Learning to Take Responsibility

Mary Reidy


THE more experienced nurse often feels that young students no longer learn responsibility. The hospital-trained nurse fears that the non-hospital-educated nurse is unable to learn responsibility. Faculties from both hospital and collegial schools of nursing, with great divergence in curricula, believe they teach responsibility. Students and young graduates of either type of program claim they are responsible nurses. What is the source of contradiction in these conflicting feelings and opinions? Are one or more of these fallacious? Or, does the difficulty lie, rather, in a lack of clarity and precision in understanding what each means when she talks of "responsibility"?
While the professionalization of nursing entails the assuming of responsibility by the individual nurse, the heaviest burden would seem to fall on the nursing instructor, who is charged not only with being responsible herself, but also with helping initiates to the profession "learn to take responsibility". She must first comprehend the meaning of the concept, and then include measures to teach the concept as she plans her curriculum. This comprehension enables her to differentiate between the processes involved in "learning to be responsible" and those in professionally "learning to take responsibility."

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