Archive for category Teddy Bear Alert
Nurses Week is fast approaching. I am steeling myself mentally for the steady drizzle of syrupy tributes from various health care apparatchiks and functionaries, who will inevitably make some reference to nurses as “angels” and the “beating heart of health care” or some such tripe. I have yet to see an article this year illustrated with a teddy bear dressed up as a nurse, but it is early days yet. A reminder: if anyone approaches you with such a teddy bear in recognition of Nurses Week, do not look the bear in the eye, but instead beat it against a hard surface till the stuffing flies out, or the honour of the nursing profession is restored, whichever comes first
I was put in mind of all of this reading some of Nurse Keith’s old blog entries over at Digital Doorway. I came across this post, which pretty well sums up my feelings about the association of teddy bears and angels with nursing, and also their use in scrubs. Nurse Keith wrote:
Somewhere along the line, the “angels of mercy” moniker became attached to nurses as a group. Granted, in the early days of nursing, nurses’ ability to act autonomously was extremely limited, and we were, by and large, the handmaidens of deified doctors. However, as much as that regrettable history has largely changed, the image of the nurse as angel unfortunately persists quite widely in our culture and websites galore promote gifts and baubles that continue to diminish nurses’ professionalism. Images such as this one drive home the point: nurses are childlike individuals with starched white hats who love teddy-bears. Adding insult to injury, nurses can actually be depicted as winged angel/teddy-bears, further enforcing the infantilization (and deprofessionalization) of our profession. Would doctors allow themselves to be thus represented to the public?
Rather than being perceived as cherubic angels and childlike creatures, this writer feels that being perceived as the valuable and skilled professionals who we truly are would allow the public to have a much more accurate perception of what we do, and our importance to the care of millions.
[. . .]
Nurses’ uniforms have certainly changed over the years, and as scrubs have become the norm for nurses in most clinical settings, many companies have capitalized on the popularity of such utilitarian clothing. Now, designer scrubs covered with angels, teddy-bears (there they are again!), and any number of cartoon-like images adorn the hard-working bodies of nurses around the world. If nurses want to be taken seriously by the public—and by doctors and other professionals—how does the wearing of such (in my opinion) unprofessional clothing help our cause?
Picture this: a team meeting occurs midday to discuss a patient on the adult oncology floor. Present at the meeting: a medical resident, a medical student, the attending doctor, the oncologist, two unit nurses, a social worker and a respiratory therapist. Of all of the professionals in the room, who would possibly be wearing pink scrubs covered with teddy-bears and hearts, and a pin on her chest saying “Doctors Cure, Nurses Care”? And what message does this convey about the nurse’s self-image and how the other professionals present in the meeting should perceive him or her?
Well exactly. Imagine you’re dressed in an angel-motif scrub top, and you’re trying to give discharge instructions to a patient. Do you really think the patient is going to take you seriously? Really? Or you’re trying to get the physician to order more narcotic analgesia dressed in deep rose pink scrubs, a colour, I admit, which makes me do the inward cringe every time I see a nurse wearing it. Does that deep rose pink convey to the world the exact amount of professionalism and intelligence nurses believe they possess?
I guess I am wondering if there anyone out there willing to defend the whole nurse/teddy bear/angel thing, or even say three cheers for teddy bear scrubs or even frilly “feminine” scrubs?
Teddy bears win one in Ottawa (click the link and scroll to page 9), a fail for the nursing profession:
Thanks to the lobbying efforts of one Local Coordinator/Bargaining Unit President and her members, and the overwhelming support of the public, The Ottawa Hospital has backed down on its plan to forbid nursing staff from wearing “colourful” scrubs. As recently reported in a local newspaper, the hospital announced to staff a new dress code that would ban nurses from wearing scrubs or uniforms that are colourful or feature cartoon characters. Saying the change in policy was part of a push to make nurses “easier” for patients to identify, the hospital also announced nurses would have to wear white lab coats while away from their units, including while on breaks.
