to add PhD and a DNP prepared nurse is not necessarily an Advanced Practice RN ;) 

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True. However, nowadays with the nursing shortage nurses are also housekeeping, dietary, pharmacy, computer engineer, IT, bible club, prayer club, Sponge Bob, the Flintstones, etc. Y'all get the message. We're so busy being everything and everybody else that we can't be the full time nurses we're supposed to be.

OK, end rant. Just hate what we're expected to do while simultaneously being punished if a checkbox isn't clicked in a certain time frame, or we don't give sleeping granny pain meds because their granddaughter finally decides to show up after granny been in the ICU umpteen days and was just downgraded to step-down.  The impending PTSD is real! 😭

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NurseTrishBSN has 15 years experience as a CNA, RN and works as a Charge Nurse, Unit Educator, MSN Student.

2 Followers; 3 Articles; 727 Visitors; 15 Posts

On 5/13/2019 at 2:09 PM, Caprica6 said:

You forgot to add PhD and a DNP prepared nurse is not necessarily an Advanced Practice RN ;) 

Yes, that is why I said “in the healthcare setting” as in, direct patient care. We do have other nurses but I mostly wanted to highlight more if those directly working with patients 😁

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NurseTrishBSN has 15 years experience as a CNA, RN and works as a Charge Nurse, Unit Educator, MSN Student.

2 Followers; 3 Articles; 727 Visitors; 15 Posts

33 minutes ago, NurseBlaq said:

True. However, nowadays with the nursing shortage nurses are also housekeeping, dietary, pharmacy, computer engineer, IT, bible club, prayer club, Sponge Bob, the Flintstones, etc. Y'all get the message. We're so busy being everything and everybody else that we can't be the full time nurses we're supposed to be.

OK, end rant. Just hate what we're expected to do while simultaneously being punished if a checkbox isn't clicked in a certain time frame, or we don't give sleeping granny pain meds because their granddaughter finally decides to show up after granny been in the ICU umpteen days and was just downgraded to step-down.  The impending PTSD is real! 😭

Nursing can definitely be stressful, I used to work in a place like that. I’m lucky I’ve found another company that takes care of their nurses, they do exist!

Edited by NurseTrishBSN

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rrehak has 10 years experience.

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I would like to submit an opposite view.  We have over-valued nursing to the point that we are burning ourselves out of the profession.  Nurses earn degrees, but providing basic care has become the purview of people with on the job training or a few days of classes.

Meanwhile, many advanced degree nurses are no longer at the bedside.  They run the units, do research, and write prescriptions.  No matter the profession, there is always a disconnect when the leaders are no longer on the front line.

When did feeding someone, re-positioning them, or helping them to the bathroom become the lesser part of nursing?  Or to some, not even "real" nursing at all?  It's as if caring for someone isn't nursing unless you have a college degree.

We've pushed ourselves to work crazy hours while studying for higher and higher degrees.  We move into roles that devalue basic care unless we can control it with our advanced knowledge.  We are sales people, selling the myth that knowledge equals compassion.  Knowledge is power, but that doesn't make anyone a kinder nurse.

When programs are designed to move from one education level to another with little practical experience, then it's all about the title and not the reason for this profession.  When the pinnacle of the profession is to be a doctor's substitute (NP), then is it really nursing at all? I've known too many nurses who can't be bothered to be kind to their coworkers, work as a team, and who hide in their offices when call lights are going off all over the unit.  Is that really nursing?  

Science can teach us a lot of things, but it doesn't teach us to be better people.  True nurses choose this profession because they want to provide help for those in need.  If the goal is only to advance your career, be a manager, or believe you have all the answers because you studied anatomy, that's not nursing.

We are the most trusted profession.  It's time we ask ourselves if that is because we have titles or because people expect us to be there for them.

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NurseTrishBSN has 15 years experience as a CNA, RN and works as a Charge Nurse, Unit Educator, MSN Student.

2 Followers; 3 Articles; 727 Visitors; 15 Posts

35 minutes ago, rrehak said:

I would like to submit an opposite view.  We have over-valued nursing to the point that we are burning ourselves out of the profession.  Nurses earn degrees, but providing basic care has become the purview of people with on the job training or a few days of classes.

Meanwhile, many advanced degree nurses are no longer at the bedside.  They run the units, do research, and write prescriptions.  No matter the profession, there is always a disconnect when the leaders are no longer on the front line.

When did feeding someone, re-positioning them, or helping them to the bathroom become the lesser part of nursing?  Or to some, not even "real" nursing at all?  It's as if caring for someone isn't nursing unless you have a college degree.

We've pushed ourselves to work crazy hours while studying for higher and higher degrees.  We move into roles that devalue basic care unless we can control it with our advanced knowledge.  We are sales people, selling the myth that knowledge equals compassion.  Knowledge is power, but that doesn't make anyone a kinder nurse.

When programs are designed to move from one education level to another with little practical experience, then it's all about the title and not the reason for this profession.  When the pinnacle of the profession is to be a doctor's substitute (NP), then is it really nursing at all? I've known too many nurses who can't be bothered to be kind to their coworkers, work as a team, and who hide in their offices when call lights are going off all over the unit.  Is that really nursing?  

Science can teach us a lot of things, but it doesn't teach us to be better people.  True nurses choose this profession because they want to provide help for those in need.  If the goal is only to advance your career, be a manager, or believe you have all the answers because you studied anatomy, that's not nursing.

We are the most trusted profession.  It's time we ask ourselves if that is because we have titles or because people expect us to be there for them.

I am okay with agreeing to disagree here. Just because someone advances their degree does not mean that is their only goal. I’ve worked with many different nurses, bedside, management, and advanced practice who are all passionate about providing high quality care to patients, especially those with lack of access to healthcare. This is how we meet the needs of others, by adapting and growing the profession, not by changing it. There are poor examples in all fields it does not speak for the whole. Nursing is flexible in that we can bring many things to the table in order to do what’s most important and that is to take care of the patient.

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rrehak has 10 years experience.

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NurseTrish - Thank you for your fair and thoughtful response to my comment.  I realize my words may have sounded harsh, but I was trying to make a point.

I honestly do respect nurses who have gone on in school.  The body of knowledge we've accumulated and the science behind nursing are very important.  Yes, there are nurses at all levels who do provide quality patient care.

Patients or families will call almost anyone in scrubs a nurse.  They trust all of us to provide excellent care.  It seems we're the ones spending so much time cataloging our roles.  And too often, basic caregiving is diminished in the pursuit of higher goals.   I wish we valued everyone's contributions more.  

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