You may recognize the title of this page as a line from Aretha Franklin's 1960s hit, "Respect." The anthem still resonates with nurses today. For all their education and responsibilities, nurses sometimes find that their work doesn't get the respect it deserves.
First, as a predominately female profession, nursing is still seen as less important than fields dominated by males, which includes many other branches of medicine. The way medicine is practiced feeds the perception. Nurses typically rank below doctors in authority, pay and education. So doctors sometimes -- whether intentionally or not -- devalue nurses' skills and opinions.
Some nurses also complain of disrespect from their peers. In one study, 70 percent of nurses said that fellow nurses and nurse managers who were rude, critical and unsupportive caused them to leave a nursing job. Among new nurses, 60 percent quit after six months due to this hostile environment [source: Townsend].
Then there are the patients. People who are sick, in pain or facing a frightening medical situation might lash out at nurses as the easiest target. One nurse compared dealing with patients to her previous job as a waitress, where she bore the anger of customers whose pizza had the wrong toppings [source: Bryan]. Some nurses blame the unflattering stereotypes offered by the entertainment media for desensitizing patients and their families. But nurses aren't the cold authoritarians or faceless servants you may see on TV (although even the best nurses have bad days -- they're only human). They're caring professionals, and quite possibly a patient's strongest advocate. That's worth remembering the next time you find yourself in the hospital.
- American Association for the History of Nursing, Inc. "Correspondence School Ephemera." (April 12, 2012) http://www.aahn.org/features/correspondence.html
- Aycock, Nancy, and Boyle, Deborah. "Intervention to Manage Compassion Fatigue in Oncology Nursing." Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, April 2009. (April 15, 2012) https://hci-portal.hci.utah.edu/sites/hch-nursing/staff-development/Shared%20Documents/BMT%20Article%20of%20the%20Month/Interventions%20to%20Manage%20Compassion%20Fatigue%20in%20Oncology%20Nursing.Aycock%20and%20Boyle.07.10.pdf
- Brewington, Kelly. "TV Nurses -- the Good and the Bad." The Baltimore Sun, Jan. 7, 2010. (April 17, 2012) http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/health/2010/01/nurses_portrayal_television.html
- Bryan, Heidi. Personal correspondence. April 13-14, 2012.
- Cardillo, Donna. "Are 12-Hour Shifts Safe?" American Nurse Today, March 28, 2011. (April 15, 2012) http://www.americannursetoday.com/BlogView.aspx?bl=6268&bp=8040
- Faller, Marcia. "Stopping the Viscous Cycle of Mandatory Overtime." American Nurse Today, December 2008. (April 15, 2012). http://www.americannursetoday.com/article.aspx?id=4122&fid=4104
- Franklin, Aretha. "Respect." Atlantic Recording Corp., 1985.
- Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. "Illinois RN Continuing Education Frequently Asked Questions." (April 13, 2012) http://nursing.illinois.gov/PDF/2012-01aa_IL_RN_CE_Relicensure_FAQ.pdf
- Institute of Medicine. "The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health." P. 86-88. National Academies Press, 2011. (April 15, 2012) http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12956&page=R1
- National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice. "Addressing New Challenges Facing Nursing Education: Solutions for a Transforming Health care Environment." P. 2. March 2010. (April 14, 2012) http://www.hrsa.gov/advisorycommittees/bhpradvisory/nacnep/Reports/eighthreport.pdf
- National Association of Licensed Practical Nurses. "Certification Programs Offered by NFLPN and the NFLPN Education Foundation." (April 16, 2012) http://www.nflpn.org/certification.html
- National Park Service. "Clara Barton at Antietam." (April 12, 2012) http://www.nps.gov/anti/historyculture/clarabarton.htm
- Parikh, Rahul. "Do Doctors and Nurses Hate Each Other?" Salon, May 30, 2011. (April 17, 2012) http://www.salon.com/2011/05/30/doctors_and_nurses_poprx/
- Terry, Allison J. and Whitman, Marilyn V. "Impact of the Economic Downturn on Nursing Schools." Nursing Economics, Sept-Oct. 2011. (April 14, 2012) http://nursing.uw.edu/sites/default/files/files/U1-Article-Impact_of_the_Economic_Downturn_on_Nursing_Schools.pdf
- Texas Nurses Association. "Facts of Unionization Tool Kit." 2010. (April 16, 2012) http://www.texasnurses.org/associations/8080/files/Facts_of_UnionizationToolKit.pdf
- Townsend, Terri. "Break the Bullying Cycle." American Nurse Today. Jan. 2012. (April 15, 2012) http://www.americannursetoday.com/article.aspx?id=8648&fid=8612
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Registered Nurses." Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition. March 29, 2012. (April 11, 2012) http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Registered-nurses.htm
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses." Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition. March 29, 2012. (April 11, 2012) http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm
HowStuffWorks asks whether patients should ask doctors for reimbursement when they have to wait a long time to be seen.