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What makes a good nurse?


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Recently there was a very interesting conversation on Twitter during the weekly RNChat : Twitter Chat June 2, 2011 9pm EST

I won’t go into the details about the specifics of RNChat, I think I’ve covered them before. I highly suggest attending one if you’re interested in learning more the nursing profession and the challenges we face, or would like to chat with Nurses on Twitter who have a passion for their profession.

So this question was posed: Nursing Education: What legacies in Nursing Ed need to be ditched and what ought to replace them?

The conversation bounced around many themes for this topic. Everything from standardization of education requirements, standardization of CEU requirements across the nation, incorporation of the internet, informatics and many others.

As this topic progressed the pulse of the conversation seemed to change gears a bit. All of sudden it was about the age old question in nursing BSN vs. ADN.

This debate sparked other opinionated question like:

  • Is one better than the other and why?
  • Should BSN be the basic requirement for an entry-level RN?
  • ADN nurses have better prepared than BSN?
  • ADN nurses get more experience at the bedside during their schooling, so they are better prepared for the bedside as new grads?
  • BSN nurses have better critical thinking skills?
  • Should employers require nurses to get their BSN?
  • Who’s going to pay for it?
  • Are ADN nurse being shuffled through their schooling too fast just to meet the needs of the nursing shortage?

The conversation sort of hopped all around for quite a bit. Through it all I noticed that individuals were actually taking sides. We were getting territorial – even in cyberspace about this topic!

It seems the ADN nurses were taking the defensive stance on being a good nurse even without the auspicious bachelor’s degree. While the BSN nurses were of course promoting the advancement.

I gave you that very long intro to ask a simple question. What makes a good nurse?

Is it their degree? Is it their school of nursing where they got their entry-level education? Do ADN nurses make better nurses due to increased clinical time during their entry-level education?

I don’t know about you, but initials after someone’s name never made them ‘GOOD’ at what they do. I have met some of the most educated and highly trained individuals who make the worst clinicians. While some of the best nurses still only have their diploma.

What really makes a good nurse?

Is it a fine combination of skills, education, time in grade, compassion, humility, caring attitude, and that can-do attitude?

I think the answer to this question is so complex and so fragmented that we probably will never know the real answer. And the fact that we cannot answer this question in simple terms makes our profession all the more suspect.

I know I’m running circles around this concept but let’s think about in terms of advancement of our profession. Is advancing our education the answer to increasing the quality of our care?

We could sit here and argue about Evidence Based Practice and accepted norms, but in the end we as nurse are required to constantly ask the question, ‘Why’. We do it every day in our practice, regardless of work setting. So we ought to ask the same question about what makes a good nurse, because in the end don’t we reap what we sow?

My apologies for skyrocketing off on a tangent about this topic, I just find it mind-boggling and fascinating that we still can’t come to an agreed collaborative answer.

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