It’s the dawn of another Nurse’s Week. I remember working in the hospitals and my coworkers and I would try to guess what cheesy gift we would get. Would it be a branded tumbler? An umbrella with the hospital logo? Maybe it would be a $5 off coupon to the cafeteria , which if you worked night shift, was never open, so you always gave it to the daytime friends.
Got to thinking today about what do I, as a nurse, really want? Last year, Homeland Hospice bought us really beautiful bracelets which had a heartbeat motif. Probably the nicest Nurse’s Week gift, so far.
But, again, what do we nurses want?
We want to take care of our patients
We want to have safe nurse/patient ratios which allow us to properly and appropriately care for each individual patient.
We want to be able to take on a shift without feeling we have shorted a patient of care.
We want to feel that our voices our heard. We are in intimate contact with patients and family members, often for more hours of the day than we are with our own families so, telling us we don’t know a patient is beyond untrue.
We want to feel fulfilled – I came into nursing not to document or jump through red tape hoops, but, to use my knowledge to care for someone. Give me that time I need to do so.
We want our profession to not be a mockery – the naughty nurse, the lazy nurse, the doctor’s stethoscope and most recently, the entire shift card players. Take nurses out of healthcare and watch it crumble. Who else can juggle patients, doctors, families and coworkers? We are a profession. A profession that deserves respect and distinction.
We want it known that nursing school is HARD. I may not be Einstein, but, I am no dummy – I had to study hard to get through nursing school. From the all nighters to the nervous puking during an exam (yep, the proctor followed me to the bathroom to make sure I didn’t have notes hidden behind the toilet) to seeing classmates not make the cut. Those are hard years where we found ourselves questioning if it would be worth it. (Spoiler: Yes, it so was)
We want to have it understood that we are constantly trying to stay educated and informed in order to provide the pinnacle of care. From specialized certifications (which some are harder than NCLEX), to reading journals and attending conferences, the hunger to learn and translate that into care never stops.
We want to be understood. This might be a tricker one. No one understands really what a nurse goes through besides another nurse. Not many people get what it’s like to go 8 – 12 – or 16 hours without so much as stopping for a pee break. Sure, there are supposed to be breaks, but, often we are trying to figure out what is more important – a break or finishing our shift within say an hour or so of when it was scheduled to be done.
We want to educate all that each limb of nursing is with its own share of hardships, difficulties but, also, its unique rewards. A floor nurse might run from the beginning of her shift till the end. An ICU nurse might be titrating drips, monitoring alarms and comforting families. A hospice nurse might be fighting traffic and bad weather to get to a patient’s home only to find the patient in need of care and that nurse has to do it all on their own.
We want you not to look at us as if we are incompetent when we say “I don’t know the answer to that, but, let me find out.” It takes more courage to say that than I could ever properly express. In a profession that isn’t always respected and often thought of a secondary, to say that it huge. But, when we do, we sometimes get eye rolls or huffs. Just remember, we do that to provide the best and safest care possible because we don’t know everything. Do you know every tiny detail about your chosen profession?
We want you to know that we don’t have the luxury of “turning off” our jobs. Often times, someone at home will catch me in deep thought and try to bring me back to Earth. The vast majority of the time my mind is running through my day – what did I not do? How could I have done something differently? Was I present enough? Sometimes, we need a good cry to let it all out. Sometimes, we need a good friend’s night out with peers and just vent. But, no matter how much venting we do, there are always those silent moments where we think of our patients and their families – always wondering what more we could have done.
We want it know how much we love doing what we do. “You are so smart, it’s a shame you are a nurse. You could have been a doctor and really made a difference.” Oh, yes, that one is my absolute favorite. We CHOSE to be nurses. Not for the pay, because really, can you honestly get paid enough to do some of the gross, nasty and physically taxing things we do? Nope. Is there a dollar amount high enough to compensate for our worries and emotional stress? Not a chance. We do this job because we WANT to do it and not because it was some secondary back up because we couldn’t achieve something else. I do it for my patients. I do it for my families. I do it for me because no matter how hard, this is what I love to do.
We want y’all to know that a smile and a thank you go a long long way. So do massage gift cards and cookies. Hahaha
We want you to know that no matter who you are, how many zeros your bank account has, what good you have brought to the world or what crimes you have committed- we will treat everyone with the same level of skill, compassion and care.
We want you to know that this may be Nurse’s Week, but, that every week is devoted to our patients and those who love them.