Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in Sociology






Nursing -- Vocational guidance



Physical Description

156 Pages


The general concern of this thesis is with the professional status of nurses in the United States. Specifically, the focus is on the progression of nursing along the occupation continuum toward professionalism. The perspective of this study was adopted from Elliot A. Krause's discussion of "A Historical Perspective" in his "The Sociology of Professions." Krause maintains that an analysis of the past key periods of the history of an occupation can provide a basis for predicting what it will become in the future. The acceleration of change in all aspects of society, and particularly in the role of the nurse in the medical process, and her progression toward professionalism, prompted the study. It is accepted that nursing is an occupation, but there is no general consensus about its professional status. By following the progression of nursing from its earliest period when it emerged from a home-based art into an organized occupation with a specialized science, this study points out and analyzes the steps nursing made in its professionalization process. The criteria of a profession are used as the basis upon which the degree of progress is judged. The process of professionalization of nursing is shown to be very complex, fraught with many obstacles imposed by many factors. There are reasons to debate whether the occupation of nursing has yet reached the status of a profession, or if such achievement is even possible. The study also shows the direction nursing appears to be taking into the future, and the alternatives it can take. The study points out the importance of the professional versus the non-professional status, and the implications failure to attain professional status may have on nursing. The characteristics of nursing are presented in a broad macroscopic overview. Microscopic vignettes could be found which would refute any of the blanket statements made about nursing, but no attempt is made in this study to cover the minuscule exceptions. Data for the study were obtained from the literature dealing with the history, definitions and concepts of labor, professions, sociology, and nursing, as well as periodical professional publications.


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