Yesterday, a patient who was recovering very slowly and feeling so sorry about herself said to me “I am sorry that you have to work harder because of me”. I replied, “Nurses can only say they have done their work well if they helped their patients to feel better. If I have done that even at a slightest measure today, I have done what I was paid to do.”
Notice the word that I used: “paid”. Although historically, nursing has been viewed as a vocation, nursing has evolved into a very important profession with a key role in the society. However, evidence shows that nurses’ pay is still relatively low especially when attributes such as critical thinking, quick decision-making and problem solving are taken into consideration. Many nurses who had completed post-graduate studies are not being paid at par with those who have similar educational level in other professions.
Being a lowly paid profession, one can argue that nursing is a profession but remains partly a vocation.