I am incredibly honored to have been a nurse for well over half my life. I take great pride to be included in the nursing profession, named as the most trusted profession every year for the last several years.
For years, I have been on a personal crusade to get people to quit saying “just”. “Just” diminishes and demeans. I “just” have 3 kids. I “just” have a bachelor’s degree. I am “just” a nurse. I am the proud mother of three boys and am proud to be a nurse with a BSN.
A friend of mine recently commented that I could have been a doctor. I explained that I did not settle on being a nurse, it’s what I chose to do. I wanted a profession that would satisfy me and allow me to be home with my children, work flexible, part-time hours, and contribute significantly to the household budget.
Recently, I have been speaking with nursing leaders from all levels of nursing. I was dismayed when speaking with several nurse practitioner leaders to hear comments such as, “We are not nurses, we are nurse practitioners” or “We are not just nurses”. Ouch! I recognize the spirit of the comment. Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who have taken rigorous courses and serve the patients in a completely different role than the traditional bedside nurse. As such, they have different educational needs as well. However, as a mother of a college age son, I found the comment as painful as the growing pains I feel as my son naturally distances himself from the parents who birthed and nurtured him.
The entry level debate has caused so much division over the years; let us not make advance practice cause further division. We are all proud to claim the title of the most trusted profession. We obtain our license from, and are governed by, the same boards of nursing.
I have been a nurse for 25 years. I have sat through countless and seemingly endless required competency classes offered by other nurses. In fact, I was able to immediately take life saving measures for that same college age son when he was a toddler with an obstructed air way because of what I learned from another nurse. I was honored to provide care for my mother as she died from cancer, and to provide the 6 weeks of IV therapy for my son when he was treated for osteomyelitis. Just being a nurse made a world of difference for me and my loved ones; I would like to think it has for my patients as well.
To illustrate my point, I'd like to take 1 Corinthians 12:15-31 and apply it specifically to nurses: The nursing profession is one and yet has many members. All the members of the nursing profession, though they are many, are one profession. By our various education we were all entered into the profession, whether LPNs, RNs, whether BSN or MSN, and we were all made to serve the patient.
For the nursing profession is not one member, but many. If the LPN says, “Because I am not a BSN, I am not a part of the nursing profession,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the nursing profession. And if the RN says, “Because I am not an APRN, I am not a part of the nursing profession,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the nursing profession. If the whole nursing profession were APRNs, where would the RN be? If the whole were RNs, where would the LPN be?
But now we are all in the nursing profession, just as we desired. If we were all one member, where would the nursing profession be? But now there are many members, but one nursing profession. And the APRN cannot say to the BSN, “I have no need of you”; or again the LPN to the RN, “I have no need of you.” The nursing profession is so composed, giving abundant honor to all members, so that there may be no division in the nursing profession, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now we are the nursing profession, and individually members of it. We are all teachers with gifts of healings, workers of miracles.
With all the important issues facing us, such as the health care debate, we must unite and speak with one voice. We must find the more excellent way.