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Just a Nurse

In the first year of my career as a Registered Nurse I continued my education, wrapping up my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, not yet a requirement to work as an RN, but a well worth it continuation of a degree to make you a more well-rounded, and to be honest, respected Nurse. One of the requirements for this degree was a course called “Professional Issues and Trends”. The course explored the profession of nursing, barriers it is facing, and the way that we, as nurses, can change that. I learned many things in that course, but the most important, the thing that has stuck with me the most was this.

A few days into the course, our Professor made one thing very clear; each and every one of us, from that moment on, needed to remove “Just a Nurse” from our vocabulary.

“Are you a Doctor?”

“No, I’m just a nurse.”

I have spent six years since trying to avoid that phrase. More so, I have worked to avoid that feeling. I work hard at what I do, but am often aware that my friends and family have no concept of what nursing is. I don’t bring you to your room at the doctor’s office, sit you on the table, and check your normal blood pressure, then go and get the Doctor. Instead, I am often in a room with a small child on a ventilator, multiple intravenous medications infusing through central lines keeping the vascular system constricted or dilated. I monitor blood gases and adjust ventilator settings accordingly. If the blood pressure goes too high I adjust the medications related to these values. I keep my patient adequately sedated and paralyzed, for their safety, without over medicating them. It is often my responsibility to determine this balance.

Recently, I had a nearly two year old patient who pulled his own breathing tube out in the early morning. We weren’t sure whether he would do ok without it so I monitored his respiratory status closely all morning. By mid-afternoon he seemed to be doing well enough. By then his sedation had worn off and he had no interest in staying in bed. Concerned that he would harm himself moving around through multiple IV and arterial lines, plus a BiPap machine, and monitor leads, I decided to hold him. He had no family present but needed close to a dozen IV medications over the next five hours. I collected them all and lined them on his bed. I pulled his syringe pump that would be used for the medications off of the IV pole and placed it on the bed in front of me. I lifted him out of bed and onto my lap, into my arms. For five hours we rocked and I held him close. He stared into my eyes, played with my hair with his one arm, tried to suck this thumb through IV sites and arm boards. I gave his medications one by one until the nurse who would relieve me for the oncoming shift came in.

I’m not just a nurse. I am a nurse. I can over the course of the 12 hours shift go from interpreting serial blood gases to comforting a sick child while continuing to monitor vital signs, respiratory status, and administer medications.

I am the eyes, hands, and feet of the physician. I am not their eye candy, or their inferior. I don’t stand up when they enter to room. I don’t follow their orders, I discuss the pathophysiology of the patient’s condition with them and together we make a plan. Often the things I suggest are the course of action we take, other times I learn something new I had not understood from this doctor. They don’t talk down to me, we discuss things together.

I had an experience this weekend, one of the first of its kind for me, and I was surprised by how angry and affected by it I was.

A friend cut their arm and hours later still struggled to stop the bleeding. I assessed the wound and created a pressure dressing out of the supplies you have available in a Frat house cottage. I reluctantly informed the friend that the wound would likely need a stitch, or glue. It wasn’t large, but was deep and wide and would likely heal poorly, if at all, and even if it didn’t become infected, would leave a decent scar. I am not one to jump to big medical interventions, if anything I ride the line of noncompliant and under concerned.

My opinion was shared but another guest, a doctor, decided it would probably be fine with a Bandaid and heal without issues. He may be right, or I may be right. But a close family friend who I have known almost my entire life chimed in,

“No offense Kateri” he said, “But obviously we’re going with the doctor over the nurse for this one.”

“You’re just a nurse” he might as well have said, although he didn’t.

I felt like I had been smacked in the back by a two by four. Another friend present knew this would be my reaction and turned in horror as the color left my face and the posture left my shoulders. Something inside of me sunk.

The following day I struggled to understand why I was still upset. Surely he had no idea what his words had meant, or how they felt. But over lunch the following day, as I discussed my new job with my family, it became clear. My job is so much, and so much of it is misunderstood. And maybe this is no one’s fault but my own. Sure I’m a nurse, yup some days are sad, yeah, blood and poop don’t bother me.

