What is the nursing profession?

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Carol Caico, NP
Advanced Practice Nursing

A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse who is either master's or doctorally prepared who diagnoses illnesses and treats them. NP usually have their own patients who chose to see and NP and today many people are seeing NP's for all their care. NP's specialize like physicians. The specialties are Women's Health, Psychiatric, Pediatric, Adult Health, Family Practice and Acute Care Nurse Practitioners. NP's provide comprehensive care including inquiring about any area in their life that may affect their help. They also provide anticipatory guidance and preventative health.

Nursing focus is on the whole patient, thereby setting itself apart from other disciplines through the positive caring approach. A profession is the ability to acquire knowledge in areas of science and the nursing profession is one that is grounded in theories, sciences, math, biology, and anatomy and physiology. Nursing is a discipline that focuses on alleviating pain and suffering through protection, promoting health, wellness, and prevention of illness and injury. The nursing profession is an advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations. The profession advocates education, prevention, collaboration, coordination of care, and adheres to a high standard of care. Today, the nursing profession transformation is a vision of Florence Nightingale’s showing in the hospital designs, evidence-based medical care, and holistic patient centered care.

What is the nursing profession? The answer to this question has been debated by many nursing experts, theorists, and practitioners for decades. Nursing practice has radically changed since its recognition as a needed and necessary part of health care by Florence Nightingale, in the mid-1800's. Nurses are educated to maintain patient safety, and administer care in widely diverse settings. This is known as the science of nursing.

For me, the backbone of nursing is the art, the ability to take a great deal of information (nursing education) into a clinical setting (nursing practice) and use the nuances of intuition, compassion, empathy, ethics, teaching, and spirituality, to impact an individual, family, or communities experience in health, wellness, and illness.

Nursing is more than "caring for" a sick patient, it is the challenge and transformation of giving yourself to another person to assist them until they (or their caregivers) can care for themselves.

Angela Krieg
Critical Care Nursing
The nursing profession is a career in which one has the opportunity to give care to others in need, share health information with others to help them live better lives, and grow professionally in almost any way one can dream possible. Whether one is interested in research, bedside nursing, or advanced practice, nursing provides the opportunities to do all of these things. Another nice thing about nursing is that nurses are able to be many different kinds of nurses throughout their career. For example, one could be a pediatric nurse for a few years, then decide to be a critical care nurse for the next few years, and then decide to become a nursing instructor! It is an amazingly, rewarding career. One piece of advice to always remember: Don't forget the basics. Everyone wants a caregiver who truly cares about their wellbeing and comfort.
Prof. Deborah Hunt
Critical Care Nursing
The nursing profession consists of registered professional nurses who practice in a variety of settings. To become a nurse one must attend a program of study most often at the Associate Degree level of the Baccalaureate Degree level. Upon completion they must pass a state licensing exam in order to practice. Nurses may practice in a wide variety of settings such as Med-Surg, Critical Care, or Maternal-Child. Nursing is a predominantly female profession but efforts are being made to recruit more male nurses, along with nurses from underrepresented populations.
We are only just now beginning to document, through research, all the facets of what nursing is and what nurses do. Because of the complexity of all of the functions a nurse performs, research evidence has been difficult to collect and analyze to answer the question, what is the nursing profession.
Although there are many ways to answer this question, a common thread among all types of nurses is the need to be vigilant. In my research vigilance is defined as the "degree to which a knowledgeable watchfulness occurs between persons in healthcare in response to a threat" (Kooken, 2008). Nurses are responsible to be vigilant for patients. In my research, patients, family members, and nurses share some common perspectives on vigilance: 1) People, including nurses, have to be knowledgeable to be vigilant; you cannot watch out for things if you do not have knowledge or experience. 2) Vigilance and hope are inextricably linked. Lazarus indicated that for every emotion there was a corresponding action- the action for the emotion of hope is vigilance. When patients or families lose hope, they will not be as vigilant. Nurses work hard to instill hope; therefore encouraging patient and family vigilance. 3) Vigilance is identified by patients and families as nurses who go beyond the call of duty- who go the extra mile and do more than the minimum. 4) Patients and families believe nurses who get to know them are more vigilant- and nurses indicate that this is true. Nurses get to know patients and families so they can more quickly spot "different than normal". 5) Vigilance is shared among patients, families, and nurses, but it is implied. Shared vigilance is an area that I believe we can specifically use to improve nursing practice, by intentionally building vigilance partnerships between patients, families, and nurses.
I believe the guardian aspect of nursing, through being vigilant is one of the most important facets of nursing because it is way nurses try to protect patients from harm. Yet, nurses are not often aware of what they do that demonstrates being vigilant. Vigilance becomes so incorporated in nursing practice- embedded in the everyday, that vigilance becomes an unconscious process. More research into this phenomenon will reveal its importance in patient safety outcomes. Describing and measuring nurse vigilance and encouraging vigilance partnerships will contribute some answers to the question: What is the nursing profession?
Nursing builds on theoretical concepts, encompassing both nurturing and knowledge driven skills in caring for an individually as a whole. The nursing profession is evolving as a body of science, arts, and it teaches us how to respond to a human being in illness. Also the profession owes its significance to the many nurses who answered the tireless call to attend to a patient, a family member or a stranger in need of help, representing the forefront of medicine.
Ms. Kathryne A. LeMieux
Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine
This has been a controversial topic among nurses. While establishing ourselves as professionals, we still face the challenges of transferring our love and care to our patients with our hands-on human caring. Many authors and experts have charged the profession with moving forward; yet retaining our ability to love in our special, nursing way. If you're a cashier or a computer analyst you can love your job, but you generally do not lay hands on a living organism that needs emotional and spiritual support. While on the wellness journey, your patient counts on you to provide a force we have yet to document in a concrete fashion. It is possible with new technologies, to measure more than physical reactions. Every day we learn new ways to prove our skills are more than temperature taking and enforcing compliance with our orders and diagnostic plans. Experienced nurses respond to patient needs in a fluid way, from start to finish, with artistic grace. Intuitive nursing means anticipating needs on a 360 level. You can fix a body part in surgery, but the sum of all parts equals a whole person that has to live with and adjust to the 'fix.' FEELING is an important part of nursing. HEALING takes everything the nurse has to give not by sacrificing herself in the process, but releasing all that you are. This is a reciprocal way nurses renew and strengthen their own hearts and minds. The energy of giving comes back in single, frequent, little miracles. 

