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I recently read an article that posited the idea of changing what we call ourselves to better attract individuals who might not consider the profession if the term "nurse" is used (Dixon, 2003). The article stated that according to the Center for Health Professions (CHP) the nursing shortage is really just a shortage of white, middle-aged women and that "recruiting outside the stereotype-meaning minorities and men-could significantly expand the workforce." Frank Heasley, PhD, President/CEO of MedZilla, a healthcare recruiting agency, was quoted in the article and said:


"I don't think men in particular enjoy being called nurses. It carries a very strong gender stereotype in our society. Perhaps nurses should be called 'medics.' The fact is that is what they do and the change of title could be positive for both men and women."


That a healthcare recruiter could think that the words "medic" and "nurse" are interchangeable and imply the same function is scary indeed. First off-when I put the term "medic" into the Internet search engine Google, sites came up from paramedical information to eBay offering Armed Forces Medical Special Operations kits. During my completely unscientific poll I asked several friends (most of whom are not nurses) what "medic" meant to them-they thought of the armed forces (eBay was right on!). Military medics are trained to patch up injured soldiers in a dangerous field operation and transport them to the MASH unit where the nurses can take care of you. To think that nursing could appropriate the term "medic" seems fairly arrogant.


However, I don't want you to think I am opposed to changing our name. Let's consider it. Secretaries are now administrative assistants, stewardesses are now flight attendants, and stay-at-home moms are now domestic engineers. Perhaps we should call ourselves "Healthcare Professionals." I rather like that-I could be "Kathy Duckett, Healthcare Professional." And because that is my title and it's specific to what I do, no one else could use it.


Of course all of the other healthcare professionals I work with may not like it. Perhaps "Healing Facilitator" is more apropos. Healing can be physical, emotional, or mental. We certainly facilitate healing on many levels, and the term isn't gender or race specific. However, those other pesky healthcare professionals might bristle at not being seen as Healing Facilitators.


Actually, I don't want to change my title. I worked my butt off for my degree and then sat for 8 hours a day for 2 long days taking my Boards. A nurse starts with the desire to help care for the ill or injured. This desire is informed by knowledge and clinical education, then honed by experience. None of that has anything to do with gender or race. Rather than changing our names, let's instead change the way the world sees us.


I am proud to be called a nurse. We need to educate everyone that being a nurse hasnothingto do with being white, or being female. I am not a nurse because of my gender, my race, my sexual preference, my marital status, or the color of my hair.




Dixon, M. E. (2003). Answer to nursing shortage: Minorities and men. Advance for Nurses Online. Retrieved August 12, 2003 from http://www.advancefornurses.com/common/editorial/editorial.aspx?CC=19757. [Context Link]