Evolution of the Nursing Profession

09/08/10 11:04 AM
nurse looking into microscope

Ask any nurse who has worked longer than twenty years how their profession has changed and you might be surprised. Unlike the typical “times were tougher back then” answer, nine times out of ten, they’ll say that nursing today is much more involved and respected than it was fifty years ago.

Rocking the Roles

Not only are nurses payed more now than any other time in history, there is presently a massive shortage and high demand for nurses in all fields. Along with specialized roles in nursing such as practitioners, midwives, ER and OR nurses, pediatric nurses and the list goes on. The primary difference is the way nurses today work along side of doctors. Today’s nurse has taken over many of the roles that were once reserved specifically for doctors and are now a respected part of the medical staff. Able to make informed decisions and perform procedures that would have been solely reserved for physicians fifty years ago, today’s nurse is more technologically advanced than ever.

Blurring the Gender Lines

Men in the nursing field were practically unheard of fifty years ago. Even today, thanks to media and movies like “Meet the Parents” (yes you, “Greg RN”), although still not widely realized, there are more male nurses than any other time in history. Surprisingly, there were a small number of male nurses in the 50’s, but they were few and far between due to the belief that women were better equipped to handle the emotional, mental and physical (ie: bathing and caring roles) aspects of patient care than men. Times have certainly changed and although female nurses far outnumber their male counterparts, male nursing roles have become accepted in the medical field.

Time Changes Everything

Nurses today take home in one month what nurses in the fifties would make in a year! Of course the laws of supply and demand as well as skyrocketing inflation are the reason for this enormous pay increase but the difference between $5,200 and $72,000 is an astronomical jump. Other changes in nursing include the obvious dress code. The uniforms, which began as a dress, cap, cuffs, stockings and the required pillbox have morphed into scrubs and lab coats and focus more on function than form. Time changes everything and thanks to modern medicine, updated fashion and gender acceptance, nurses today are a far cry from what they were in the fifties.

Posted by Heather | in Nursing | No Comments »

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