Nursing is an applied art and science, as some of my colleagues have eloquently said, that is situationally derived. That means nursing is defined by the situation. It can be life or death, where the nurse supports the patient 100% to maintain life; educational, like facilitating a new mother in learning the skills she needs to care for her infant; population-based, such as implementing an immunization program for a measles outbreak; research, where nursing strategies are tested for their efficiency and effectiveness on a specified health problem; or, administrative, where nurses are organized in such a way as to better deliver care. 

The goal of nursing is to facilitate the achievement or maintenance of the functional competence, or health, of the patient/client by administering nursing strategies in the appropriate doses to reach the desired effect given the resources available. Generally, the nurse and the client establish a therapeutic relationship whereby mutual goals are established and gradually achieved to the extent that the client can self-maintain in their own environment.

In simple terms, nurses do whatever, whenever, wherever and however they can to help people get and stay healthy, however the client needs to define that, on their own. It is so broad in scope that you can have the five careers 'they' predict people will have over their lifetime without changing professions.

To be considered a profession there needs to be specialized knowledge and training. Nursing requires both. The nursing profession is both an art and a science. In order to work in the nursing profession, you are required to obtain credentials which are dependant on your level of education. Entrance into the profession is regulated at the state level ensuring that those who practice the nursing profession are qualified, having received the training and education necessary to practice within the scope of nursing. 

Nursing is a wonderful combination of art and science. Each nurse practices their art and science differently, utilize their experience, knowledge, intuition and resources to promote the health and well being of their clients. Nurses are lifelong learners, striving to affect positive outcomes for people and their communities by providing care based on scientific principles. Nurses are keenly aware of the uniqueness of individuals, families and communities and the need to individualize their assessment and plan of care. Nurses are frequently called on to be activists in order to affect health care for the larger good.

Juliet Wilkinson
Oncology Nursing
Ask five nurses this same question and you will probably get five different answers with one central concept -- caring. I can only answer for myself, obviously, but to me the nursing profession encompasses a group a professionals who strive to advocate, educate and care for their patients. You might wonder why nursing is described as a profession as opposed to an 'occupation'. The difference lies with the level of dedication. We are not a stand-alone team, however. Nurses work with many medical disciplines -- our strength lies together, working alongside these professionals while keeping the patient's best interests at heart.
Tara Cortes
Geriatrics Nursing
Nurses are the largest providers of health care in the United States - there are more than 3 million nurses. Nurses have a unique body of knowledge that is based on research which has furthered evidence based nursing practice. Nurses are vital members of the interdisciplinary health care team and are the greatest advocate for patients. Along with providing nursing care and  co-ordinating team care for patients,  they are prepared to practice across the health contiuum from primary care through long term/sub acute and home care. The essence of nursing is often said the be "caring".  Nurses have the ability to combine that caring with knowledge in the basic sciences, social sciences, and nursing science to consider patients from a wholistic sense - not only as a disease to be cured. They take into account the entire patient and family to promote the greatest opportunity  for that person to experience optimum health.  
Thank you for such a challenging question!
The nurse is diverse in knowledge, thinking, and caring abilities. The nurse is often a technical expert, an educator,a listener, a counselor, a resource person, and someone who uses all senses to better care for a person. He or she is the first person a patient usually sees in the morning and who, during the course of a shift, assists the patient in achieving the best possible outcomes. The nurse understands the importance of of patient-centered care which means that the patient has an active voice in his or her own care. The nurse works with other disciplines, such as physicians or therapists, to ensure the patient gets the best possible care. The nurse shows, with every patient encounter, that when a profession is built on caring, the patient benefits.
There are many various types of nursing and specialties. There are degrees that range from RN to doctorate. In every area of nursing the primary goal is excellence in patient care.
I hope this helped. Please feel free to ask more about the amazing profession of nursing.
Ileen Craven, DNP, MSN, RN
Deb Cordes
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Wikipedia defines nursing “as a healthcare profession focused on the care of individuals, families, and communities so they may attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life from conception to death.”
So, what does this really mean? It means that a nurse enters your life at the best and the worst of times. The nurse will utilize education and knowledge and the nursing process to provide the best quality of care for you and your family. This care will be individualized and focus on the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of you and your family.

Continue Learning about Nursing

Nursing

Nursing

Nursing is a healthcare profession that involves years of training and continued specialized education to care for patients in a variety of settings. Nurses are often the first healthcare professional that patients meet. They are ...

a technical expert, an educator, a counselor and a resource for the family, using all senses to better care for a patient.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.