But that’s all I say. I don’t tell you what I really do. And the media definitely doesn’t either. Nurse friends, help me out here. Maybe it’s time that we stop pretending we are less than we are, that we do less than we do.

I came across the following blurb this morning. I wrote it a few years ago for Nurse’s Day, and it rings as true today as it did then. I may not be a doctor, but I am a nurse. And if you are someone whose mind says “just a nurse” please, go ahead and ask the nurse you know best what it is that they do. I think you may be surprised.

I am a Nurse. I didn’t become a nurse because I couldn’t cut it in med school, or failed organic chemistry, but rather because I chose this. I work to maintain my patient’s dignity through intimate moments, difficult long term decisions, and heartbreaking situations. I share in the joy of newly born babies and miraculously cured diseases. I share in the heart break of a child taken too soon, a disease too powerful, a life changed forever. My patient is often an entire family. I assess and advocate. Sometimes I wipe bottoms, often I give meds, but that isn’t the extent of what I do. There are people above me, and people below. I work closely with both, without them, I could not do what I do well. I chose this profession and love almost every minute of it. I know I am not alone and I appreciate all of the nurses who work alongside me. Many of them have shaped me into the nurse I am. Someday I will shape others into the nurse they will be. This wasn’t my plan B, it was my plan A, and I would gladly choose it again.

1,152 thoughts on “Just a Nurse

  1. @strobe
    Just curious, since you are a med student, I’m curious as to your reasoning for being on a nursing related blog since you are obviously against the idea that nursing is important to the med team. is it to crush others spirits? as well I’m done bantering back and forth. All that I’m saying is that Nurses should feel that their job is important and as another Nurse comment, UBC Vancouver dean of medicine said that a Doctor is not the end all be all. I will live my life with a good sense of humanity and a choose to care about others, you live how you want. Just know that sitting on a blog trying to attack other people in a profession that you don’t actually understand (due to the arrogant attitude you have) is sorta sad. Enjoy life.

    1. Exactly! You hit the nail on the head with your observations, and sadly, the folks who misunderstood that this is her personal blog speaking to a specific situation are proving her point.

    2. Jeremy, there appears to be a language barrier (judging by the grammar and sentence structure you use) … I suggest you read this young lady’s thoughts again because she is not attacking anyone … she is instead defending a profession that has long been looked upon as inferior to physicians (not by physicians – tho some of them do think too highly of themselves). My daughter was recently in a horrific motorcycle accident in France and all the bones from her orbital floor down have basically been shattered. She thanks all of those on her medical team … appreciating what each of them (including her nurses who work sooo closely to her) … does for her. She has had 6 surgeries in 2 weeks and is now waiting to get temporary dental plates and then have her nose rebuilt. It’s along grueling process … heartbreaking, and self shattering. As my daughter, even in the worst of states, has observed … each member of the medical staff is equally important although each of their roles is different. That is the point of this article. Please evaluate your feelings of offense … it is unwarranted here.

      1. I have always said that if you want to know the condition of a patient, ask the nurse. I am a nurse, a BSN and have been for 30 years. I have seen the profession go from bedside caring to computer work. I became a nurse to be with the patient, now the only one who gets to be with the patient is the CNA, I am too busy trying to meet JCAH’s reqirements about charting. I retire in 8 months and have decided that I want to be a CNA part-time to do what I started out doing back in 1980, bedside nursing. I am not “just a nurse”. I am the one the family comes to to ask questions, the one who holds the grieving family after a loved one has died, the one the patient calls out for when they are in pain or crying and or need a hug to keep the bad thoughts away, to ward off the fear. I am the one who holds the hand of the NCR and tells them that things are going to get a whole lot better soon and then, holding their hand, watch the life fade from their face as they die and then I go home and want to die because I beat my self up wondering if I could have done something else for them, just a little more to make it easier. I am the one who spends hours looking up stuff to try to be ahead of the game, to be able to help my paitents with all the latest info, to be informed for their sake. Yes, I guess I am just a nurse but if you are really lucky, when you are sick or dying, you will get “just a nurse” to be at your side to defend you from the uncaring and over worked doctors, the bored care co-ordinators, the flustered PT techs and the harried lab techs. Just a nurse will be the one who will gripe because the lab tech could not get you in one stick and will call and demand to get the best up there the next time. Just a nurse will call the doctor to get a better pain med for you when the one he ordered is not effective or to remind him to get you a diet when he has forgotten and you have not eaten in 8 hours. Just a nurse will be the one to tell the xray tech to get a stretcher as your back injury is too painful to go down in a chair, hate for you to make another trip for the stretcher but, on well…….. You better pray that when you are in the hospital, you are lucky enough to get just a nurse for you to fight your battles and when you go home and think your hospital stay that was pretty good, then you can think of that nurse and thank God that you had, on your side, just a nurse.

