I am sure you might have heard a small ripple in social media over the last 24 hours about the Miss America pageant and Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson, who beautifully gave a monologue about being “just a nurse”. I am also quite sure you may have heard a bigger ripple caused by the ladies on The View for making fun of her and putting down the 3.3 million men and women who call nursing their profession….I am one of them. And I am not “just a nurse”.
I applaud Miss Johnson in coming out on a beauty pageant stage, dressed in scrubs, to talk about her talent. While the ladies on The View might not see this as a talent, being a nurse does take quite a lot of talent. It takes talent to put a urinary catheter in a patient that is combative…to find a vein in a chunky baby….to know what to say to a family that is losing a person close to them. All of these things take talent. And it took bravery for Miss Johnson to say so. You see, we are not just nurses. We are the people who give up weekends, holidays, birthdays, kids events at school and even sleep to be with you when you need us the most. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. We gladly sacrifice these things to do our job. We are the ones who are in your hospital room probably more than you would like and we often come home feeling like we need Silkwood showers to disinfect ourselves. While you ladies on The View are sitting around, drinking coffee, getting paid millions to be on TV with your uneducated viewpoints, nurses are getting paid to get puked on, slip in blood during a trauma, witness things that most people would feel are the horrors of the world, and hold people’s hands while they die so they know they are not alone. I, personally, have never seen your show because I work nights. That is right. While you are sleeping, I am working from 7pm to 7am keeping children alive. Some nights I don’t even have time to go potty, let alone get a cup of coffee, but that is ok by me. Some nights the docs don’t even come on the unit, so guess who is here with all the sick kids? The nurses. Yup. Do you work almost 13 hours only to come back again every day? I think not. Nurses do. Every damn day.
I love being a nurse. Absolutely love it. I salute all people who want to become a nurse. It is the hardest profession you will ever love. You get yelled at, swore at, swung at and even spit on. As for wearing a “doctor’s stethoscope”, well that is a tool of the trade my friends…and not just one doctor’s use. They are used by nurses, respiratory therapists, techs, EMT’s, paramedics and doctors. I don’t know how many doctors I have heard come into the unit and ask to borrow someone’s “ears” meaning the nurse’s stethescope because they don’t have one with them. You might think of scrubs as a “costume” but I can guarantee you that none of us look like the Halloween version of our profession. We are NOT “naughty nurses”. We don’t wear shirts showing our cleavage or high-heeled shoes. These costumes are also insulting to me. We wear scrubs so we can squat down to empty a catheter bag full of urine and so we can sweat our butts off doing chest compressions to save a person’s life. Nursing involves a lot of sweat. Lifting a 300 lb person to turn them is no easy feat. Some nights running to the ED to save a child’s life makes me sweat more than I do when I am working out. Why? Because my adrenaline is pumping, my heart is racing and I am praying I don’t have to hold a parent as their child dies tonight. These are all thoughts that race through my mind as I sweat in my scrubs….my “costume” that keeps me cool as I am just a nurse. And as for wearing high heels…well one night slipping in blood, puke or feces and you would rethinking your choice of footwear rather quickly. TV shows don’t even do our jobs justice. Grey’s Anatomy shows all these doctor’s doing things the in reality nurses do….quit trying to steal our shit! Quit degrading nurses and what they do. We don’t just wipe butts and pass meds. You know how the doctor miraculously shows up when you are having a medical crisis? That is because the NURSE called the doc. For reals. Let’s quit trying to pretend it is the docs at the bedside 24/7 because it isn’t true….so TV land, try to get it right one of these days would ya?
Nurses are amazing people. We keep our emotions in check to do our jobs. You might not know it, but when your child dies and I am their nurse, I hurt too. You might not ever see my tears. They flow usually in the bathroom, my car driving home and most frequently in the shower. Want to know why? Because I need to be there for the family who just lost their child. I need to hold their hands, hug them and help them decide on hard decisions like funeral homes and organ donation. To put down a whole profession of some of the most amazing caring people I have ever known is disgusting. But I am not “just a nurse”. As a PICU nurse, I am a singer (and not always on key) to distract an IV being placed, a comedienne to cheer up a chronically ill child, a counselor to listen to a teenager tell me why they tried to commit suicide, a cheerleader when a patient is able to take a step for the first time on their own after a major trauma, and sometimes a superhero to a 4-year-old because I can hear their “heart beeps” with my stethoscope. These are all of what I am. THIS is what nursing is about. THIS is what nurses do. If this is what you call being “just a nurse”, then I am proud to be just that….a nurse. Fellow nurses, #showmeyourstethoscope! We are nurses…what is your superpower?
So ladies at The View….I challenge you to follow in a nurse’s footsteps for one 12 hour shift and see what it is we really do. I am sure then you could do it too since it isn’t a talent. Oh wait…you need a college degree to do what we do. My bad.
Oh yeah. I didn’t die today. I felt the need to defend my profession but I didn’t die. I am Fat Girl proud to be “just a nurse” Running. The experiment continues…