Is Nursing a Profession?

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Is Nursing a Profession


This paper scrutinizes the question of whether or not nursing should be referred to as a profession. The final conclusion shall be made after extensively reviewing the qualities of a profession proposed by Joel and Kelly in their book. The paper begins with an abstract that clearly summarizes the whole work, which later is preceded by an introduction that digs much into what a profession is by definition. Then a comparison with nursing is introduced with a view to qualify or disqualify nursing as a profession. This paper adopts an argument in favor of nursing as a profession. In doing so, reference is made to the qualities of a profession outlined by Joel and Kelly with specific focus to four qualities of a profession identified by the authors.

Is Nursing a Profession?


A profession can be defined as an esteemed occupation that consists of highly trained experts that perform a very distinct role in society (Kearney-Nunnery, 2012). It has special possession of experience in particular types of knowledge that is highly needed by society and individual human beings. Kearney-Nunnery (2012) further argues that a profession can formulate the governing ethics and review the quality of its work. This paper discusses nursing as a profession. The qualities of a profession outlined by Joel and Kelly are thus discussed. The four qualities are explained to support the viewpoint that nursing is a profession

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Higher Institutions of Learning

Blais & Hayes (2011) explain that a profession commends the education of its practitioners to the higher institutions of learning to train and equip them. This means that one’s occupation can be qualified as a profession if the practitioners are specially trained in an institution of higher education. Nurses, when checked in this context, have a specialized higher education together with training. For example, in the United States of America, nurses’ training and education are authenticated by professional licensure in respective states (Kearney-Nunnery, 2012). Moreover, to qualify as a nurse, one has to undertake such training either in tertiary institutions or universities, which are institutions of higher education. In addition to this, there are still several levels of training for one to become a nurse. This means that nursing as an occupation must be entrusted to higher learning institutions. When evaluated in this context, nursing qualifies as a profession.

Code of Ethics

Code of ethics is defined in this context as rules and regulations that sanction misbehavior and guide the behavior of professionals as they practice their profession. According to Blais & Hayes (2011), a profession is guided by a code of ethics that regulates the relationship between a professional and a client. Nurses have a code of ethics that dictates their expected behavior. Furthermore, there are established standards of practice which bind each practitioner. These codes of ethics are laid down by nursing regulatory bodies. Each nurse is expected to adhere to the set of regulations. Violation of the codes of ethics may lead to the license of the practitioner being revoked or sanctioned (Joel &Kelly, 2002). The bodies further govern research and shape the practice of the nurses. Nursing thus meets the definition of a profession as postulated by Joel and Kelly in their characterization of a profession as one that is guided by the code of ethics that regulates the relationship between a professional and a client (Joel &Kelly, 2002).

In most instances, professionals are required to be registered with a body that monitors and regulates the conduct of the practitioners. One cannot practice before being registered with the regulatory body. Nurses are required to be registered by the nursing board that regulates their conduct and investigates all allegations of misconduct. Upon the completion of training and before registration, nurses take the Hippocratic Oath binding them to the required standards of moral and professional behavior within the nursing profession. Breaching of these codes attracts penalties, such as deregistration and withdrawal of the practicing license.

Autonomy in Policy Formulation

A profession functions with authority in the formulation of professional policy and in the monitoring of its practice and practitioners (Blais & Hayes, 2011). This would mean that professions have a greater degree of control in the operation of their affairs. This gives the professional liberty to make an independent judgment about whatever kind of work they are doing. It thus increases self-interest and the deep and continuous evaluation of the set procedures and ethics. Nurses work with authority drawn partly from the autonomous nature of their job. Nurses thus devise and carry out their own procedure to care for clients when necessary (Masters, 2014). This gives them an opportunity to make their own judgments regarding their work, apply the decisive thinking skills and, finally, make nursing diagnoses and interventions based on their autonomous evaluations of patients and results of such patient analyses.

Distinct and Ordered Body of Knowledge

Blais & Hayes (2011) assert that a profession makes use of its practice of a well-defined and well-organized body of knowledge that is intellectual in nature and describes its phenomena of concern or subject matter. Nurses are known to use exceptional knowledge, understanding, and particular skills to initiate measures that are geared to save lives (Masters, 2014). Such distinct and ordered knowledge is also geared to improve health and enhance the well-being of humans on the planet earth. Thus, nursing is full of well-distinct and ordered knowledge, as proposed by Kelly and Joel in their qualities of a profession (Joel &Kelly, 2002). Nursing can, therefore, be said to be a profession.


The analysis and discussion of the four qualities of a profession proposed by Kelly and Joel give a strong proposition that nursing is indeed a profession. The gist of the discussed information demonstrates that nurses can be counted among professionals. The occupation involves being entrusted to the institution of higher learning, being with authority in policymaking, having well-organized and distinct knowledge, and a proper code of ethics, which qualifies to nurse as a profession.

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