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The Nursing Profession: Absolutely Nuts Or Totally Unique?

Nursing is an extremely interesting profession. It’s either absolutely off the deep end or it’s totally unique. From the entry levels of practice to the terminal degrees available, nursing doesn’t look like, act like or educate like any other profession.

And it shouldn’t. Because nursing isn’t like any other profession.

*****

Let’s take entry level into practice. How’s that for jumping into the frying pan?

You can start nursing with an AA degree that should be two years but can’t really be done in two years so it’s actually more like three years with all the pre-requisites done first.

Whew!

Or…you can go for a BS degree which takes four years and can actually be done in four years unless you have to go a summer session (like my daughter), which really makes it over four years. This is supposed to be the desired entry level for practice. HOLD YOUR FIRE, I SAID “SUPPOSED TO BE”!

Or…

If you already have a BS or a BA degree, you can go into an entry level Master’s Degree program because it is really dumb to go back and get an AA degree because you already have a BS degree and you really don’t need one of those again, right, and the MS degree program is only 12 – 18 months.

And somehow through all this, you have become an RN.

Congratulations!

But…now you are wondering if you should go for a higher degree….

*****

So…

If you have an AA and you want to get your BSN you can go back to school either on campus or online, for which you will pay a lot of money as there are a lot of RN-to-BSN programs out there to help you if you think maybe you should do it as the BSN is SUPPOSED to be the desired degree and you feel as though it is your professional duty to do it, but you won’t get any more money for it or anything, but you will have BSN after your name which, if you are like me, is worth every penny and every bead of sweat….

Sorry, I digress…

Or, if you want to do something other that bedside nursing you can take that BSN and get your BSN-to-MSN either on campus or online or if you are really ambitions you can go right for the RN-to-MSN programs since you have an AA degree under your belt and now you can be a manager or a nursing instructor or work in public health and make approximately 50% less than you did as a staff nurse, but hey, you are willing to sacrifice for your profession.

Right?

But it gets better!

You can take that BSN or MSN and head for a doctoral program if you really want to do research and teach, that would be a PhD, or wait!, you want to be an advanced practice nurse or nurse practitioner as they are called and now you have to have your doctoral degree when you only used to need an MSN but they changed the rules and now to do that you need a doctoral degree called the DNP, which is different from the PhD because it is a practice doctorate as opposed to a research doctorate…..

*****

No wonder folks outside the profession think we’re off-the-wall.

But we aren’t.

We’re unique.

Our profession is flexible.

In spite of the light-hearted take on the educational opportunities, if you read between the lines what you see is that there is an entry level into nursing for everyone at any stage of their lives who are willing to work for that “RN” after their names.

What you see is an unbelievable number of opportunities to advance your education in a variety of ways. If you want it, it is available.  No four-year-undergrad-followed-by-three-years-graduate school, like lawyers. Unless that is what you want to do.  We have options. In that, we are unique.

What you see is a profession that has two terminal degrees in the PhD and DNP. Now, I’ve heard there is some controversy about this, having two doctoral pathways in nursing. I see it as flexibility in being able to receive a higher education that will take your career where you want it – to the classroom/research or to an increased responsibility for patient care.

*****

Nursing does not have a lockstep education pattern. We don’t have a “one size fits all” education system because we don’t have “one size fits all” nursing opportunities.

And we most definitely don’t have “one size fits all” nursing personalities.

Think about it. Nursing allows changes in specialties. Unlike law or medicine, we can change our focus and switch our area of specialty long after we’ve entered the profession.

*****

Sure, we argue and debate amongst ourselves. All the way from the best way to become a nurse down to whether or not we have one or two terminal degree options.

But folks, we’re all nurses. We are more alike than different and at our core we are solid.

So maybe we need to come together (Beatles reference!) and realize that all the different factions of nursing need to embrace the fact that we are nurses.

We can do that, I’m sure of it.

Because nursing is unique.

And that’s why we do what we do.

**The post was originally published at Kim McAllister’s blog: Emergiblog.com**


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7 Responses to “The Nursing Profession: Absolutely Nuts Or Totally Unique?”

  1. Strong One says:

    BRILLIANT! So eloquently described. Thank you. I still firmly believe we have THE most unique profession and THE most infinite amount of career possibilities.
    STRONG WORK.

  2. Strong One says:

    BRILLIANT! So eloquently described. Thank you. I still firmly believe we have THE most unique profession and THE most infinite amount of career possibilities.
    STRONG WORK.

