My employer requires a Bachelor’s Degree to work as a nursing aide – we call them Mental Health Specialists (MHSs). MHSs’ supervisors are us nurses, of course. We’re required to have an RN, but a Bachelor’s-level education is optional. This is at a Harvard-affiliated teaching hospital. PTs, OTs, all the various flavors of group therapist, social workers, pharmacists, physicians, residents, IT folks, nutritionists, research assistants – as far as I can tell ALL other professionals and would-be professionals – at McLean must have more education than the nurses do. To find equal or lower standards, I’d have to look to Housekeeping and such.
I’ve taught NCLEX prep at Community Colleges, and the students there impressed me: smart, tough, disciplined, focused. Promising new nurses! I’ve also worked with many such nurses. I hope to avoid any impression that I look to put such people down. I don’t.
Yet look at the relative powerlessness of nursing in most hospitals today, at our reputation with the public – all heart, little mention of brains. What knowledge or smarts do you need to be an “Angel?” Our lower standards offer benefits, but they also cost us, far more than most of us seem to realize.
What do you think? Should we raise the minimum standards to something comparable to all other professionals, or not? If yes, how? The devil, as they say, is in the details…