More on Nurses Week [Updated]

I thought there would be outrageous outrage at my suggestion that we end the meaningless charade of Nurses Week. Apparently not. Many of my colleagues and comrades-in-arms have come to similar conclusions, as in here and here. Too much ersatz cheerfulness and goodwill evidently can make the best of us go bleh.

The best comment is from Madness: Tales of an Emergency Room Nurse:

Nurses care okay? If we didn’t we wouldn’t be in the profession. It just irritates me that nurses are always portayed as these angels of mercy in scrubs. My job is not being an angel of mercy. My job entails being a medical professional who has a complex, stressful, challenging job. I have to be able to do everything from delivery your baby to save your life and everything in between. I’m the one that will keep you alive, it sure ain’t the doctor. The doctor spends five minutes with you and I spend the other 23 hours 55 minutes of every day with you. If I don’t recognize you are going down the toilet, you will die. That’s what being a nurse is. We are the difference between you getting better or worse, living or dying.

Sure I’ll listen to you, sympathize with you, if I have the time. Most of the time I don’t. I’m too busy managing the medications,machines, treatments, technology it takes to care for you in a modern hospital.

So portray me how I really am. Not as some sappy Florence Nightingale. That went out decades ago, if she ever existed at all.

“I’m the one that will keep you alive, it sure ain’t the doctor. ” Amen, sister, preach it. Every nurse should wear this on a t-shirt.

But she probably didn’t really mean to slam old Flo, who defied every social convention of the 19th century England, travelled to a war zone and battled entrenched bureaucracy and stupidity with great effect and effectiveness: she’s the model nursing should be looking to. Nurse Jackie? Not so much.

[Update 11/05/10] Dreaming Tree over at Med Surg Zone documents the worst Nurses Week Idea Ever: make the nurses buy raffle tickets to fund their own”appreciation” ice cream:

After weeks of meetings, the greatest minds at our institution came up with a way to show us just how much we are valued and appreciated. Money was raised by selling raffle tickets to the nursing staff. One ticket for $2, or three tickets for $5. The money was used to purchase ice cream. Yes, ice cream. An announcement was made on Nurses Day that ice cream was available in the cafeteria from 11:30 – 1:30.

I paid $5 to buy a small scoop of ice cream to show how much I’m appreciated. The kicker is that when our manager saw that none of us were leaving the floor to go get ice cream, she and our admission nurse dropped everything to bring the ice cream to us. When nurses asked the admission nurse for help with tasks she normally completes, she turned them down because she was too busy delivering ice cream. No kidding.

I’d be sending any bleeding ice cream to the managers, with the cypto-sarcastic note: “You Managers are really the Best!”


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  1. #1 by @rdjfraser on Tuesday 11 May 2010 - 0942

    I whole heartily agree with you that we need to drop the “nurses do it becaue we care” bs. We do it because we like people and want to save lives. I’m 100% for removing any flower giving or putting on of aires during Nursing Week, however, I think we should use it while we have it. Yesterday, instead of counting the 101 reasons I’m a nurse or I love to spend time with sick people I went to a meeting with a politician. We have people’s attention this week so we should use it. Not to be humble and bashful but to explain what we do, how we save lives, and what we need but aren’t getting.

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