  3. LastoftheZucchiniFlowers says:

    A well written description of the abyss which is the alphabet soup of Nsg. These many titles, though all signifying much learning and travail (along with the myriad board certifications therein) have no analog within the rest of health care. Once might make the argument that the MD vs. DO comes close, but they would be wrong. An inherent problem within the nsg alphabet soup is that these divergent means to the same end create various cliques among those who have earned them. Who is the better nurse? Who knows more? Who knows a lot but can't function within the patient care setting(s)? Who can't get what job in the hierarchy because they lack the particular initial(s)? Too many good people are held back for lack of a particular letter(s) and just as many WITH the required initial(s) in positions they should NOT have. The only organization who seems to have dealt with this fairly is military health care. They make it clear: If you want to be an officer in the Nurse Corps you MUST have a BSN? Otherwise, you'll be enlisted. End of story. All military officers must have four year college degrees – in fact THIS is the hallmark of the officer corps (from all professions). So the military has stood up to be counted and make NO apologies. But military nsg notwithstanding, I will only state the obvious: since women (for the most part) comprise the bulk of the nsg profession, all these programs have been borne of necessity. Many come to nsg in mid-life and cannot endure a typical baccalaureate schedule of classes and hence these many programs described by the author erupted. As mothers, many need to work shifts in order to be avaiable to their children/family schedules. And as the single largest segment of the Health care dollar in terms of salaries, the world will never outgrow the need for good nurses, EVER. Here is another fact/problem: in times of economic crisis (like this one) hospitals go begging for RNs. This current shortage, predicted for at least the last decade will result in a glut of applicants for nsg schools (in each of the many programs well described by the author). From that applicant pool, many will be accepted, endure the rigors of their program, graduate, take and pass the NCLEX and begin working in health care. Then the cycle will begin anew. The pendulum will swing yet again. And the problem will become clear: until hospitals/health care organizations let nurses TAKE CARE OF THEIR PATIENTS and STOP making them endless recorders of data, nurses will leave the profession in droves. The main reason people enter nursing IS to practice patient care. Few enjoy or tolerate the endless paper shoved upon them. The paper is what prevents them from doing what is most necessary and those 'old timers' who sing praises to the 'old days' when they had 20 patients to care for on a night shift, alone but for one LPN and one aide on forget to tell you that documentation back then entailed one or two sentences. So folks – when you need the nurse, don't look for them in the patient rooms where they belong (and long to be). You will find them (along with all their initials) chained to the desk/computer/laptop/hospital blackberry/whatever punching in template check offs instead of caring for their patients. The latter activity is the most important reason for their presence; and the once which WILL result in more patients leaving the hospital alive, with fewer infections and with fewer to no complications. If America wants better hospital/health care – it must liberate the nurses from the onerous paper burden. Only then can nurses – ALL NURSES – do their best work. JMHO as an interested observer from another health care profession after nearly 30 years in the biz.

  4. LastoftheZucchiniFlowers says:

    A well written description of the abyss which is the alphabet soup of Nsg. These many titles, though all signifying much learning and travail (along with the myriad board certifications therein) have no analog within the rest of health care. Once might make the argument that the MD vs. DO comes close, but they would be wrong. An inherent problem within the nsg alphabet soup is that these divergent means to the same end create various cliques among those who have earned them. Who is the better nurse? Who knows more? Who knows a lot but can't function within the patient care setting(s)? Who can't get what job in the hierarchy because they lack the particular initial(s)? Too many good people are held back for lack of a particular letter(s) and just as many WITH the required initial(s) in positions they should NOT have. The only organization who seems to have dealt with this fairly is military health care. They make it clear: If you want to be an officer in the Nurse Corps you MUST have a BSN? Otherwise, you'll be enlisted. End of story. All military officers must have four year college degrees – in fact THIS is the hallmark of the officer corps (from all professions). So the military has stood up to be counted and make NO apologies. But military nsg notwithstanding, I will only state the obvious: since women (for the most part) comprise the bulk of the nsg profession, all these programs have been borne of necessity. Many come to nsg in mid-life and cannot endure a typical baccalaureate schedule of classes and hence these many programs described by the author erupted. As mothers, many need to work shifts in order to be avaiable to their children/family schedules. And as the single largest segment of the Health care dollar in terms of salaries, the world will never outgrow the need for good nurses, EVER. Here is another fact/problem: in times of economic crisis (like this one) hospitals go begging for RNs. This current shortage, predicted for at least the last decade will result in a glut of applicants for nsg schools (in each of the many programs well described by the author). From that applicant pool, many will be accepted, endure the rigors of their program, graduate, take and pass the NCLEX and begin working in health care. Then the cycle will begin anew. The pendulum will swing yet again. And the problem will become clear: until hospitals/health care organizations let nurses TAKE CARE OF THEIR PATIENTS and STOP making them endless recorders of data, nurses will leave the profession in droves. The main reason people enter nursing IS to practice patient care. Few enjoy or tolerate the endless paper shoved upon them. The paper is what prevents them from doing what is most necessary and those 'old timers' who sing praises to the 'old days' when they had 20 patients to care for on a night shift, alone but for one LPN and one aide on forget to tell you that documentation back then entailed one or two sentences. So folks – when you need the nurse, don't look for them in the patient rooms where they belong (and long to be). You will find them (along with all their initials) chained to the desk/computer/laptop/hospital blackberry/whatever punching in template check offs instead of caring for their patients. The latter activity is the most important reason for their presence; and the once which WILL result in more patients leaving the hospital alive, with fewer infections and with fewer to no complications. If America wants better hospital/health care – it must liberate the nurses from the onerous paper burden. Only then can nurses – ALL NURSES – do their best work. JMHO as an interested observer from another health care profession after nearly 30 years in the biz.

  5. teamrn says:

    Another route; there are accelerated programs. With a Bachelors degree in a related field, for example: psych, biology or science, you can concentrate on nursing courses only, and get a BSN in 12 months. That's putting it into high gear, but is one more route on the circuitous highway where you can then take boards to become an RN.

  6. teamrn says:

    Oh, but there's one more way, one more route to obtaining that license. The 12 month accelerated BSN degree program is for adults with a degree in a field related to nursing (like psych, biology, sociology). For 12 months, your focus is only on nursing courses (because you've already complete prereqs (English, chemistry, algebra, etc) and gun it to graduation.

    This is one more route open to obtaining a BSN; and then you can sit for the state boards.

  7. teamrn says:

    Whoa, Nellie! There's another route to becoming registered to practice nursing (RN). These programs are accelerated programs and are open to students who already have degrees in biology or another related field like: psych or sociology.

    So when you go to an accelerated program, you spend 12 months focusing on nursing courses and clinicals, graduating with your BSN. Then you can sit for your boards. Not for the light of heart; but if you can see the light at the end of the tunnel BEFORE you enter it, there's motivation!!

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