      2. @sherry williams. Wow, yes, you are just clearly an infallible gift from God. No other profession in health care cares as much or works as hard as nurses. No one else plays a vital role in treating patients. It’s just you wonderful, perfect nurses. We should just get rid of those silly doctors, PAs, RTs, etc who are just incompetent idiots anyways…

        Get real. You are no better than anyone else. I think nurses are starting to give doctors a run for their money when it comes to who has the worse “God complex.”

  2. That was beautiful. It truly brought tears to my eyes. I am in pre-nursing school. The school I am trying to get into only accepts 8 of us every 2 years and last go around I didn’t make the cut, so I began working on the pre-requisites for my bachelors degree. I’ve had people ask me why I keep trying after not getting in, and like you I say because its my “Plan A”. Reading your story helped to remind me why I am doing this. My goal is to earn my bachelors with a minor in public health and become a school nurse. With encouragement from people like you, I know I can continue on my path and become what it is I’m supposed to be… A nurse!

    1. I take a special person to be a nurse these days, with all the cut backs in health care and hospitals trying to reduce cost. The nurses are the ones finding ways to inprovised to meet patient’s needs.

  3. This is wonderful. i am retired Nurse Practitioner who spent her entire adult life in the field of nursing beginning with a three year diploma program, then working in Med Surg, O R, E R, ICCU, Community Health Ed, Geriatric Assessment, and Supervisory work until ending with 20 yrs as a FNP in family practice to be followed by part time NP in a pediatric office (hard to retire). I also spent some time in operations for 6 CHCs and was the Administrator for the same for 3 yrs. I loved my profession as it gave me the opportunity to grow and build on my education and experience.
    I became a nurse in the days when you did stand for Drs and the doctor’s word was law, no questions allowed. In my career my role evolved to become part of the “team” and yes, there were hold-outs but overall I was blessed. I was asked many times “when will you be a doctor” and I told my questioner that I was a nurse and would not be a doctor and explained that in that role I addressed many issues that often get lost in the shuffle in a “doctor” visit. I was never “just a nurse” and I agree that is a pejorative term. Nurses are with their patients when the doctor’s are home in bed or out for the evening. They intimately know the families and the psychosocial aspects of their patient’s care. Nurses go out of their way to solve problems whether it be comforting the sad, getting a snack for the kids or just listening. We are indispensable….and we should NOT forget it.

    1. While I understand where you are coming from, I feel the need to copy and paste section from a post of mine a few posts back:

      “Also, to say things like “the nurse is with the patient when the doctor is at home in bed sleeping” isn’t fair either. Doctors put their hours in, no doubt. I mean, 36 hour shifts? They have to sleep sometime. At least when the nurses do have the chance to sleep they can actually do that with out being interrupted by a phone call.”

      Your attitude of “Nurses are with their patients when the doctor’s are home in bed or out for the evening.” is not going to benefit anyone. I know you want your profession to get the credit it deserves but taking shots at doctors isn’t the right way to do it.

      1. I realize many doctors spend many hours with their patients. The point is that there is “always” a nurse there, 24/7. I have no intention of taking “shots” at anyone, however, nursing ergo nurses are the constant, especially in non teaching hospitals where there are no on site physicians.

