Professional Professionals

Nursing Thoughts (

Wow, Azygos hit the nail on the head with this entry about the nursing school experience. It definitely took me back to the very recent past when I was drudging through the challenges of nursing school bull shit.

That’s right, bull shit. I will spare you my details as the list would be long, but distinguished. The main point is that each and every one of us has had to deal with the crap that we nurses let fly. If we aren’t aiming directly at one of our colleagues, the splatter is sure to pepper those who just happen to be strolling by.

Rants exist far and wide as to why we do this to ourselves. They invariably reach into the, ‘why aren’t nurses considered professionals? Why isn’t this looked upon as a profession?’ The next obvious step is to say either that we are just not understood, or that the outside needs to change their view on us, it isn’t our fault! I again say in a loud, albeit typed voice, BULL SHIT!

Azygos is absolutely correct! Until we decided to actually be nice, play fair, and protect our own, the outside is going to call us like they see us. We may be in one of the most publicly respected professions, but until we start acting like professionals, working like professionals, and being professionals, our peers won’t believe that we are.

In a graduating class of approximately 32 nurses (from a small community college that had a 100% NCLEX pass rate for 3 years running), I was the only one who had committed to continuing my education. I hardly ever recall the professors discussing advanced nursing education with us, if they ever did. This was old school nursing where wearing a nursing cap was still optional.

Imagine my amazement as I walked into the doors of the hallowed University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing which hails the likes of Dr. Linda Aiken, who’s lead JAMA article on nursing education levels made national front page news. (Aiken, L.H., Clarke, S.P., Cheung, R.B., Sloane, D.M., & Silber, J.H. (2003). Education levels of hospital nurses and patient mortality. Journal of the American Medical Association, 290, 1617-1623.) Dr. Norma Lang, internationally known for her work in nursing languages (“If we cannot name it (nursing), we cannot control it, practice it, research it, teach it, finance it, or put it into public policy”). Dr. Kathleen McCauley (president of the AACN) who is the second most fired up nurse I have ever met. The most fired up? That definitely goes to Dr. Loretta Sweet Jemmott who is one of the nation’s leading researchers on in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention among African American adolescents.

I say this not to brag about my alma matter, but to highlight the amazing NURSES who are the absolute forefront of our profession. Being surrounded by greatness makes greatness obtainable, reasonable and expected. Once we begin to expect greatness by including our young instead of beating them into some sort of perverse submission we will indeed be looked at as a profession by the public, our peers, and more importantly—ourselves.

Nothing worth achieving is going to be easy. Nursing isn’t easy. Nursing school isn’t easy, and shouldn’t be. We are taking more and more responsibility at the bedside as technology advances. For you who are at the beginnings of your nursing education, take heart (especially you Third Degree Nurse!). It is doable, it is achievable. I have felt your pain, I understand your pain. It is worth the pain.

Now I see my rant has grown to epic proportions. I am also seeing more focus as to what this blog needs to be about, what I need it to be about.