What is a "Real Nurse?"

When I worked in case management, I heard a few nurses comment that case management nurses weren't "real nurses."  I have also heard nurses comment about surgical nurses, home health nurses, and medical device nurses. All these comments revolve around this "real nurse." phrase. So what does it mean when someone says, she is or isn't a "real nurse?'


It seems that nurses who work in ICU, ED or Med Surg are the only "real nurses."  I think many nurses feel this way because they want to feel superior to other nurses. Some nurses do have the "God complex" and they seem to believe they're better than others because of the specialty they work in. There's no doubt that working in the ICU or the ED allows you to constantly perfect your "nursing skills."

However, there are different skills involved in every specialty of nursing.  No matter how skilled an ICU nurse is, she cannot work a shift in surgery without training. Training to be a surgical nurse takes about six months to a year.  Case management is another skill set that may not involve bedside nursing but instead involves managing patient's medical needs administratively.  Certainly not something that an ICU nurse can do without a lot of training. 

While, nursing school does teach certain skills such as monitoring vitals, administering medications safely, inserting foleys, evaluated and assessing patients and the list goes on. However, we must remember that one of the reasons many people choose nursing as a career is because it does offer so much opportunity in different specialties should you tire of one, you can switch to another. 

Not all nurses are women. Not all nurses wear stethoscopes, and not all nurses assess patients. But the bottom line is that regardless of the specialty you choose in nursing we all receive the same training in nursing school and we are ALL REAL NURSES.  

Forming an opinion about a nurse that works in case management because you feel she doesn't have the same skills you have is unfair and wrong. What you may not know is that the case management nurse you think lacks the skill to be considered a "real nurse" may have already worked in surgery, the emergency room and ICU. She may have a skill list a mile long. But even if she's always been a case management nurse and has never stepped foot in an ICU to work, she's still a nurse. Just as much as any ICU nurse!

Regardless of the creed, color, sex, age or specialty, any nurse is always a REAL NURSE

Be nice and respect all nurses for the incredible job they do!