N108: Transition to the Registered Professional Nurse Role Study Guide The American Nursing Association definition of nursing states, “Nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.” Abraham Flexner was an American educator who reformed medical education in the United States. His message to nursing was that nurses had some obligation to use their knowledge, status, and power to benefit those who do not possess those attributes. In 1910, Abraham Flexner identified a list of professional characteristics specific to nurses. These included: • Research: Constantly striving to add knowledge • Education: Higher intellectual level • Service: Applied to the service of humanity • Life work: Practitioners have a career and put service above personal gain • Autonomy: Function independently • Status: Compensate practitioners with freedom, money, and growth 1.2 Early Images of Nursing Nursing carried forward three heritages from the past that some believe impeded the development of nursing as a profession. They are the folk image of nursing fromprimitive times, the religious image of the nurse inherited from the medieval period, and the servant image of the nurse created by the Protestant-capitalist perspective from the 16 th to 19 th centuries. • Folk image: Primary responsibilities focused on nourishing and nurturing children, caring for the elderly, and caring for aging family members. Skills were learned through trial and error and passed from one generation to another. This image presents the nurse as a caring person who uses common sense to help the sick individual. • Religious image: Groups were organized in conjunction with the establishment of churches in the Christian era with their primary concern focused on care for the sick, the poor, orphans, widows, the aged, slaves, and prisoners. The first hospitals were developed at this time, located close to monasteries. The Crusades witnessed the founding of military nursing orders. Nurses in this setting were expected to devote their lives to caring and to exhibit selfless commitment based upon religious faith. • Servant image: The Reformation, which began in Germany in 1517, brought with it a change in the role of women. Duties were those of bearing children and caring for the home. Hospital care was relegated to uncommon women, a group consisting of prisoners, prostitutes, and drunks who had no status in society and were treated as servants who did distasteful tasks. This began what was called the Dark Ages of nursing.