NURS 1511: Professionalism and Nursing Knowledge

Is nursing considered both a discipline and a profession?


The field of nursing is considered a discipline.

Nursing is unique and separate from other fields of study. However, nurses themselves sometimes struggle to clearly express the definition of nursing. During my time in a mental health organization, I observed a situation when nurses were posed with the question, “What does mental health nursing entail?” They frequently emphasized nursing tasks and responsibilities to highlight the unique nature of nursing compared to other fields. Nevertheless, it is possible that several of the mentioned activities could be delegated to other employees. Curiously, the patients’ comments when questioned about nursing were more indicative of the fundamental nature of nurses. The discussion revolved around the impactful presence and attentive listening of nurses, which significantly influenced their healthcare experience and recuperation. If nurses face difficulties in expressing the significance of nursing, how can they effectively convey to society the importance and indispensability of their profession? Consequently, nurses must comprehend and analyze the essence of nursing. NURS 1511: Professionalism and Nursing Knowledge.

Nursing is a multifaceted field that demands more than just proficiency in technical abilities. Although technological competency is necessary and significant, it alone is not enough. Here are some concepts regarding how nursing fulfills the criteria of becoming a discipline. As you go in this course and the nursing school, I encourage you to revisit these concepts to deepen your comprehension of the nursing profession.


From an academic perspective, nursing is considered a discipline due to its distinct field of study and dedicated areas of learning. Nurses get education specifically focused on the knowledge and expertise within the nursing profession.

The field of nursing focuses specifically on nursing’s principles, heritage, traditions, and the advancement of knowledge to promote caring, humanity, and health for all, distinguishing it from other disciplines like medicine.

An explicit disciplinary framework is necessary to direct the advancement of the nursing profession. In the absence of a disciplinary framework for knowledge and practice, the nursing profession may be compelled to adopt a purely technical perspective on human experiences. This technical perspective differs from the nursing discipline’s holistic viewpoint, which encompasses the interconnectedness of the mind, soul, and body. NURS 1511: Professionalism and Nursing Knowledge.

The field of nursing as a vocation

In order for the nursing profession to thrive and be successful, it need a strong disciplinary basis of knowledge and practice. Additionally, nursing deserves the acknowledgment and respect that society often attributes to a profession. The criteria used to define a profession differ from those used to describe a discipline, and a profession encompasses more than just a job. Professional nursing, such as being a Registered Nurse (RN), is distinguished from practical nursing, such as being a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) in Ontario, by having higher educational prerequisites and a more intricate range of responsibilities.

While there are multiple criteria that can be considered when determining if a career or field can be classified as a profession, the following five categories are particularly applicable to nursing.


Higher education institutions

A profession should have a well-defined educational route leading to practice and a continuously expanding body of knowledge within higher education institutions. Its educational objective is to equip students with the practical skills and theoretical foundation necessary to deliver safe and efficient healthcare as essential members of the inter-professional healthcare team.

The nursing profession is consistently broadening its range of responsibilities and pushing its staff to pursue further education. For instance,

Practice Autonomy

One defining characteristic of a profession is that, with legal authority, it has the autonomy to establish policies and oversee its own professional standards and the actions of its members. Nursing in Ontario demonstrates autonomy.

Compliance with a pre-established set of ethical principles

Increasing the breadth and depth of knowledge

Shared cultural norms and values among individuals. NURS 1511: Professionalism and Nursing Knowledge.

A profession typically exhibits a shared culture and set of values. An effective approach to cultivate and uphold a nursing culture and promote consistent values among professionals is to establish and enforce professional standards, such as


An essential aspect of the nursing profession is the establishment of a culture that values and promotes altruism, excellence, care, ethics, respect, communication, and accountability.