As I fly back from Colorado, I thought of the men and women who paved the way to today’s aviation system. Where it used to take months in covered wagons to get from the east coast to the west coast, I can fly that route now in less than 6 hours. Each journey has its own challenges, risks and successes. Our nursing history is full of struggle and growth. The latest trends really come out of the past. “There’s nothing new under the sun,” just different circumstances and situations.
Some nurses today are going straight through school, obtaining advanced degrees without ever working in any entry-level healthcare positions. Many of the concepts being promoted in the baccalaureate programs today are built on the same concepts we learned years ago. With changes in technology the circumstances have changed but the patient needing disease management remains the same – for example – electronic medical records versus copying the medication Kardex every Monday by hand.
My journey reflects what some might call the “covered wagon” approach. Originally, I became a Home Health Aide. To my surprise, I enjoyed being able to play a role in my patients’ healing and care. My journey from HHA to LPN, to RN, to Master’s degree took almost 25 years (covered wagon). I learned along the way, working in hospitals, homecare, hospice, school health, managed care and other healthcare facilities how to have a balanced, practical view of my formal education. My history became an asset to my nursing practice.
When specialties became Queen, advanced degrees in Community Heath, Health Administration, and Health Management were encouraged and sought after. So many seasoned nurses are now being told that our advanced degrees don’t matter because it isn’t the “right one” in nursing specifically. This is a recipe for disaster in the nursing profession as a whole. Is the nurse who obtained her baccalaureate in nursing without ever working in the field more of an asset to the profession than someone who built upon their nursing degree with continuing education and practical experience?
I am an advocate for education and for nurses. We must be very careful as we are forcing many nurses out of the profession by requiring that they return to school – some just prior to retirement. Asking them to incur expenses that could affect their very ability to retire is a big problem. We may be actually hurting the very patients and profession we are trying to help.
The truth is both nurses are of value to our profession. What was old has become new again. Florence Nightingale formalized education of nurses and laid the foundation for ‘evidenced based practice.’ Mentorship is one of the big things missing in our profession especially concerning Nurse Leaders. We are at risk of repeating the failures of the past when we decrease the value of our history. The people who pioneered this land in covered wagons paved the way for those who are flying now. The wise ones in nursing will look back, grab the baby and then throw out the bath water. We are responsible for the safe transitioning of our profession. Strategic grandfathering is one way to create a practical transference of nursing knowledge.
Have the changing requirements for nursing education affected you positively or negatively? Is it really the type of degree that makes a nurse a better practitioner?
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Naomi is a Registered Nurse, Certified Life Coach and Motivational Speaker. She is owner and CEO of Consults Unlimited Inc., a Professional Life Coaching company. She is known as the Life Coach RN. As a Life Coach she specializes in helping nursing leadership “Live and Work Smarter not Harder!” With over 30 years of nursing experience, she has been in management for over 19 years. For more information about coaching with Naomi, visit http://www.LifeCoachRN.com