Nurse Keith: Seeing the Potential in Nurses and Nursing

When thinking about the nursing profession, nurses (and even some nursing students) can occasionally feel jaded about their career potential. Some nurses can’t see beyond the hospital, and others feel discouraged that the profession is frequently ignored or misrepresented by both the media and Hollywood. 

Reasons to celebrate nursing

There are many reasons to celebrate nurses and nursing. The most obvious reason is that nurses are on the front lines of healthcare around the world, saving lives and contributing to society in myriad ways.

There is no denying that as the largest group of healthcare workers in the United States, nurses are the lifeblood and connective tissue of the healthcare delivery system.

Nurses provide care to the sick and dying, including children and the elderly. And although the general public may have an inaccurate perception of the breadth and depth of what nurses are capable of as healthcare providers, the annual Gallup poll consistently demonstrates that nurses are the most trusted professionals in the country.

Breadth and depth

The astronomical rise of nurse practitioners (NPs) in the United States has fueled much greater awareness of nurses. More and more Americans receive care from Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) in both the acute and outpatient setting, and APRNs are filling the gap as a shortage of primary care physicians deepens, especially in under-served rural and urban communities.

With APRNs gaining practice autonomy in an increasing number of states, NPs will find even more ways to serve the public good. And with the Veterans Administration granting full practice authority to APRNs as of January of 2017 (with the exception of Certified Nurse Anesthetists), veterans are now enjoying the benefits of expert advanced practice nursing care.

Higher ground

When President Trump demanded the resignation of Obama appointee Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD in April of 2017, it was not immediately predicted that Deputy Surgeon General Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D., RN would be appointed as Acting Surgeon General until a new Surgeon General could be nominated and confirmed by the Senate.

The American Nurses Association and numerous other groups loudly applauded the appointment of the first nurse to serve as Surgeon General – albeit temporarily. With Admiral Trent-Adams’ appointment, nurses everywhere can take notice that one of their own now holds a high-profile post with enormous responsibility for the public health of the country.

Seeing the potential

Nurses are trusted, and they are trustworthy. Now that a nurse commands the highest public health position in the United States, we can admit that nurses’ value is hereby unassailable.

Those seeking to advance their nursing careers can choose to open their eyes to the fact that the nursing profession is in a 21st-century renaissance. APRNs are ascending to new heights of independent practice, and nursing will continue to see growth and advancement.

Even as healthcare policy is hotly debated in the halls of Congress, nurses will continue to save lives and change lives. Nurses can rise above the fray, serve the public good as they always do, and embrace the potential of a profession that has exponential opportunity in its future.

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, consultant, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. He can be found at NurseKeith.com.

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