“The hospital said it wanted nurses to appear professional and recognizable, but as registered nurses, we pride ourselves on being considered professional,” said Local 83 Coordinator Frances Smith. “When we see a patient, we introduce ourselves and our conversation with that patient is the most important thing that happens, not if we’re wearing lab coats. Often, the most cheerful thing a patient sees in a day is our colourful scrubs.* Meanwhile, our members are overworked, with the hospital at over 100 per cent occupancy the majority of the time. [Emphasis mine]
I’m not sure this is a victory for nurses, though. I’ve said it before: dressing like you should work at Chuck E. Cheese franchise does little to help your cred, when explaining, say, to your patient’s wife why her husband has to go for emergency surgery for his AAA. More to the point: which other health care profession thinks it’s okay to wear teddy bear scrubs, outside of Paediatrics?
Answer: approximately none.
Just me thinking out loud, but it I firmly believe anything that tends to infantilize or trivialize our professional integrity is to be avoided at all costs. Even if it means chucking all of those teddy bear scrubs in the trash, or better yet, burning them in a hot fire of renunciation.
*If “colourful” scrubs are the best we have to offer as nurses, boy, are we in trouble.
Courtesy of my Google News feed this morning, I came across this, possibly the most boring headline ever written about nurses:
I think nurses of, ahem, uncertain age will recognize this headline or its variants, because for the last twenty years we’ve been hearing with tedious regularity about impending wave of nurses who happen-to-be-male about to wash upon the shores of our female-dominated profession. This tsunami of eager male graduates has never actually materialized: in the U. S. (the article points out) about 6% of nurses are male; in Canada, the numbers advanced from a miniscule 3.8 % of nurses in 1995 to a very tiny 5.89% in 2005.
I’ve always been somewhat puzzled why young men find the prospect of a nursing career so unappealing and distasteful. On the face of it, the practical reasons for choosing nursing as a profession are compelling: nursing offers good pay and benefits, job security, portability, advancement, and so on. Is it because nurses have difficulty clearly articulating what we do without jargonizing like an abstract of a scholarly article on nursing paradigms, or worse, sounding like very inferior and dependent versions of physicians? (I recently saw an article somewhere by a nurse, and darned if I can’t find it, which defined nursing as a primarily concerned with executing physician orders!) Or is it because popular culture presents our profession as trivial, infantile and powerless and nurses by-and-large collaborate in maintaining this image?
[Update: Minor grammatical correction. Gaw, I need an editor, ’cause can’t proofread and I miss the stupidest things.]
Regular readers will know there are few things I enjoy more than conflation of nurses with either robots or teddy bears because, as you know, nothing symbolizes nursing like mindless automatons or the simpering cheerful banality of stuffed animals.
So can it get any better than a “nurse” robot that looks like a teddy bear?
If you are gorgeous, compassionate, and ready to star in a hot new television show, this may be your big opportunity. Studio Lambert, the production company behind the mega-hit CBS show Undercover Boss and creator of Project Runway, is teaming up with MysticArt Pictures and they are searching for dynamic nurses and nursing students for a new docu-series titled Cali Nurse.
Cali Nurse will be a light-hearted, sexy docu-series that follows a group of young nurses and nursing students as they experience comedy, romance, and fun. The girls will eat, sleep, and live together while viewers watch what unfolds at the house, at the hospital, and in their social lives. Nobody knows more about helping people than nurses, giving viewers the opportunity to see their big hearts and caring ways at work. Studying for practical exams, dates with McDreamy, and working an extra job in your spare time – the TV audience will see it all as the show captures the lives of those learning to save lives.
Sexist and demeaning and devaluing to nurses? You think? There is some sort of letter-writing campaign against this, but I guess it will deter the producers not in the least. And I don’t doubt either there will be no shortage of nurses or nursing students* willing to contribute to the bimboization failing to appreciate the dignity and value of their profession.
Also, it reminds me of this.
*Aside: Any nursing student considering doing this, needs to seriously and reflectively think about being a nurse.
What more can I say?
So, we nurses don’t want towels or party favors for Nurses Week. The best present of all would be hospital floors that always have enough nurses. A serious effort to reduce the amount of required documentation, giving us more time with patients in exchange for less time in front of the computer, would also be a welcome Nurses Week change.
Or how about lunch? Research by Dr. Ann Rogers and colleagues in the Journal of Nursing Administration in 2005 showed that nurses routinely work through their allotted lunch breaks in order to provide patient care. Indeed, on my floor, “lunch” often means eating in front of the computer while we chart, shoveling down food before running off to give pain medication to a patient who needs it, or putting aside all thoughts of food while helping a patient who’s “having trouble breathing.”
