Nursing as a Profession

By Chinenye MaryRose Okonkwo

A Paper Presented at Career Day Celebration, St. Anthony’s Secondary School, Ikenga, Anambra State, Nigeria on Thursday 4th March, 2021


Definition of Nursing

Different people have defined nursing differently. However, in this unit we will see some of the common definitions of nursing: Nursing is provision of optimal conditions to enhance the person’s reparative processes and prevent the reparative process from being interrupted .

The practice of nursing is defined as diagnosing and treating human response to actual or potential health problems through such services as case finding, health teaching, health counseling; and provision of support to or restoration of life and well-being and executing medical prescribed by licensed or otherwise legally authorized physician or dentist.

Nursing is directed toward meeting both the health and illness need and man who is viewed holistically as having physical, emotional, psychological intellectual, social and spiritual.

Nursing is a humanistic science dedicated to compassionate concern with maintaining and promoting health, preventing illness and caring for and rehabilitating the sick and disabled. Nursing is a deliberate action, a function of the practical intelligence of nurses and action to bring about humanely desirable conditions in persons and their environments. As a practice discipline nursing’s scientific body of knowledge is used to provide an essential service to people, that is to promote ability to affect health positively.


Nursing as a developing profession

Nursing is a profession. A profession is a calling that requires special knowledge and skilled preparation. A profession is generally distinguished from other kinds of occupation by:

  1. Its requirement of prolonged specialized training acquiring a body of knowledge pertinent to the role to be performed and
  2. An orientation of the individual to ward service, ether to community or organization.

Criteria of a profession

  • Professional status is achieved when an occupation involves practice.
  • A profession carries great individual responsibility and based up on theoretical Knowledge.
  • The privilege to practice is granted only after the individual was completed a standardized program of highly specialized education and has demonstrated an ability to meet the standards for practice.
  • The body of specialized knowledge is continually developed and Evaluated through research.
  • The members are self organized and collectively assume the responsibility of establishing standards for education and practice.

Comparison between Profession and occupation

Training may occur on job Education takes place in College and University
Length of training variesEducation is definite and prolonged
Value, beliefs and Ethics are not Prominent features of PreparationValue beliefs, and Ethics are integral part of preparation
Commitment & personal identification are strongCommitment & personal Identification vary
People unlikely to change jobsPeople unlikely to change
Accountability rests with IndividualAccountability rests with Employees

Role of the professional nurse

  1. Care provider: caring /comforting involve knowledge and sensitivity to what matter and what is important to the client.
  2. Communicator / Helper: Effective communication is an essential element of all helping profession, including nursing. It helps the client to explain the internal feeling.
  3. Teacher/educator: teacher refers to activities by which the teacher helps the student to learn. The client also need education based on the case.
  4. Counsellor: counselling is a process of helping client to recognized and cope with stressful psychological or social problem, to develop improved interpersonal relationships and promote personal growth.
  5. Client advocate: An advocate pleads the cause of others or argues or pleads for a cause or proposal.
  6. Change agent: a change agent is a person or group who initiates changes or who assists others in making modification in themselves or in the system.
  7. Leader: leader ship is defined as mutual process of inter personal influence through which the nurse helps a client make decision in establishing and achieving goals to improve the client well-being.
  8. Manager: management defines manager as who plans, gives direction, developing staff, monitoring operations, giving rewards fairly and representing both staff member and administration as needed.
  9. Researcher: majority of researchers in nursing are prepared at doctoral and post-doctoral level. Although an increasing number of clinicians and nurses with masters degree are beginning to practice it.

Nursing Education

  1. Practical Nurse Education: Practical nursing has been in existence for many years. In the past the practical nurse was the family, friends or community members who was called to the home during emergencies. These were lay people who gained the experience through self-taught. The first formal education in practical nursing was started in 1892. The duration of training was 3 months and students were called attendants. The curricula of practical nursing includes child and elderly care, cooking and care of the sick at home
  2. Registered nursing: In the United States, most basic education for registered nurses is provided in three types of programs, Diploma, Associate degree, and baccalaureate programs in Canada, the 2-years, 3- years or more diploma and baccalaureate programs prepare registered nurses.
  3. Diploma: today’s diploma nursing program have changed markedly from the original nightingale model, becoming hospital-based education programs that provide a rich clinical experience for nursing students these programs may last two or more years and are often associated with colleges or universities.
  4. Associate degree: In 1980 as a solution to the acute shortage of nurses that came about because of World War II. Associated degree programs are offered in United States in junior colleges as well as in college and universities.
  5. Baccalaureate degree: Although baccalaureate nursing education programs were established in universities in both United States and Canada in the early 1900s.In 1960s the number of the students enrolled in these programs increased markedly.
  6. Masters programs: – master’s programs generally take from 11/2 to 2 years to complete.
  7. Doctoral programs: doctoral programs in nursing, which award the degree of doctor of nursing science (DNS). the program began in the 1960s in united states.
  8. Continuing education: – to formalize experiences designed to enlarge the knowledge or skills of practitioners.
  9. In service education; – Program is administered by an employer; it is designed to update the knowledge or skills of employees.

Specialties in Nursing

  • Certified Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Entrepreneur
  • Nurse Educator
  • Cardiac care nurse
  • Critical care nurse
  • Dermatology nurse
  • Ophthalmic nurse
  • Perioperative nurse
  • Psychiatric nurse
  • Paediatric nurse
  • Dental nurse
  • Obstetric nurse
  • Oncology nurse
  • Orthopedic nurse
  • Radiology nurse
  • School nurse
  • Emergency nurse
  • Flight nurse
  • Geriatric nurse
  • Community health nurse
  • Burn care nurse
  • Domestic violence nurse
  • Missionary nurse
  • Nephrology nurse

And many others

Prerequisite for Nursing Education

General Nursing Programme is the basic nursing programme in Nigeria. If you get admitted into a school of nursing for the general nursing programme, you will become a registered nurse on completion of your course in three years.

The currently approved entry requirement is at least five[5] credit level passes at not more than two[2] sittings at the Senior Secondary School Certificate [SSCE/NECO/GCE] examinations in the following  subjects as listed below;

  • English language
  • Mathematics
  • Biology or Health Science
  • Chemistry
  • Physics or any other science subject.

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