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If Nursing Profession Is Ailing, Greater Recognition Is the Cure

May 10, 1987

Writing as a registered nurse who happens to think this profession is the greatest, and as the mother and mother-in-law of registered nurses, and as a role model who has encouraged many other fine nurses, there are a few things I wish you had done before you printed your article.

First, it would have helped if you had asked some of us who love nursing how we felt.

A nurse who would not encourage her own daughter to enter the field is burned out and should not be practicing--she does herself and, more important, her patients, a disservice.

Second, you should have researched nursing salaries more carefully. The figures you quote are national averages.

Nursing salaries in California are very competitive with any other profession, such as engineering or marketing, where only four years of education is required.

As in any career, if one contributes and grows and adds to one's knowledge, one's compensation increases as well. It is not unusual for nurses who have remained at one hospital for several years to make $40,000 or more per year.

Nurses who hospital-shop, specialty-shop and do not advance their education, quite naturally, do not do as well.

Unfortunately, there are still women in the work force who are what we term "washing-machine nurses"--that is, they work long enough only to pay off the new washing machine.

Men rarely look at a job in this light, and thus are more career-oriented. Once the bulk of women working outside the home aim their sights higher, a great deal of what is perceived as wage discrimination will cease.

Of course nursing is hard work! So is laying pipe and plowing fields and, as far as I'm concerned, staring at a computer screen all day.

The "strokes" from patients and family, however, are wonderful, and can ease the most aching of feet. Please, in the future, do a more upbeat article. Negative writing only contributes to a negative image.



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