1. We flunked out of Med School.That would be a no.. A hell no. First, and foremost, we CHOOSE to be nurses. The caregiver on the frontline, entrusted with patient’s safety, direct patient care, vigilant monitoring. There’s a reason why attending doctors request that nurses come on rounds; we are the primary source of information about the patient, and as a sidebar; we have education and training that reaches Masters and Doctorate levels, but we are more interested in being called “nurse.”
2. “You clean patients and give bed pans….isn’t that demeaning of your job?” One hundred percent of our job includes doing whatever it takes to help a patient feel more comfortable. Yes, at times we find ourselves wiping bottoms with explosive diarrhea, excrement we didn’t know a human body could hold, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t admit it didn’t affect us personally - Yet this is how we see it; Preserving a patient’s dignity is never demeaning.
3. “But you only have a patient or two. It doesn’t look that hard on TV.” Follow a nurse around for even an hour, and you may rethink this statement. In critical care, Peri-Op, or home care, you may have one or two patients, but you will work hard every damn minute of those twelve hours. In Med Surg, ER, L&D, you may have up to 10 patients or more, many at critical status, but they are extremely busy patients, many of whom are de-compensating, and here you will barely have a minute to catch your breath. TV only touches the surface of what we do, and is glorified for ratings. TV doesn’t show the labors of slaughtering a body during cardiac arrest, the sweat of our bodies in a crowded room, the honesty of fear, the shouts of doctors, nurses, house supervisors, the agony of losing a patient - and the reality of cardinal errors. TV doesn’t accurately portray how a nurse feels after a gut wrenching day of attempting to save a life, the insomnia, the late night thoughts of “what if”.
4. All nurses want to marry Doctors, and all Doctors flirt with the nurses. While it’s true that many romances are sparked from proximity, commonalities - and perhaps some innocent flirtation, it doesn’t imply this is the only connections we will find at work. There’s also other nurses, techs, nutritionists, pharmacists, respiratory therapists - nurses may flirt with doctors, but they also may have a mind blowing conversation with the transporter who everyone else underestimated to be less than intelligent. Nurses are interested in the human beyond the title, and beyond the mask.
5. Doctors do not respect nurses. Not always accurate. Respect, and lack thereof, is attributed to a person, and their character, not specifically the profession. While there may be doctors who talk down to nurses, there are also just as many doctors who treat nurses with the utmost respect, valuing their collaborative input, and as an important sidebar - nurse have the utmost respect for what a doctor does for their patient. Every hospital role is unique, stressful, and has its own challenges and rewards. And nurses respect that.
6. “You get more days off than regular jobs. You should be more energized”. That would be a no, as well. Every job, not just nursing, has its own stresses. It’s incorrect to assume that nursing is a light job merely based on less days of work. We work 12 hour shifts, often longer when a patient is in distress. We require a great deal of rest and often solitude to reflect on the enormity of what we recently faced, and our decisions. We often prefer the company of just our pets, who have no demands except to be near us. We may like to go to a party, but find ourselves exhausted after only a drink and overwhelmed by too many people, longing for sleep and the bliss of drifting off into oblivion of only calming thoughts - we actually admire anyone who can finish a day’s work and be fresh enough to go out that same night. Maybe people perceive us as boring homebodies, but we are sometimes just honestly content with perfect quiet, a sort of stillness so we can face another day.
7. “ The doctor saved my life.” In many regards, this is true. The role of the doctor is integral in patient care. However, it would be incorrect to assume a life is saved unilaterally. Nurses make critical decisions that contribute to saving lives. But it would also be incorrect to assume nurses are the only ones saving lives. It takes a team effort to save a life, and often it starts with the patient care technician, or the nursing assistant, who noticed something was amiss. It’s the collaboration of many disciplines that anticipate, and contribute to quality of care - from the lab tech who draws blood when no one else can find a vein, to the radiologist with educated diagnostic skills to the pharmacist who catches fatal errors. Everyone’s role is unique, everyone’s role is important. And everyone has one goal. To care for, and maintain the dignity of human life.
8. “There isn’t any real growth in nursing. You’ll always be a nurse.” This may surprise people, but we are just fine being called a nurse. But do not say “just a nurse.” It minimizes what we do. Nursing actually has a great deal of growth opportunities. Many of which the public do not even see. And we are ok with that. A great deal of growth is internal, and we carry that with each patient we meet. Besides, titles do not solely bring respect. It’s character, and how well we honor one another and what we do.
9. “Nurses complain all the time.” Hmm. This may be true. Oops. We spend 12 hours practicing patience, mediating between doctors, families, pharmacy, advocating for patients, other nurses and debating supervisors about safety. We are not complaining about our job. We love being nurses, we are complaining about the LIMITS of the job. Every job has its difficulties, its stresses, and struggles. This is just simply ours. Please understand, and support us when we feel discouraged, and not very social or cheery. Sometimes we are conserving our smiles and positivity for our patients and coworkers.
10. Nurses are strong, resilient and tougher than people would guess.
Actually, this is true ;)