September 10, 2005, 3:37 am

Degree Digression

If caring were enough….anyone could wear a cape. On a lark, I looked on eBay and there was a navy blue wool nurses cape with red wool lining!

I kid you not. Did I bid on it, you ask? You’re darn right I did! And if you’re looking for a cap, they are on eBay, too. Not used ones, either. Real, new ones that look just like my school cap before the ribbons are on.

Did I bid on one, you ask? Of course not. Not yet.

Look, I’ll do anything to dress up like a nurse from the 40s and I thought about wearing this outfit at work on Halloween. Everyone will think it’s a costume, but it will be a thrill for me. Stupid, I’m sure but at the moment it is almost 0400 and I’m somewhere between
too-awake-to-sleep and too-tired-to-function. I have no doubt that I will read this later this morning and cringe. But for now, I get a kick out of the idea!


I’ve come to terms with something recently; I have absolutely NO urge to get my BSN.

I used to think that I should, if I could and that I would. Eventually. Now the kids are virtually grown, I have the time, I could swing the funds and I don’t want it. I’m a bedside nurse. Always have been, with the exception of a foray into psych nursing and telephone triage. It’s what I love, when you get down to the core of why I’m a nurse. It’s what I am good at. It’s what my Associates degree prepared me for.

The thought of writing papers and researching and comparing differing nursing models while dealing with the obnoxious topic of nursing diagnoses makes me comatose. (Good ol’ Sister Callista Roy’s Adaptation Model was good enough for me in school and it is good enough for me now. And if you had told me in 1977 that I’d be saying that in 2005, I’d have said you were nuts!)

Ironically, I love learning! I read the journals, I love attending classes, and working in the emergency department requires me to keep up-to-date on all the specialties. I want to increase my fluency in Spanish, take a class on Shakespeare, pick up a violin – maybe even learn to play it, speak Japanese and, well, you get the idea.

But….I’ve no interest in managing a department, I respect those who can. Teaching is not one of my gifts. I enjoy the hospital environment; I’ve never been interested in public health nursing. I’ve never needed a BSN to accomplish what I’ve wanted in my career.

I work with a wonderful woman who is just short of getting her Phd. in nursing. I work with nurses with their BSNs, nurses who are Diploma graduates and some have their MSN. There is room for all. Everyone brings a different talent, a different ambition, a different perspective. When all is said and done, we’re all caring for the patients and my place is right at the bedside.


  • kenju

    September 10, 2005 at 7:36 am

    I knew that. Your caring and concern comes through in your writing. I have heard nurses say over the years that they miss the contact with patients (as they rise up in the ranks). Good for you for knowing where you should be!

  • D Bunny

    September 10, 2005 at 12:00 pm

    Even with a BSN, there’s virtually no chance of getting into management anyway.

    I have a BSN, and the only time it’s come in handy is when I was a medical writer. Otherwise, I’ve never made one penny an hour more for having it.

    My philosophy: If you’re already an RN and want to continue your education, get a USEFUL degree. Business, computers, education, health care administration, etc. No one outside of nursing recruiters respects a BSN. It’s truly a degree in waitressing in the eyes of the general public. Sad but true.

  • Vicki

    September 10, 2005 at 7:38 pm

    I had a hysterectomy in 1983. At that time, in that hospital, the surgical floor provided total nursing care. No orderlies, no volunteers, no N.A.’s, just RN’s. I loved it, and so did they, with the possible exception of the woman who worked the 11 p.m. – 6 a.m. shift; she was no fun to wake up to! I had great care. I still remember the name and face of one nurse, Pat. She was cool.

  • Kim

    September 10, 2005 at 8:05 pm

    Total patient care was really big in the 1980s. When I was in school, we did “Team Nursing”. I like the total care concept better because you know your patients, backwards and forwards….

  • Gypsybobocowgirl

    September 11, 2005 at 12:46 am

    I did my BSN for the simple reason that I always knew that I would do a bachelor’s degree in something. By the time I got around to doing it, it was faster to get the BSN than a degree in Ag Business Management (which was my original major). I do however, love to teach, so maybe someday I’ll do a master’s and teach when I retire. Right now, with occasional foray’s into the EP lab to train and help with more complicated procedures, my job is Quality Assurance. I love numbers and math, but where my true passion lies is in approaching QA at the bedside nurse/physician level. It is pretty novel, but I don’t go to a bunch of committies–I just go to the bedside, explain what is going on, and let them tell me how to improve it. Then we implement the process, at the beside level. Act now, apoligize later is my theory. I never thought I would like anything away from the beside, but I really have the best job in the hospital.

    And, in my experience the entry-level ADN is far better prepared to care for patients than the entry-level BSN. But, in the 80’s when I was in school, we got ripped off, because it took 4 years to get that ADN.

  • Kim

    September 11, 2005 at 1:34 am

    I love it – act now, apologize later! My new motto! I actually took three years to do my ADN because my first year out of high school I took all the non-nursing courses/prerequisites. Because I had just graduated, I did not have to take any math classes, nor did I have to take Chemistry. So I was really a part-time student while I was in the program, and I lived at home and only worked now and then. Talk about cushy life – I have no clue how the students with families managed…

  • Susan

    September 12, 2005 at 1:55 pm

    When I got my BSN back in the day, it was going to be a requirement for employment in the big Chicago-area hospitals. The nurses were being told that if they didn’t have a BSN within a certain amount of time, they wouldn’t have jobs.

    Then came the nursing shortage, and that all flew out the window.

    But I value my degree. I know there are many ADN or Diploma nurses with more experience and expertise than I have, and I have no hankering for management or research, but am proud to say that I have a baccalaureate degree in the science of nursing.

    I’ve always wanted to get an advanced degree someday – maybe become a nurse-practitioner or nurse-anesthesist – so I feel like I have laid a great foundation for my career.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t like patient care. It just means that, in my case, I want to be as well-prepared as I can for any avenue in nursing I want to pursue.

    But we all fit. We are important pieces of the nursing community. The main thing I love about nursing is that there’s something for everyone.

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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