Is nursing a profession?: Results of a Missouri Study


This article examines the question of whether or not nursing is or should be a profession. The conclusion is based primarily on an analysis of what constitutes a profession and an empirical study of some nursingpractices and attitudes. The analysis of professions recognizes three prominent models in sociology: trait, functional, and power or control. It bypasses these infavor of a “cluster concept,” which asserts that the public has a number of expectations of an occupation before it will bestow the status of profession upon it. We then give an analysis of some of the results of the survey of a sample of Missouri registered nurses. The gist of the data is said to reflect the facts that these nurses think nursing is or should be a profession, but that other factors tend to show that nursing lacks the requisite cluster to substantiate the claim to be a profession. We conclude that nursing should perhaps not be a profession since it has been a bastion of the “ethics of compassion” in a world that is increasingly beset by an “ethics of competence”.


Political Science

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Evaluation and the Health Professions