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A letter to my 3 million friends … and *sigh* the folks at “The View”

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Dear Joy and her friends …

I understand that your view of healthcare and nurses in general may be very limited.  Why, I suppose if I had all that fancy money (which I don’t), I’d have home visits from Doctors with Doctor’s stethoscopes too.  So I understand your ignorance.  First I do want to say, thank you to Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson, for bringing nursing to the headlines.  It’s nice not to hear about another socialite and what non important thing she/he did today.

I also suppose that you know about “Hollywood” nurses.  Hot Lips Houlihan, that nurse from Grey’s Anatomy, and who knows who else.  I also suppose you think that I wear a short white dress with my breasts hanging out.  And I also suppose you think that I constantly have sex in the supply and/or linen and/or janitor closet at the hospital.  Let me tell you the juicy stuff …. I don’t. Hollywood has either sexualized the nurse into something we don’t represent, or like the nurse on the TV show Scrubs … a total bitch.  Again, I’m not those either.

Did you know that it was a school teacher turned nurse that started the American Red Cross?  Did you know that it was a nurse that started Planned Parenthood?  Did you know that it was nurses that started organized home visits and midwifery?  No, you probably didn’t.

Did you know that it’s the nurse who holds the parent’s hands as their new-born baby is being taken away after delivery due to complications?  Did you know that it’s the nurse who comforts the parent, spouse, children, who-ever when a loved one dies unexpectedly?  Did you know it’s the nurse who listens, without judgement, to children who are abused (sexually, physically, emotionally) while we exam them? Did you know that it’s the nurse who listens, without judgement, to the patient who can’t get off drugs to improve their life… but tells us how they will sell their body for their next fix?  Did you know that it is the nurse who does chest compressions to save the life of our patients (and not “Hollywood” compressions)?  Did you know that we are the ones that holds the emesis bucket while the cancer patient throws up during their sixth round of chemo?  No, you probably did not.  Did you know that we are bound by privacy laws … so we can’t share any of this?  We can’t share our day with our family when we get home, so we can vent like other people do about their jobs? No, we have to internalize it and move on.

Did you know that it’s the nurse who celebrates with the patient, who walks for the first time after a tragic accident?  Did you know that it’s the nurse who celebrates with the child who is able to eat for the first time after being unable to eat for weeks at a time?  Did you know that it’s the nurse who celebrates with a patient when they get the all clear from their cancer?  Did you know it’s the nurse who celebrates with the parents after the birth of a child, who took many years of trying and treatments carry a child full term?  No, you probably didn’t.

I am a nurse, and I am a nurse educator.  We take (mostly) unknowing students and teach them how to be professional, caring, and compassionate.  I teach them that our elderly have fantastic stories that they will only ever get out of a book, and here is their chance to hear it first hand.  I’ve talked to patients who told me of their time in Vietnam during the War.  Of how they were working at a factory in San Diego, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor … and how everyone stopped to listen over the radio … all while the patient had tears in their eyes.  I’ve had patients tell me about their first television in the home, watching man walk on the moon, how they literally walked up a hill and back down to get to school in the morning.  These students are going into a hard, body breaking career, not the most glamorous, not the best paying, many times not the best smelling, but oh so rewarding.  They will never be able to look back and say, “I wish I never did that.”

Did you know that the Gallup polls put nurses at the number one spot every year as the most trusted profession?  Only one year we did not meet that … was for 9/11 … it went to the Firefighters … and yeah, I’ll give them that!   Did you know that nurses are not only in the hospital and at the bedside?  We are your school nurses, your chart auditors for your lawyer, your case manager, your advocate, your educator, your researcher, your politician, your communicator, your counselor, change agent, leader, clinician, advance practice nurse, administration, forensic nurse, military nurse, and so many other roles.

We cannot do our jobs without other nurses, physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, speech therapists occupational therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists, nutritionist/dietitians, case Manager/social workers, EMT/EMS teams,  pastoral care, nursing assistants,secretaries, house keeping, kitchen help, janitors and so many more.  When they say it takes a village …. well it takes a team to take care of patients and families.  So we thank you!

To my 3 million friends … now is our awakening … we have been fired up.  I beg of you to take action for the nursing profession.  Become active in your national, state and local nursing groups. Become active in the actions happening in Washington D.C. that affect nurses, nursing care, and how we do our jobs.  Be active and aware in the state boards of nursing where you live … know what it going on in your own state legislature that affects the care you will be giving.  Be aware of the actions of the Robert J. Woodson foundation, QSEN, the IOM’s Future of Nursing … all of these can and will affect you!

Do the best nurse you can be … don’t be there for a paycheck … if that’s where you are at … find another area of nursing that fits you.  As Miss Colorado said, nursing is her talent.  It is not a skill that we are born with.  Find what your passion is and go to it.  I love education … It’s so rewarding to me, it’s my passion.  Find your nursing talent.

As for you Joy and the rest of the View … other professions may refuse to service you if you offended them like you have us (have you got that yet, we are offended!).  But in nursing, we are caring and compassionate … so when you come into our care … we will still take care of you to the best of our abilities, as we have sworn with the Nightingale pledge.  Because all lives matter.  Even yours.

NURSING teaching stethoscope

NURSING teaching stethoscope

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