Video of IA Governor Saying That Nurses Don't Have a College Education Goes Viral

4 Min Read Published October 28, 2022
Video of IA Governor Saying That Nurses Don't Have a College Education Goes Viral

In a rather confusing turn of events, Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds publicly criticized loan forgiveness for workers who choose not to get a college education—including truck drivers, machinists, and in her words, nurses. 

Her comments came in a nearly hour-long debate hosted by Iowa PBS’s “Iowa Press” with her opponent, Democratic candidate Deidre DeJear. The full video can be found on CSPAN, with her comments about nurses coming in just before the 40-minute mark. The debate host inquired about the Governor’s opposition to Biden’s student debt relief program, to which Reynolds replied:

“It does nothing to reduce the high cost of education. It does nothing but encourage bad borrowing practices. And if you're a truck driver, or a machinist, or a nurse, or a person that decided not to seek a college education, why should you be responsible in paying somebody else's off, especially when they often make more than you do? I just it's not right. It's not fair.”
DeJear did not address Reynolds’ error, but pointed out that she knows many truck drivers and nurses who do in fact have student loan debt. Social media, on the other hand, was quick to criticize Reynolds for her comment, with countless videos posted on TikTok and Instagram displaying nurses’ reactions. 
For instance, @erikagmom_rn posted a scathing TikTok reply:

@erikagmom_rn Deidre DeJear for Iowa governor. Because nurses deserve better. #iowagovernorkimreynolds #kimreynolds #youaresodumb #nursesoftiktok #nursetok #midterms2022 ♬ original sound - Erika G, RN
@tiger.nurse My preschooler knows that nurses go to college 🤦‍♀️ #nurses #nursingstudent #nursesoftiktok #nursingdegree #nursingschool #nursingschoollife ♬ BILLIE EILISH. - Armani White

“I usually don’t talk about politics but seriously?!?!” Theresa Campbell posted, including a picture of her with her BSN and MSN degrees framed. “What have I been doing killing my self for the past 12 years and paying ALL this money for if I’m not going to be considered an educated person! Maybe Kim needs to educate herself because I have more degrees than she does! BSN is one of the hardest degrees to obtain Kim! My education is extremely important to me!” 

Other nurses posted humorous takes on what it would actually look like if nurses weren’t educated at all—examples included guessing on medication doses, going for that IV start without any training, and having no idea of how to actually do an assessment. You know, easy things anyone without an education could do as a nurse!

@archer_fit757 #greenscreen #greenscreenvideo I can’t even make this up!🤦🏽‍♂️😂#fyp #fypシ #nurse #lol #wow #embarrassing #college #whatajoke ♬ original sound - Archer Gray


Still others noted how pointless their actual degrees must be if they aren’t needed. “From a nursing student, I didn’t know I didn’t need this degree! Apparently, I don’t have to cry a few times a week from the stress…”

Commenters also pointed out that in addition to her error in assuming nurses don’t need a college education, trade workers do in fact, receive an education as well. Many found her comments downright insulting to the trade workers, truck drivers, and other professions who quite literally keep our world running—even without overlooking the fact that many of them work very hard to get trained in their fields.

And while a formal education is certainly not the only means to a successful career or mastery over one’s craft, other nurses, such as Nurse Erica, pointed out that, ironically, even Reynolds herself didn’t actually complete a college education before becoming governor. She was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in public administration by Iowa State University in 2016—well after she was already governor. 

What Education Do Nurses Receive?

Of course, if you weren’t already aware, nurses do in fact, receive an education—with some nurses receiving quite an extensive education of a decade or more. While there are some diploma-prepared nurses, most nurses now receive an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and can go as high as doctoral levels programs and certification to become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Practitioners, such as a Nurse Anesthetist or Nurse Practitioner—such nurses can act as primary care providers or provide specialty care in hospitals and health clinics. 
At the very minimum, in order to become a Registered Nurse, you must graduate from an accredited program that will prepare you to take The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN® exam, the licensing exam to receive your RN license. The educational levels vary, but in general, nurses can choose from the following programs:

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that the profession of nurses has been widely misunderstood by a politician. In 2019, Senator Maureen Walsh of Washington State (R-Wala Wala) famously made the statement that nurses spend most of their time “playing cards,” leading to a literal outpouring of reactions from nurses everywhere. 
So far, Reynolds’ website does not have any type of statement or response about her comments. But just in case any other politicians are reading: nurses do not spend all of their time playing cards, they are highly educated and trained, and despite criticism about their roles, they will, in fact, still save your life when you need it. Because nurses are always professionals. 

Chaunie Brusie
Chaunie Brusie Contributor

Chaunie Brusie, BSN, RN is a nurse-turned-writer with experience in critical care, long-term care, and labor and delivery. Her work has appeared everywhere from Glamor to The New York Times to The Washington Post. Chaunie lives with her husband and five kids in the middle of a hay field in Michigan and you can find more of her work here

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