To some people nursing is a profession that requires continuous reading and keeping up with technology. Others view it as a holy and noble profession because it gives services directly to people in various humane ways. Some people believe that nursing is an honorable profession that requires sacrifice and great responsibilities. Sadly, there are some individuals who have a twisted view of nursing, thinking that this profession does not require a bachelor of science degree and that nurses do not need to be that good in what they do. Some people view nursing as merely equivalent to care giving practice that do not need comprehensive and scientific knowledge and theory. Others think that nurses are simply assistants and servants to the medical doctors. There are different viewpoints of nursing as a profession. It is important that we educate those who are ignorant about what nursing is, correct misconceptions and strive to elevate the standards of nursing as a profession.
What is a profession? A profession is defined as an entity that continuously enlarges the body of scientific knowledge, and it has the autonomy to function in formulation of policy as it maintains high standards of achievement and conduct. Nursing is a profession and we continue to expand our knowledge base. We have great expectations for highly educated nurses and this must continue to increase, not diminish. It is important that standards for entry into this profession shall reflect the depth and rigor of programs.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) defines nursing as the protection, promotion and optimization of health and abilities, the prevention of illness and injury, and the alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities and populations. Given this credible and dignified definition of nursing, people must understand that there is a need for scientific knowledge base and theory in order to properly protect, promote, improve health, prevent illness, and alleviate suffering among humans. Nursing care does not only involve bathing patients, feeding them, and assisting them to get out of bed or turning them to sides when they are bedridden. Nurses are educated about the various concepts of nursing care such as proper assessment through vital signs taking, physical examination, and nursing history taking; formulation of nursing diagnosis which needs the ability to analyze health problems based on assessment findings; nursing care interventions both pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods as well as knowing the rationale of every medical intervention that must be implemented. Nursing care is not merely being able to treat human responses but evaluation measures must be included as well. It takes one to be knowledgeable in order to advocate for clients in the health care setting. Thus, nursing is indeed a profession that requires nurses to be not only compassionate, but also competent, confident and to critically think.
Historically, the most important dimension of nursing is to take care and to manage clients but now there is a new paradigm referring to health care management that focus on applying the standards of nursing caretaking practices. There is a great role for nurse leaders to play in upholding the standards since nurses are used to the easy tasks and routines. This also poses a challenge to the appreciation of professional education in nursing as subjects must now be aimed to teach how to administrate/manage in the health care setting. It must be stipulated that nursing students must gain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter the appropriate professional register through theory and practice by acquiring a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. These nursing students commencing a nursing degree must not only aim for an academic qualification, but must also undertake a professional qualification that prepares them for a highly skilled and responsible role.
Upholding the standards of nursing as a profession means ensuring high quality education for students before they become professional nurses and showing excellence in theory and practice as registered nurses. Hence, better teaching while at the university requires greater transparency in areas such as academic feedback, a strong foundation in the course curriculum, and implementation of a baccalaureate degree from an institute of higher education. The nursing profession must reach a common ground for the entry-level degree. The call for all registered nurses to advance their education in order to enhance quality and safety of nursing care across health care settings must be echoed. We must advocate for growth in nursing practice and education, challenge nurses to advance their education, offer students the baccalaureate degree, voice out for federal or government funding for initiatives that can facilitate and help nurses seeking academic progression and show in our practice that we are critical thinkers caring for lives with dignity.