I have been reading a very interesting argument on Twitter which kind of ties in with a discussion I had with two of my friends last Friday about a slightly different (yet related) subject.
The discussion I had was about Nursing and how the quality of the care provided by some of the nurses appears to have changed since Nursing became a "Profession" instead of a "Vocation" - as in you need a degree before you get a foot in the door.
The argument I have been reading was about another "Vocation" which is in danger of turning into a "Profession" - Policing.
When I was thinking of writing this blog post I posted a simple survey on Twitter.
The question I asked was; "When you joined the Police what did you see it as - Profession or Vocation?"
Out of 104 people who responded 41% said "Profession" and 59% said "Vocation".
Now - call me crazy if you want to but - according to me - any job where you are dealing with members of the Public who may be in distress, or where you have any kind of "authority" over them, should be treated as a Vocation.
There is one very good example which I can give you of the reason I said that.
Teachers are not my favourite people on Earth. I have come across far too many of them who appear to think that students should fit in "easy to teach" boxes - or at least that was the attitude shown by most of my teachers.
The one teacher who I left school not wishing to seriously damage was also the one who showed me that I mattered. In fact, had that teacher and my Year Head at the time swapped places I would have stood a better chance of explaining why I wanted to leave that school after half a term. Had that teacher been my Form tutor I might not even have got into that situation in the first place.
You can have degrees coming out of your ears but if you cannot show the students your human (and humane) side how do you expect them to trust you???
The same goes for every other Public-facing role I can think of.
I lost count of the times when I was either used as an encyclopedia on the subject of my Grandma's Medical History or practically told not to be so stupid when I raised a question about some aspect of her treatment. The most insulting incident was when my Grandma had had a major operation - and she had expressed her wish for me to be informed in my earshot (in fact - one of the nurses had rung me up about the operation because my Grandma's next-of-kin - my Dad - was out of the country on business) but when I asked how it had gone I was flatly informed that the nurse would only discuss the outcome with my Dad (who was - fortunately - back in the country at that point). For some strange reason - one of the nurses was quick enough to inform me when one of the nightstaff had accidentally fed my Grandma (who was on a pureed diet at this point) a piece of toast to counteract a "hypo" - dangerously low bloodsugar - and narrowly avoided (if not killing her) doing some serious damage.
One of my favourite Twittercops is seriously considering leaving Policing and I am actually rather upset about this. I have never met the Officer concerned but - from our conversations on Twitter - he seems to be one of the "Vocational" Officers. Not for him the idea of Policing being merely a "Profession" - he lives his job.
I have suddenly realised that by using the words "Profession" and "Vocation" I may have led you to think that I equate Policing, Teaching, and Nursing, to something like the Priesthood or joining a Convent???
What I actually mean by those words is as follows;
"Profession" - you do it as a job and you work for the money you earn - nothing else.
"Vocation" - you do it because you are passionate about making a difference in the lives of the people you serve. The fact you get paid for it is something of an added bonus.
Of course - there are "Professionals" in every job - some with very high level qualifications but zero levels of people-nurturing skills.
However, my favourite bus drivers, teacher, Twittercops, etc, have all got one thing in common - they are all "Vocational". As in - their job is not about them and what they can get out of it. Instead it is about what they can ut into helping others.
The "Vocationals" are rapidly moving from the "Endangered Species" list to the "Extinct" list - we need to turn this around before it is too late.
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