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Is Nursing a Profession or a Trade?

Is Nursing a Profession or a Trade?

Marijke Durning | NursingLink

Is it possible for a profession to have an identity crisis? If so, then nursing does. Nurses frequently fight among themselves about who should be called a nurse, and they fight with the outside world about whether nursing is a profession or a trade. So which one is it? Is nursing a profession? Or a trade?

The world needs tradesmen. Even the wealthiest and most educated among us need electricians, automobile mechanics, and roofers. The workers train long hours and continue throughout their career to learn to adapt as technology moves ahead. There should be pride in work well done as a tradesman.

Professions were once limited to the upper crust: The doctors and lawyers of society. More jobs joined the ranks of professionals as they developed, like engineers, dentists, and architects. At first glance, the difference between the trades could be as simple as who gets their hands dirty and who doesn’t.

Professionals are governed by professional bodies, and must satisfy minimum requirements to be granted the right to call themselves a member of their chosen profession; they are required to participate in life-long learning. But don’t tradesmen have to hold certifications and upgrade their skills and knowledge as well?

Is the difference between a trade and a profession about the decision-making process? In other words, do you make decisions or are decisions made for you? It’s not so clear-cut: There are many tradesmen who own companies and make their own decisions, while there are many professionals who take orders from superiors.

Furthermore, in nursing there are various levels involved: There are the administrators as well as those with advanced degrees and certificates. There are also front-line nurses who get their hands dirty providing care to patients.

Licensed Practical Nurses

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs), also called licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), are fighting to receive the same recognition as registered nurses (RNs). LPN programs are shorter than RN programs, but many LPNs find they do much of the same work as RNs.

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses, with either a diploma or an associate degree in nursing (ADN), also fight for recognition. To become an RN, you must complete at least a two-year college-level degree and the prerequisites – more education than LPNs receive. However, with LPNs increasingly doing more work similar to RNs, RNs are being phased out in some places.

Although RNs may work on certificates and continue their education to expand their knowledge and specialize in certain areas, RNs without a BSN are rarely chosen for advancement, so they are limited within their professional growth.

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