Actually, I think we could make a list of what nurses really want, starting with lunch, and it ain’t lanyards, pen lights, or managerial warm fuzzies. My list would start off with Respect and Empowerment. But yeah, lunch occasionally would be nice too.
My deep thought for today, since I accidentally published the post I was going post today yesterday (damn you, WordPress interface, for confusing me!), is that Nurses Week will provide ample opportunity for Teddy Bear Alerts* — you know, the writing about nurses that is sweet and syrupy, or that encourages nurses to behave like saccharine doormats; you think of teddy bears, dogs wearing sailor uniforms, or little red-headed girls in pinafore dresses, and then you throw up in your mouth, just a little?
I will keep my eyes peeled for potential nominees to the first (coveted) Annual Teddy Bear Award for Excellance in Demeaning, Degrading, Soapy/Saccharine or Sterotypical writing for or about nurses.
It’s my public service to you.
*After this infamous post, where I slammed teddy bear scrubs, and the nurses who wear them.
Okay, it might be the gastro talking. But.
I know Nursing Notes likes this article, but for my taste it smacks a little too much of the nursing lit version of those damn annoying Teddy Bear Scrubs, you know, the sort of uplifting, motivational piece where it’s shown Nurses are Super! and Nursing is a Super Profession! and ever every bullet point ends in an Exclamation Mark! because, you, Nurse, are Super!
A clue: the author worked in Human Resources prior to coming over to the Dark(er) Side. I can’t help but notice our supposed “virtues” happen to coincide with a managerial vision of what nurses are meant to be, i.e. hard-working, picking up extra shifts, increasing patient load with nary a complaint, etc.
I’m feeling queasy enough.
I also like teasing already angry cats by poking them with pointy sticks.
Anyway, some free and completely unsolicited thoughts on nurse uniforms, just to throw a little gasoline on the fire.
1. White is dead. Deader than Florence Nightingale. More out of date than IV theophylline. Sorry. It’s ugly, hard to clean, gets that dingy-grey colour, looks crappy on me, and did I mention it’s ugly? Also has unfortunate and disturbing overtones of the old nurse-as-physician’s-handmaiden-and/or-sex-toy meme. I think of nurses in white uniforms, and nursing caps, capes and Marcus Welby, MD come to mind. And the olden days when nurses would all stand when the physician came to the floor.
Years ago, nurse uniforms were all white, very basic. Well, that look is making a comeback of sorts. This time at Heartland Regional Medical Center in Marion.
“The nursing staff went with white. Because how basic can you go back to then seeing a nurse in all white. It signifies purity and professionalism and caring and that’s what we’re about,” said surgical unit director Greta Smith.
I get the professionalism thing. But the purity angle? What the hell is that about? We’re pure of heart? We wash our hands? Morally pure? Have never known men carnally (or women, as the case may be)? Gratuitous aside: I often think managers tend to project their own neuroses into the policies they write.
2. On the other hand this I think is just plain silly:
I’m with At Your Cervix: if you are wearing cutey-bears — makes TowontoEmewg Fwow Up, it does — I cannot take you seriously. Unless you are a paeds nurse. (Frankly, even then I would be a little doubtful.*) Can you imagine explaining thrombolysis to your STEMI patient dressed in this? Personally, if I were the patient, I would either get the giggles or be very, very afraid. Because, as we know, nothing bespeaks competence in health care like teddy bears. Not to mention infantilizing the wearer, which brings us back to the basic problem with All White.
3. For my money, it’s got to be your basic solid colours. Nothing too frilly. No apple blossom pink, or anything like that. (See infantilization, above.) Even better, pick one colour to wear, all the time. Then you don’t have to worry about matching anything, and you don’t have to think about what your going to wear. Face it, you’re going to work in blood and faeces, not walking down the runway at Chanel’s spring show. Add stethoscope and name tag, and you’re Nurse Deluxe.
You’re welcome. You can direct hate mail/flames to my employer, Acme Regional.
*Also, everyone always says it’s okay for paeds nurses to wear bears. Or what-have-you. Why?