Nursing's bid for professional status has been and continues to be a hotly debated issue. Much of the debate rests upon the question of what exactly the word professional implies, for many nurses do in fact consider themselves to be professionals while others would disagree. This paper suggests that nursing is not a profession but it is engaged in the process of professionalizing. A professionalizing occupation utilizes various vehicles to reach its own ends and, for nursing, it is suggested that the development of nursing theory at basic and complex levels is one such vehicle. Selected professional criteria are examined and it is shown that nursing theory development aids in the attainment of these criteria, thereby allowing nursing to become more professionalized.