Salvation or Damnation: Deconstructing Nursing's Aspirations to Professional Status

Document Type


Publication Date



Aim  This paper will deconstruct the rationale(s) for aspiring to professional status in nursing.

Background  It is argued that ‘transformative nursing leaders’ must transition from operational to strategic aspects, such as considering the question of whether or not nursing should move towards professional status.

Method  This paper examines documented outcomes arising out of professional status and considers whether or not these are contrary to the central tenets of nursing’s underpinning philosophy and practice axioms. The outcomes scrutinized are: compensation, respect and recognition, political influence and clout, the consumer movement and the gender issue.

Findings  A carte blanche aspiration for professional status is irreconcilable with some of nursing’s central tenets. However, there are benefits that nurses should pursue.

Conclusion  Aspiring to professional status by adopting the normative orthodoxies and dominant discourse of our medical colleagues actually serves to reinforce and maintain nurses in a mostly subservient role.

Implications for nursing management  In place of adopting the gendered views of professional status, nurses and clients might be better served by the creation of a parallel discourse; one where the central and underpinning values of nurses and clients are seen as equal, though different to the values of the current dominant discourse.


To acquire a personal use copy of this work, contact John Cutcliffe at



Find in your library

Off-Campus WSU Users