Is it a profession/ occupation or technical discipline? Is it a science or is it art? Nurses themselves cannot agree on a single definition. It involves knowing and doing.
Many colleges consider it a technical program. Because of this designation many people feel that the respect it deserves is not present. There is a move to elevate the designation of nursing to a profession. The majority of the public would view it as a profession and a very honorable one at that.
Some of the attraction to nursing stems from the fact that it is both science and art. Nurses must be aware of how the body works and the science of medicine but, it is mixed with the ability to interact with the patient in a way that creates art. Some say it is high tech and high touch….where you can make a difference!
The definition of a nurse has evolved through time. Progress continues in a positive direction. Many people still do not understand the role of the nurse in healthcare….some may still see a nurse as a handmaiden to the doctor and this keeps many people from seeking the profession.
The modern nurse today is a partner in the healthcare team. It is a team that works with the patient. Today’s nurse must have knowledge and be capable of applying that knowledge. They need the ability to critically think and do it on the run. Doctors look to nurses for advice and have input for patient care. Complexities of care have increased at an alarming rate……the nurse today must have technical skills as well as communicative skills.
Stereotypes may exist in nursing, for example: all nurses are women and all doctors are men. These stereotypes have influenced the development and definition of nursing over the years. They influence the development of those occupations. We can dismiss these stereotypes today….. 55% of med schools consist of females and… 12-15% of nursing schools are male (with each year increasing in number).
Media has a great influence on the definition and the public’s view of nursing. Adolescents with limited exposure to actual nurses on the job will rely on media to formulate their views of nursing. These views will influence their choice of occupation. It is common to have nurses in the media shown incorrectly. Popular long running shows like ER and Greys Anatomy will have MD’s performing the nurse’s job. The nurse may be portrayed only as a romantic interest. This inaccurate picture of nursing will influence the public’s view of what an actual nurse does and may influence career choices.
As people have actual experience with the nurse in the hospital or health care setting, opinions will change. As they see independent, thinking, competent people making major contributions to health care, public definitions of nursing will change. I am amazed at how many students enter the profession because of another nurse. They have had firsthand contact with the nurse and see what they do, the influence they have on patients and healthcare. When people experience it they know the truth.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) defines nursing as: “ the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and population.”
We will discuss the history of nursing next and you will be able to see how you we have been influenced by its history in determining what nursing is today.
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