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Nursing – profession or occupation

Occupation is characterized by any type of work done by someone permanently.
Profession constitutes a very narrow scope of occupations who have the most privileged position in tehnical and social division.
It may seem strange to a question whether the “nursing today is a profession or not “, but it is theoretically desirable and fully justified.
Nursing has all of components of the occupation wich are: 1 The ability to perform activities for which we have been trained, cultured, educated. 2 To earn money. 3 The rules of education are prescribed by the State. 4 Job requires specific qualifications and knowledge.
We think that in Slovenia nursing is an occupation.
Nurses themselves are not uniform whether the nursing is a profession or not.
Let’s look at the characteristics of profession:
1 Autonomy. We think that autonomy is a key feature of the profession. In some way nursing is an autonomous, self-governing profession, a distinct scientific discipline with many features
autonomous practice. But nurses do not have this functional autonomy and social force, which would allow claims to have the same professional status and the same function as doctors. Autonomy in practice isn’t complete because nursing still depends on medicine. The bigest obstacle to the achievement of functional autonomy sister profession are nurses themselves, because they socialized to play “the role of women”.
2 Faculty level of education. The Faculty of Health Science in Maribor opened its doors to students in 2nd graduated Masters Courses – Master’s Nursing Program and Master’s Bioinformatics Program in the academic year 2007/2008, and Master’s program Management in health and social care in academic year 2009/2010. We hope that we’ll soon have the PhD Programs.

3 Profession based on the theory as a basis must have a theoretical starting point. Nursing has such a theoretical starting points.

4 Justification of professional associations, first at the local and then national levels. We have professional associations at local and national levels (Regional Associations of Nurses, Nursing Chamber of Slovenia).

5 Code of Ethics. Code of Ethics defines the relations of professionals with clients and colleagues. Code of Ethics is intended to assist the nurse in the development of ethical values and has led the work in the practice of nursing. In Slovenia we have Code of Ethics for nurses and medical technicians.

6 Legal protection. The nurse has right and it’s her duty to seek for legal protection for work that she’s done, through professional and other organizations. In Slovenia we have no legal protection for nurses, but there is the law on health care in preparation.
7 Pursue the occupation full time. Nurses are performing their duties full-time.

8 Recognition of authority. We still don’t have full recognition of authority, but we hope that in the future, the nurses will be able to stand beyond their knowledge an sometimes they will stand up to the doctors, who are forgetting, that nurses are not their servant any more.

9 Licence for working. In Slovenia we must have a permition (license) for working in practice. Ussualy it takes year or two before we get the license. But this is not a problem, because we can still work in practice without the license. The license last 7 years, and in this time, the nurse has to gain 70 licensed items to various lectures and mandatory content of the legislation in the health, ethics and first aid.
In Slovenia nursing is an occupation, because we don’t achieve all components of profession yet. Yes we works full-time, we have education to the faculty level, theories, professional associations in local and national level, we also have Code of ethics, and registration requirements for practice. But we don’t have authonomy, public authority and legal protection.
What can we do so that nursing won’t be only an occupation anymore?
1 We need authonomy in practice, but problem is that nursing practice still depends on medicine. The nurses must reach the professional stage, and the main feature has to be tendency of nurses to in addition to the arguments and skills speciffic to nursing, satisfy doctors and other health professionals, then the patients and the public that their contribution to health care must be seen in the professional view equal with doctors.

2 It has to be presented more positive to the media.

3 We need to continue to demand respect for contributions and it is essential to continue
to conduct ourselves in a professional manner.

4 We must gain authority to ourselves.

5 Legal protection must be insured.

6 Nurses must researc and write articles in science journals.

7 We must bring education to a higher level (PhD).
Nurses lay great emphasis on health promotion and using their knowledge and work focusing on health, social political and physical environment and the patient, not only on patients disease. And here nurses have a promising future in obtaining public authority and authonomy in nursing practice. That is why we think that nursing in Slovenia won’t be only an occupation, but it will be a profession.
Council on Education for Public Health. Competencies and Learning Objectives. 2006. Available at http://www.ceph.org/files/public/Competencies.pdf (21.02.2010).
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Kodeks etike medicinskih sester in zdravstvenih tehnikov Slovenije. Ljubljana 2005. Zbornica zdravstvene nege Slovenije, Zveza društev medicinskih sester in zdravstvenih tehnikov Slovenije.
Železnik, D. Kompetencam na pot. 2008. Obzor Zdr N 2008; 42(3): 165-167.