Nursing may be the most familiar health professional group in the world, second only to physicians. Nurses far outnumber all other groups of health workers, with an estimated 12 million nurses working worldwide. Women constitute the overwhelming majority of nurses, with estimates ranging from 89 to 97 percent in countries of the global north. According to the 2003 American Nurses Association Social Policy Statement, “nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and population.”

To achieve this range of activities, nurses operate in four domains: clinical or bedside practice (the work most commonly associated with nursing ...

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