We Need To Stop Glorifying Nurses

Grey's Anatomy
Grey’s Anatomy

I read this article on Thought Catalog the other day and couldn’t let nurses get away with playing the self-sacrificing hero anymore. 

Let’s be real. Nursing is our job. And sometimes it sucks and is hard and we wonder why we do it. And then we have a really rewarding moment with a patient that reminds us why. But we aren’t angels. We aren’t heroes. We are nurses. And nursing is just our job.

And we get compensated very well for the relatively little education we have. We don’t have the education and knowledge doctors have. They do the hard work. Unless they work in an ICU or a critical care setting, nurses don’t make the decisions that will save your life. We sometimes prevent mistakes that might make you sicker, but we aren’t going to cure you or fix you. We are going to do nursing-related tasks that are aimed at making sure you don’t get sicker and hopefully make your stay in the hospital a little bit better. 

And that often involves things that aren’t so pleasant. Let’s face it, wiping butts and cleaning up vomit isn’t the funnest thing ever. But teachers do it too. And they get paid half as much as nurses do. And to be honest with you, most of the time nurses don’t clean up poop and vomit. Nurses often delegate the gross stuff to the CNA’s. 

In the end, the CNA’s do the dirty work and the Doctor’s do the hard work.

But every nurse out there is going to be extremely angry at me. Because there is this culture in nursing that makes nurses out to be heroes. And anyone who says otherwise is the villain.

For some reason, it is okay for nurses to complain about their life and their job, to be self-sacrificing and a martyr. Because that’s what we have been trained to do. It all starts in nursing school. Students in nursing school complain about being stressed out more than I have ever seen any student’s complain. But I am 100% sure that chemical engineering and physics is harder than nursing, and you don’t see them complaining half as much as nurses do. Because, for some reason, complaining about how hard our job/school/life is seems to be acceptable among nurses. I often hear nurses complain that they have to work long 12-hour days, and the holidays and weekends. Or that they have to kiss their little kids goodbye on Christmas eve to go sacrifice their time as a unappreciated nurse. And I just want to scream. Because yes, working the holidays and weekends sucks. Period. But EVERYONE who works in the hospital with you works that same, sucky schedule. Can we just stop it? We knew what we were getting into!

I often hear people say “I could never be a nurse” and I vehemently disagree. Everyone in college could be a nurse. And if you are a kind-hearted and loving person, you would be a better nurse than many of the people I went to school with. But for some reason, nursing is made out to be this terribly hard, self-sacrificing, terrible field that only an ‘elect few’ could possible endure. 

Give me a break.

Reading the articles written in honor of national nursing day perpetuated this idea that nurses “don’t get the respect and thanks they deserve”. But come on, it is your job. Not your life. Everyone loves things about their job, everyone hates things about their job, and everyone wishes that they were better recognized for their hard work. Let’s not play the victim here.

Also, let’s not glorify the fact that nurses internalize and identify with the needs of their patient’s to the point where you fall asleep crying at night. It is a really unhealthy behavior and leads to secondary trauma. Which is a big problem in nursing. Nurses often empathize and try to help, but you have to separate yourself form the sorrow and grief around you. Because if not, you will burn out too fast and it can honestly affect your psyche. 

But yes, we want to get your IV in the first time. 

And yes, if we don’t answer your call light its not because we want you to suffer. 

We probably are lifting and turning a 300 pound person so they don’t get bed sores. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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