Monday, February 24, 2014

Just a nurse

I recently recall saying to a doctor, "Oh I'm just a nurse." I was surprised and pleased when he corrected me. Why? Because that's what people all around us tell us everyday. Maybe not in direct terms, but through their actions and speech, we know. Don't get me wrong, nurses get a lot more respect than they used to. But I know one thing for sure, I am anything but "just" a nurse. 

Nurses are intelligent. We may not have had as much schooling as other professionals, but I remember studying harder than I ever had before and not everyone makes the cut. By the time a doctor completes school and is ready to start practicing, even as a resident, a nurse the same age has had several years of experience in the field, dealing with complex problems on a daily basis. We have developed keen assessment skills and a killer gut instinct to go along with it. We often take part in courses to specialize in our chosen field, spending countless more hours becoming experts at what we do. 

Nurses work hard and fulfill a lot of roles. I am an educator, a portable pharmacy to my patients, a wound care specialist, a physical therapist, a phelbotomist, a janitor, and a bather, feeder, and dresser just to name a few things. We are expected to make sure our patients are medicated, clean, well-fed, educated and satisfied with all the care they have received at the hospital, no matter who it came from. I have found that we suffer the consequences when another hospital service is at fault for poor care. I will stand by this as long as I am a bedside nurse, a care partner (nursing aid, patient care tech, whatever you call them) can make or break you. No matter what, take care of your care partners, help them in anyway you can and treat them with respect! I know from first hand experience just how hard their job is. :)
Nurses are compassionate. We see people at their worst. We are hit, kicked, slapped, bit, verbally abused and degraded by patients, families and other hospital personnel. Yet we endure, because we care about our patients. We laugh and cry with them, talk them through their stresses, and are their for them when they need us. There is rarely anytime in a shift to decompress whenever a nurse encounters such harsh realities. I feel that many of us are forced to brush it off, laugh it off or bottle it up as much as possible. :(

Nurses are strong (mentally and physically). We work 12 hour shifts on concrete, lifting, pulling, and pushing patients. We hold in our sadness at the loss of a patient, pulling it together until our shift is over because we must carry on for our other patients. It is all too soon that there will be a brand new patient with a new set of problems to manage in that very same room. 

What is a nurse to you?

-Disclaimer- this post is in no way meant to degrade or belittle any other profession, or the patients and families we care for. As nurses we understand that the hospital is very stressful and sometimes that presents in the worst way possible. The only point of this post is to remind myself to always hold myself in high esteem for what I do. 

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