DEAR PATIENT

I get really frustrated with people when they hear about the nursing profession and think of us as “pill pushers”, “candy stripers” or even “ass-wipers” (excuse my French). Nursing is not and never will be anything like that, and you will never truly understand it until you’ve worked as a nurse or have been cared for by one. And no offense, but you still may not grasp it entirely when you’ve been a patient.

Nursing is said to be the most trusted profession in the United States.

This fact is actually surprising to me, due to the way nursing can be portrayed in the public by social media. We’ve been humiliated and scoffed at by shows such as the View, saying nursing isn’t a talent and stethoscopes are only for doctors. We’ve been sexualized in so many ways I could never write them all in a list, Halloween is just one of the top. Not saying I’ve never dressed up as another profession, but I feel that nurses are a large target for skanky Halloween costumes. And whether the rest of the medical world wants to admit it, we are a difficult career to get into because of our schooling and testing. The Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing was chosen by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the toughest undergraduate degree. I will never argue that anyone else’s Bachelor’s degree is less or easier than mine, Guinness just decided to rank degrees according to the most exams, quizzes, assignments and so forth.

Glamorized.

Nursing is also exceptionally glamorized by shows such as Grey’s Anatomy (my personal favorite ❤), Nurse Hawthorne, Nurse Jackie, and Scrubbing In by MTV (THE absolute worst, but it’s insanely entertaining). Some of these shows portray us as lazy, uncooperative, cowardly, and yes, you guessed it, slutty. I can tell you my first couple of months working off orientation have been FAR from Grey’s Anatomy, when three residents walk your patient for you. Or even the typical medical show with nurses swooning for doctors. Yes, I have had some amazing residents that have helped me through dressing changes, educational instruction, and even just listen to my struggles with some hairy discharges, but they have so many patients to see and orders to write, it’s just not real life.

There are a million and one explanations of what nursing truly is. In my own words, I’ve found that nursing is one of the hardest things I will ever do in my life. It’s not only putting your health aside while you nurture and help someone back to the highest level of functioning possible, but it’s also dealing with everything bad in-between. The chaos we manage and mistakes we fix (as well as make) are all important pieces to the nursing story.

BAD GUYS? 

Nurses are sometimes seen as the “bad guys” in the eyes of the patient. We are the rule enforcers. We’re the ones who won’t let you drink or eat food when it’s after midnight and you’re scheduled for surgery in the morning. We’re the ones who wake you up in the middle of the night to take your vital signs and give you pills. We’re the ones who make you cough and do breathing exercises although your lungs are on fire and ribs are broken, because we know that pneumonia would be worse. We’re the ones who make you get up and walk when you’re in pain.

The real titles.

But, I hope you understand someday, that it’s never our intentions to make you angry, to keep you hungry, or to cause you pain. We act with your very best interests in mind. We have to look at you, as a puzzle with missing pieces and a hundred other pieces that might not fit and decide what goes where. We have to coordinate your care with social work, physical therapy, nutrition, other medical facilities, doctors, insurance companies, etc. The title “NURSE” comes with so many other descriptors, such as coordinator, educator, supporter, friend, ADVOCATE being my favorite, and the list could continue forever.

            We wear our “doctor’s stethoscopes” with pride, knowing that we may even be able to decipher lung sounds better than most residents [NO OFFENSE, guys. Don’t worry, you’ll get there! One of the little things we got on ya 😉 ]. We wear smiles on our faces, even though a new admit is making their way upstairs to wreak havoc on our perfectly planned afternoon, or facing the fun fact that we work the next three days of the weekend, while our family is barbecuing or having fun without us. Our competence is continually questioned, which can be one of the most EXHAUSTING parts of our job, but standing our ground with your health in mind keeps us strong. And even when everyone else tells us were wrong, or that our “nurse instinct” is wacky or misleading, we continue to trust our gut and catch mistakes, surprises, and slips that save your life.

We Try.

We do try to be mindful about answering call lights. We do try to treat your pain as quickly as possible. We do try to get your doctors to come update you and your family. We listen to every request, word and even the words you don’t say. We do try to be the best nurses we can.

As best I can, I try to put myself in your situation. Imagine how scary this must be, how overwhelming, and how much pain you must be experiencing. I can try all I can, but I will never know. So, I chatter about whatever I can think of to get your mind off of it. I ask you about your family or your pets. I might even try to crack a joke, and it’s not because I think I’m funny or think the situation is, but I’d rather distract you with silliness and mindless conversation than let you focus on your pain or injuries.

The next time you have to put on a hospital gown, or run a family member to the ER, just try to remember this:

Nurses are human and we try our very best.

Always so thankful for everyone who takes the time to read and support my page. As always, please give me feedback of any kind. Until next time. ❤

3 thoughts on “DEAR PATIENT

  1. Maria….you write with such passion! This is so good! After an 8 day stay in the hospital last May, I have a deep respect for the nurses that took care of me. They are the primary care givers! They ARE the ones that carry the compassion for their patients. Thank you for all that you do!!

    Liked by 1 person

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