Nursing is a noble profession that has been the debate of several stakeholders in the medical, public and political arenas. The role of nurses seems to be an illusion with nurses being portrayed as virtuous care givers and not as knowledgeable professionals in the health system. The purpose of this essay is to bring into light the understanding of what nursing is all about. To comprehensively respond to this quest, the paper will look at what Gordon & Sioban (2006) article says about nursing and nursing role in a summary. I will compare the article`s findings with my opinion about nursing and show how the chapter contributes to the understanding of nursing.
The increasing shortage of nurses in the world has been a major concern to stakeholders. The various reasons attributed to nurse shortage are universally supported in most countries and by most stakeholders. However, the concept of virtue script has often been overlooked for contributing to this problem. Virtue script is the perception that nurses are just humanitarians concerned with providing emotional support to patients by caring for them, and they have no medical knowledge necessary in health care. This concept emanated in the Victorian era where women were not allowed into working outside the home. The chance that nursing offered for women to care for patients in war zones or in hospital environment and the religious association of nursing as a virtuous profession has shaped the way nurses are viewed by both the public and the medical fraternity. Religion perceived nursing as an altruistic, charitable and self sacrificing work that was divine. The labeling and portrayal of nursing as a virtuous, charitable or humanistic work have resulted to lack of respect that nursing have been looking for more than one and a half of a century. This limits the efforts for attracting, recruiting and retaining new candidates who will not just join the sector, but will be there to stay in the long run.
Nurses have tried over time to fight for their rightful place in the health care system. The women movements of the late and early 20[th] centuries were focused on seeking nurses` professional independence and control over health facilities. Florence Nightingale and her peers mobilized for the recognition of nurses as autonomous leaders (Payne, 2009). This challenged medical development which had just begun to receive social legitimacy and the progress in had made in science, anesthetic and surgery. Physicians and their supporters did not want this change and termed nurses as assistants to physicians. The view of nursing as a moral action continued through the 20[th] century and has since then been perpetuated in the health care system. The numerous campaigns and adverts trying to show the importance of nurses continue to emphasize their moral virtuous role rather than professional knowledge that nurses bring into the health care system
The articles article shows a clear picture of how nursing is portrayed or perpetuated as a mere charity work payable by sympathy and appreciation. This concept has been shown by the authors by providing quotes from different stakeholders including doctors, patients, and nurses themselves. The common theme that emerges even in the campaigns for recognition of nurses is their subordinate role in the provision of care. The authors have done an analysis of various adverts and interviews from Hallman to show how this concept of nurses as angels, care takers, volunteers who dedicate themselves to serve others and other `non professional` representations has affected nursing. This is one of the strengths of the article. However, the article fails to link its argument with other existing studies in a more comprehensible manner. The authors have not cited other works when making some important claims such as linking the behavior of nurses as virtuous professions to the believe that it is the only way they can get respect, self esteem and status. In addition, the article is not conclusive on the way forward for nursing to gain the recognition it deserves as an important part of health care system. As the title reads, the reader would expect the explanation of how nursing can move beyond virtue script and move to a more knowledge based identity (Gordon & Sioban, 2006).
Nevertheless the article brings insight into the understanding of nursing. The knowledge on what nursing is and what role nurses play evidently reveal it as a virtuous profession. Windsor, Douglas & Harvey (2012) have also shown the conception of nursing as a virtuous professional. The emphasis of nurses as supporters or assistant to physicians has often been reflected in patients` responses in regard to their hospital experience. Consequently the public does not consider nurses as having the potential to offer medical advice, as they believe they have little or no knowledge on the medical aspect of the health care system.
In reviewing this article I have been able to understand why physicians treat nurses as their assistants in the hospital settings as they spend most of their time at the bedside of patients, changing them, administering medications, listening and comforting them. In addition nurses have retained this doctrine of moral profession too often. Despite the fact that there is extensive knowledge regarding the critical role played by nurses in reducing re-infection, death and other challenges in medical care, they continue to describe themselves like care givers (O`Connell, 2008). The media consequently have helped perpetuate this notion across the population which has worsened the nursing profession as a compassionate work, rather than a profession based on knowledge and skills. This knowledge has helped me refocus my thinking about nurses, and can now understand the dynamics, the history and the future of nursing as a profession. The article has also reminded me what many people tend to overlook when assessing the role of the nurse in health care. When the doctor only does the diagnosis and prescribed treatment or carries out surgery, most of the work that will lead to recovery of a patient is done by a nurse (Reeves, Fox, and Hodges, 2009). The carrying out of regular assessment including but not limited to activities such as taking body temperatures regularly, checking blood pressure, staying and understanding the patient`s response to treatment are very important and are the difference between recovering and worsening.
In conclusion, the nursing problem facing health care systems is facilitated by the perception of nursing as a virtuous profession. The current article fails to support most arguments with scientific studies in nursing, which would add weight to the claims. The article is however very clear in explaining how nursing is viewed as a moral profession. The use of reference from interviews advertisement makes the article credibly convincing. My understanding on nursing role has been enlightened and I can now understand where nursing has come from and where it is headed.
Gordon, S. & Sioban, N. (2006). Moving beyond the virtue script in nursing: Creating a knowledge-based identity for nurses.
O`Connell E. (2008). Therapeutic relationships in critical care nursing: A reflection of practice. Nursing Critical Care, 13:138-43.
Payne J. (2009). Emotional labour and skill: A reappraisal. Gender, Work & Organization,16, 348-67.
Reeves S., Fox, A., and Hodges, B. (2009). The competency movement in the health professions: ensuring consistent standards of reproducing conventional domains of practice? Advances in Health Science Education,14, 451-53.
Windsor, C., Douglas, C., & Harvey, T. (2012). Nursing and competencies – a natural fit : The politics of skill/competency formation in nursing. Nursing Inquiry, 19(3), 213-222.