I have heard many of my peers indicate that one of their motivations for becoming a nurse is that they perceived nursing as a caring profession, and they wanted to be a part of a profession in which they can care for and help others. These peers – like many people – see nursing as a noble, virtuous profession. In fact, there is some research that supports this perception of nurses, and while being seen as being virtuous sounds like a good thing, it seems that “nurses are generally prized for their virtues, not their knowledge” (Hoeve, Jansen, & Roodbol, 2014, p. 298). In other words, the extensive knowledge and skill acquisition that nurses undergo seems much less important than their caring, compassionate aspects.

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According to Nursing Ethics the scientific aspects of nursing seem to get overlooked which some scholars appear to think hurt the profession (Butts & Rich, 2012). This raises the question as to whether this lack of focus on the scientific aspects and the emphasis on those virtues hinders the advancement of the profession. I think it does; the ability of nurses to exert influence over public perception and policy are diminished by their invisibility in healthcare institutions (Hoeve, Jansen, & Roodbol, 2014). This suggests that they aren’t perceived as serious professionals, which could not be farther from reality.

This raises concerns as to whether or not the contributions of nurses to research and scholarship have as much influence as they should, given the skill, knowledge, and expertise of nurses. Furthermore, if nursing practice is strongly based on evidence-based practice, it is crucial to emphasize the evidence aspect of what nurses do. Compassion may be important, but it does not offer safety and quality-oriented practices which support patient health. Furthermore, while compassion may inspire trust and bonding between nurses and patients, it does not broadcast the authority which nurses have as healthcare professionals, and that authority is crucial to nursing practice.

  • Butts, J.B., & Rich, K.L. (2012). Nursing ethics (3rd ed.). Burlington, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett
  • Hoeve, Y. T., Jansen, G., & Roodbol, P. (2014). The nursing profession: Public image, self-
    concept and professional identity. A discussion paper. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 70(2), 295-309 15p. doi:10.1111/jan.12177