Nurses’ Week

I know I’ve been remiss at keeping this updated recently. Not feeling inspired, I guess. Life without the peaks and valleys of career crisis and the like is not so very exciting!

Now I will admit that I’ve still been ruminating on the subject of my last post… not the opinions of others on my so-called luck, but my own feelings about where I’ve ended up. On the plus side, if you say to me, “So, do you like what you do?” I will reply, “Yes, I love it!” which is a far cry from how I felt about my L&D gig. But I can’t help feeling extremely odd that I’m not even a year into being an RN and I’m no longer at the bedside. This is not at all how I had mentally mapped out my career trajectory. And while I like what I do, I am missing a big piece of the puzzle that my RN coworkers have. I am struggling with that.

I wonder if some of this has to do with the question asked by those who are not in the healthcare field: “So, what do you do?” If I reply, “Well, I’m a nurse” then I am pretty well assured that the following image pops into the person’s head: me, in scrubs, stethoscope around my neck, mopping a brow, fluffing a pillow, or maybe checking vital signs. Maternity nurse? Well, that obviously means that I cheer “push!” during labor, and then spend a lot of time cuddling babies and admiring their tiny perfection. They most certainly are not picturing me sitting behind a desk, running reports, creating spreadsheets and presentations, wearing business casual… a scene remarkably similar to the one I left in career one, albeit with far less glamorous surroundings (I do miss SOME things about that career!). Most people cannot wrap their heads around the concept that A) nurses are smart people and B) nurses do TONS of stuff that go way beyond brow-mopping and baby-kissing.

You might be wondering what all this yammering has to do with the title of this post. Well, it’s Nurses’ Week (aka, if we stuff enough simple carbs down the nurses’ throats they will be too sedated to complain about anything… though my boss did get me a plant, which was quite a nice break from the ice cream socials/pastry carts/etc… I enjoy simple carbs as much as the next person, but there comes a point where it’s like, okay, nurses bust their asses all year and they’re supposed to jump for joy over stale pastry?). One cool thing about the week, though, is that we usually get a speaker in to talk about issues in nursing. Last year it was a woman who talked about generational differences. This year the speaker was supposedly talking about critical conversations, but really her talk was about nursing image. I found it fascinating.

In the beginning of her talk she mentioned the fact that nursing is one of the most respected professions. Nurses have a public image of being ethical and kind. Both good things! I’d be happy to be considered to be ethical and kind. The challenge is this… when the public was asked to think about how knowledgeable different professions were, nursing wasn’t on the list! Which doesn’t really surprise me, actually. If someone has a shred of intelligence and says, “Gee, I think I want to be a nurse,” the response usually goes, “But you’re smart, don’t you want to be a doctor?” The public image is that we’re angelic… and not particularly bright. Well, that’s just swell. The speaker didn’t mean to imply that we should move away from the ethical, caring aspect, rather that we also need to raise public awareness that nurses are there to save your life! We need to educate people about what it is that we DO. Nurses work extremely hard, but it isn’t a job that can easily be boiled down into a ten-words-or-less description. Often we just stick with “I’m a nurse” and so the dumb-but-kind image remains.

In thinking about this, I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps I need to get back to more frequent blogging… to explain what it is I do. I am a nurse. Just because I work in an office setting rather than a direct patient-care setting does not diminish the fact that I am practicing nursing (damn it!). So perhaps I need to stop feeling sorry for myself that my job does not fit into the neat public image of “Nurse” and rather start doing my own education about what it is that nurses do. Or, at the very least, what this nurse does. I’m frequently startled at how little even my fellow nurses know about the quality office. Generally we’re viewed as some sort of meanie police that wants to create more paperwork. Believe me, I do not want to create more paperwork… I want to help the nurse at the bedside to have the tools to provide the best possible patient care.

So now I need to think about where to start with all of this. If any of my readers have ideas of things to blog about, I’m open to suggestions!

And to all nurses, nursing students, and aspiring nurses, I do truly wish you a happy Nurses’ Week. We rock. We save lives. The end.

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