Nursing is not only a profession, it is a ministry. Nurses not only provide care for their patients, they oftentimes minister to them in order to provide comfort and in some cases, peace of mind. Nursing is a profession that the healthcare system cannot do without. We know that the profession of a physician goes back to even Biblical times, but even though nursing has been around for many years, it does not date back as far as the profession of a physician does. This is not to say that nursing is less important than any other profession. The field has grown so much over the past few decades and nursing is a profession that is in high demand. Nurses now have to decide if they want to do a traditional educational path or get the four-year degree; they must stay ahead of nursing trends in order to gauge the future of nursing so that they are adequately prepared; and they should always consider seriously how their contributions to the profession will make an impact on the world as a whole.
II. History of Nursing
When most of us think about the history of nurses, we automatically think of Florence Nightingale as the person who was instrumental in developing the profession. Before Nightingale, nursing was mainly the job of nuns who provided nurse-like services to the military. But, Nightingale can be credited with working to improve the standards of nurses helping it evolve into the profession it is today. During the early years nurses were focused mainly on assisting men at war. Nightingale worked to move the practice from the fields to hospitals and to also take the management of nurses from doctors and place it under the control of females (Wildman and Hewison, 2009).
During the early years of nursing, there were little to no patient records kept. This made it difficult for healthcare professionals to ascertain what treatments worked and what didn't work for the patient. According to Ozbolt and Saba, Florence Nightingale can also be credited with the standardization of patient records that could be analyzed to help improve not only patient care but processes, too (2008). Today the management of patient records is called nursing informatics and throughout the years and with the introduction to computers and the internet, this process has only continued to improve.
III. ADN vs. BSN
Advances in medicine are a constant. Whether scientist are lucky enough to find a cure for an illness or ways to manage an illness until a cure can be found, the field of medicine is ever changing and growing. As a result, nurses must keep up with these changes to better serve their patients. Although a two-year education is all that is needed to become a registered nurse, many are opting for the B.S. In Nursing BSN. The lack of nurses without a BSN is considered a shortage just as much as the nursing shortage itself. Delaney and Piscopo state that the BSN is needed to adequately prepare nurses to meet the needs of the ever changing healthcare field because it makes the nurse more holistic and aware of cultural diversity (2007). On a personal level, the BSN is the better choice. Both degrees have the same outcome in that the student will become a registered nurse after completion, the bachelor's degree gives the nurse the opportunity to not only do better at her current job, but to also prepare for the future by placing herself in a position to advance quicker in the field than the associate degree in nursing (ADN).
Many jobs in the nursing field are now requiring the BSN. In order to become a charge nurse, experience (in some cases) is no longer the deciding factor. Healthcare facilities are increasingly requiring the four-year degree in order to be qualified for this position. In the past, only the ADN was required and many nurses are finding that after working in the profession for ten, twenty or more years they need to back to school in order to stay current (Delaney and Piscopo, 2007). This hasn't always been the case, but as the profession evolves the need for more education has become standard.
The BSN not only prepares the nurse for future career advancement. It can also lay the foundation for those wanting to pursue a master's degree or even a doctoral degree. Nurses who possess a Ph.D. have the opportunity to teach future nurses as well as do research in their chosen field in order to advance the profession. Not only is there a shortage of nurses, there is also a shortage of nurses with doctoral degrees. The nursing profession needs more people with not only BSNs, but other advanced degrees in order to alleviate the shortages we are currently experiencing.
IV. Future of Nursing
Nursing has come a long way since its inception. Even as far back as the 1970's, nurses did not carry the responsibility that they have now. Senior citizens and even baby boomers can probably remember a time when the nurse's job was to take the patient's temperature, blood pressure and maybe even administer a shot or two. In the past ten years or so, we have seen an influx of the clinics that are now in major drug store chains. These clinics are run solely by nurses. No doctors are present. Of course, they only treat illnesses that can be considered non-life threatening such as the common cold, flu, conjunctivitis, and strep throat to name a few. But, someone somewhere saw a need for this type of service and now these clinics are flourishing. Patients no longer have to make an appointment with their doctor and wait for long periods of time just to be treated for a minor illness. Now they can stop in at one of these clinics, receive treatment and be on their way within a matter of minutes.
These new clinics have made it convenient for patients to get treatment fast. However, there is another area of nursing that has grown over the past few decades and is becoming an extremely important part of not only nursing, but the medical field in general. Geriatric nursing has seen a steady increase within the past years and it is due in part to the fact that people are living longer than they did in the past. Even though current generations may be in better health than their predecessors, certain illnesses and conditions such as strokes, dementia, arthritis and others are generally associated with the elderly.
Geriatric nursing as a specialty has been around since the 1960s, but not until twenty years later did we start to see geriatric nursing programs in colleges and universities. Within the ten-year span between 1999 and 2009, there were more than 131 graduate nursing programs created at universities across the United States (Franklin et.al., 2011). This is an indication that the trend in geriatric nursing will continue to show growth in the years to come and it also is an indication that the future in this field is bright.
V. Impact on the Field of Nursing
On a local scale, I can influence the field of nursing by obtaining a BSN and concentrate on being the best nurse I can be. To give back to the community, I have considered working as a nurse in a clinic serving the underprivileged. In addition to providing patient care at the clinic, I would like to set up programs dealing with health and nutrition, practicing safe sex and other issues that are prevalent in these areas. This type of environment would expose me to different cultures and prepare me for future phases of my nursing career.
I would also like to complete my master's degree and become a nurse practitioner. As a nurse practitioner,…