In order to fully understand our heritage, nurses must learn our professional genealogy – from how the profession evolved from ‘traditional’ ministering of the sick to the professionals we are today. Our history gives us a perspective in the traditions we have as nurses and a legacy to pass on to new nurses as they enter the profession.
We learn what has influenced, motivated, and affected nurses in the past so that we can use that knowledge to influence our perspective in making changes that will benefit those who enter the profession in the future.
Over the years I have observed a change in how we, as nurse and the medical profession, address pain. When I started nursing, you medicated the pain. To put it simply pain was pain – you medicated to relieve the pain. There was not a qualifier by the patient as to their perception of the intensity. Follow up was subjective as you asked the patient if they felt better – we didn’t ask them to quantify the relief they perceived from the medication given. As nurses, we now have data that validates our actions in our plan of care for our patients through evidence based practice. We are not doing something “because that is the way it has always been done”. We have logic and rationality supporting our care.
As a profession we have licensure within our states that includes validation of continuing education. Outside of our licensure we have specialty certificates that attests to the hard work and knowledge those nurses have to achieve their specific certificates of expertise.
One things that can be observed in learning the history of nursing is that nurses, throughout history, as well as today, demonstrate a drive to not only better themselves, but to better the community around them.
Nursing is far more than switching out a bedpan and passing pills. It has time honored traditions as well as modern scientific sustenance behind the care of patients. I am proud to be a professional nurse.