      2. @ Jenna G, thanks for always taking the words out of my mouth!! I wish I could respond to even more of these but I’m a little busy taking care of the kids (and everything else) seeing that my husband is on his 100ish hour of work this week and still has the weekend to go. There are a lot of years when Doctors miss dinner with their families every night. The comment about them being home while the Nurses are there didn’t sit well with me either. Just don’t want to hear this week!!

      3. Betty Karen – Then perhaps you should say something more similar to that. Obviously the way you said it was derogatory to doctors, as if they don’t work hard enough or care enough.

        Kay – Thank you!! Always glad to hear when someone shares my opinions. Best wishes for you and your family!

      4. @BettyKaren: while there is “always” a nurse there, it’s never the same nurse, as most nurses work 36 hour shifts. Most doctors work far in excess of that. Also, doctors are the ones with pagers, since even after they go home for the night, that patient is still “their” patient. Nurses do not have that level of responsibility. Additionally, while there may not be a physician on site, it is illegal for that physician to not be available at all. The same cannot be said for nurses – if one nurse does not show up, it’s not the end of the world. When my cardiac surgeon or neurosurgeon colleagues don’t show up at our Level 3 hospital, all hell breaks loose, legally.

      5. I wouldn’t say that she’s “taking shots” at the docs, but instead calling it as it is. Though the role of the physician is vital in directing the patients road to recovery it is undoubtably true that the nurse is the one who spends the most time on an interpersonal level assisting the patient down the road of recovery every step of the way. For the 3-5 minutes the doc may have spent with the patient during their rounds the nurse would have already spent a few hours providing care for that individual, their family and a handful of other patients. If it wasn’t for nurses physicians wouldn’t possibly be able to do their jobs, and vice versa. We work collaboratively as a healthcare team, but the truth is that nurses are the ones who provide the around the clock holistic patient care.

    2. I’m surprised at how many professionals here are taking things so far out of proportion. The point that most are trying to make is that each member of the medical team is equally important … even tho each has a different role … very much like marriage … how easy it is for people to become so defensive instead of really listening and trying to understand what the other is saying. Each role has it’s struggles, long hours, intense responsibilities … but each role is different … so what are all of you debating about? – the fact that the author of this article is simply defending the worth of the nursing profession and the real stigma that exists regarding the lack of value in that role ??? No one is attacking the physicians … but so many of you seem to be attacking the nurses here … ??? I can’t understand it … really. It appears that there’s room for growth here for everyone.

      1. Read through the first few hundred comments, it was basically all from nurses saying that doctors are money-grubbing morons hurr durr who are less qualified at diagnosis and treatment than nurses.

      2. Missed the point again, eh ‘bigC’ .. ? All are equally important, each in their own role … each role has it’s struggles, long hours, intense responsibilities … each role has members that excel or are incompetent … each role deserves acknowledged equal respect … it’s not really difficult … understanding this doesn’t require a math equation or a PhD … it only requires a realistic perspective of one’s self … when a person achieves that, they won’t always feel the need to be defensive. .

      3. THANK YOU! I am a nurse at Mayo and we are piloting a new “Team Based Model of Care” which we hope to implement once the new “Obama Care” plan kicks off hard core. WE ARE ALL A TEAM. One would not work without the other. One is JUST as important as the other. The reason for this blog/post is to help promote the role of the Nurse, which…as stated…is usually considered as “just the nurse”. The negative responses regarding this post are the people who are going to have a very rude awakening VERY soon.

