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The Million Dollar Question: Who Exactly Is A Nurse
Date Posted: 09/Jan/2017
Let us start whith the question; Who should be allowed to call themselves a nurse? And also for Licensed and Registered Nurses is it important to protect the title or is it no big deal?
Before reading the article, take a few minutes to ask yourself the following:
Do you cringe when people use the word “nurse” loosely? Or worse, refer to themselves as a “nurse” when they are neither a Registered Nurse (RN) nor Licensed? Do You get pissed off when you see how Nurses are depicted in the Nigerian Movie scenes? Or when a quack causes the death of a patient and the newspapers use the headlines "Nurse kills..., Nurse Steals..." just to get a captivating headline? Do you get angry when you see an individual wearing white carrying a bucket of water along the roadside, carrying a jerrycan to buy fuel at a gas station, or at a market to buy foodstuffs knowing that its unsafe to do such?
I do. I cringe. As an RN who spent years in school, who worked hard to pass the Nursing And Midwifery Of Nigeria Council Licensure Examination and just as hard to pass the pre-requisites of organic chemistry, anatomy and physiology, I support protecting the title of nurse and restricting its use to those who have done the same.
Lets take a look at various terms in the healthcare setting
. Nursing "Assistants"
You the public should realise that "technically" Nursing Assistants are mostly uncertified though some are, but are not licensed, although the terms are often used interchangeably. Mostly use see such individuals working in most oil and gas settings
. Medical Assistants
Medical Assistants are trained to work in office settings, but they are not licensed and are not nurses. Medical Assistants may change dressings or give basic first aid because they perform under the direction and supervision of a doctor (or other licensed provider). 
In other words, they cannot perform these functions independently.
. Office Staff
The term “nurse” is often used to include anyone employed in a doctor’s office or who wears white which is totally wrong. The perception of nurses as maids and a doctors assistant has led to any female associated with a doctor in a helping capacity being called a “nurse”.
Ironically, most doctors who run or operate private clinics or hospitals rarely employ RNs because of the cost involved to pay such individuals what they are worth, instead prefer to pick secondary school leavers, dress them in white and present them as nurses to the unsuspecting public.
Receptionists, cleaners and assistants in a doctor’s office have been known to refer to themselves as “nurses” or allow patients to do so just because members of the public have come to associate any lady wearing white in a hospital as a nurse. nursingworldnigeria They should politely correct people who refer to them as “nurse”, the same as teacher’s aides should correct those who call them teachers, and paralegals should correct those who call them lawyers.
. Graduates of approved nursing schools/programs
Persons who have completed an approved nursing school program or graduated from a department of Nursing in an accredited university but have not passed the NMCN Council Licensure Exam are not nurses and may not refer to themselves as nurses.
Completing an approved nursing program of study is required in order to sit boards but does not confer a nursing license. A nursing license is issued after successfully passing the NMCN exams.
It’s possible to hold a Bachelor’s degree of Science in Nursing (BSN) and not be a nurse if you have not passed this exams yet. 
A BSN is an academic degree, but schools do not issue nursing licenses. The Nursing & Midwifery Council Of Nigeria issues nursing licenses.
. Licensure
Practitioners of nursing must have a license to practice nursing and to represent themselves as a nurse. A license is a grant of legal authority to practice a profession within a designated scope of practice.
Nursing regulates its profession through licensing in that the NMCN Exams are uniform across all states in the country. 
A nursing license is like a driver’s license in that it is:
Issued by the NMCN
Granted to those who meet requirements
Renewed at regular intervals
Required to drive (practice)
“Restricting use of the title "nurse" to only those individuals who have fulfilled the requirements for licensure as outlined in the nursing practice act is a protection for the public against unethical, unscrupulous, and incompetent practitioners. The American Nurses Association 2013 states that the Nurse practice acts describe entry level qualifications such as education, practice standards and code of conduct for continued privilege to practice nursing.” 
. Public safety
Always Ask The Question: Are You A Registered Nurse? It's your right to know who is taking care of you as a patient. Licensing is intended to protect the public.
Many of these quacks who work in private hospitals across the nation in vrious states do not realize that it is a punishable offense to represent one’s self as an RN, RM, BSN if not licensed by the NMCN because they havent seen anyone purnished for such an offence yet. Hospitals blatently put up adverts announcing start of a new year of trainings in less than 3 months to such individuals before they are distributed accross the states to the same private hospitals to practice. These same hospitals charge exhorbitant fees to its patients but instead of recruiting qualified and registered nurses to man their hospital wings they prefer to save costs and pay these quacks pennies to come work for them. Mostimes in such you might see out of 8 individuals working at a hospital, 1 or 2 would be RN's while the rest are quacks but all dressed in white. 
Impersonating a nurse is a crime and is purnishable by law if the NMCN and bodies who are supposed to act stand up and take action.
The Real Problem
Part of the problem is that the public does not know what nurses do. The concept of what nurses do is vague, and so is the term “nurse”. We will never be fully respected as a profession as long as we are not successful at articulating to the public just what it is we do.
By Avalon

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