  4. while I applaud your intention you imply that those that don’t have a BSN are less rounded and less respected. I doubt those that work around me have no idea that I am less rounded less a Nurse because I do not have my BSN, the only title required behind your signature is RN all the rest is only there for bragging rights. I have worked with many many Nurses some with less some with more education and with varying degrees and years of experience. It is how you handle yourself that gets respect. It is the knowledge at the bedside and how you apply it that gains respect, trust and quality of care. I think more education is wonderful, it pads the pockets of the education system .
    Some of the best Nurses graduated from diploma programs , these were hospital based and clinical experience was the bulk of the program. I found these Nurses to be the best rounded and respected Nurses I ever worked with. I have and Associates of Applied Science, I am a RN, I have 37 years of experience in many areas of Nursing, from bedside to Clinical Adjunct. I have worked in ICU/CCU, Med-Surg, OB, Nursery, Psych and ER. I have helped in the OR and have been a Manager, Nursing Supervisor and Cardiac Lab Coordinator. I have been an Assessor for Medicaid Home Care , Public Health Nurse and Office RN. I am respected by my colleagues and I think am well rounded. I haven’t done it all, I have yet more to learn but having more initials behind my name will make me neither more respected or well rounded. That is something you earn.

    1. Thanks for the reminder,Jo Ann. As a diploma grad from the Midwest–which was the way to become a nurse in this area in 1980, I think the standard is able to pass a boards test. We all start with level playing field and our learning and experience go on from there. You can’t learn cyanotic from a book. A few challenges to overcome to keep nursing strong. I was hired to hold a hand not a mouse.

  5. You’re definitely not “Just a nurse.” Embracing the great things your profession does is a thing to be admired and respected. You’re an invaluable member of a medical team.

    The one thing I do take issue with above is that you do, indeed, take doctor’s orders. Not that you can’t question them or learn from them, but when it comes down to it the attending physician is the boss and you do as ordered or have a damn good reason to not do so. As much as we value nurse’s opinions, taking orders from the person with ultimate responsibility for the patient is part of your job.

    1. I agree with you 100% and my statement was grossly misinterpreted by many, which is my fault for wording it in such a way. I meant it to imply that physicians do not order me around. I do on the other hand follow orders, willingly, but am often involved in the process of establishing those orders. Not always, often.
      Thanks for your comment!

      1. I am an MD…and I think I understand what you re trying to say and I definitely applaud your enthusiasm for the field, I love working with enthusiastic people and some of the nurses I work with are really fun… but trust me (from your story above you re new to the field) you are NOT “OFTEN” involved with making orders… you re opinions are considered and a really experienced nurse (10-15+) years opinions are considered even more so.. but to basically say the doctors follow what you say or your experience/training is equal to theirs is inaccurate.. and honestly to all those gung-ho NPs out there… you are NOT Drs.. and Drs do not consider you at their level of training…as much as you may think your 1/2 internet and 1/2 weekend NP school was valuable.. a good 4th year medical student is more reliable than most NPs I ve met.

    2. I’m a nurse myself and questioned a rather dangerous order of infusing too much fluid in a gentleman with a boggy heart. Another nurse assumed care of the patient, continued the aggressive hydration, and unfortunately, the patient was tubed, sent to the ICU and passed away 24 hours later. I am still a healer and function similarly to a physician…they call me “physician extender” and “mid level provider,” but I still draw on my nursing skills to help me heal and cure illness. I work with other nurses and physicians alike to collaborate and deliver a plan of care that was collaboratively made to help the patient. Yes, I understand the responsibility, yes I understand the pressure, but remember, we are just “not just a nurse” or “a medical physician” or “nurse practitioner” or “certified registered nurse anesthetist.” We are health care providers, we are health care professionals, we are clinicians, cut from different cloths, with goals and drives to help our patients.

      1. I dont know the details of your pt.. but there are situations where you give large amounts of fluids to patients with very bad hearts, even if it leads to pulm edema… you gotta weigh the pros and cons..I some what doubt that too much fluids killed the patient..

    3. Maybe you have never worked in a teaching hospital? At night, the nurses generally give verbal orders to the R1s (those humble enough to know who knows what), and the R1s dutifully write them out, and take credit for them. I’d say %10 of the orders I get that aren’t obtained this way at the level one trauma center I work at are inappropriate, redundant, possibly unsafe, or straight-up extremely dangerous. And as an RN, I am not part of a ‘medical team.’ I am part of a care team; one in which the doctor is sometimes the most important part, although always the most self-important part.

      1. I am a R1 and I have NEVER seen a nurse “give a Dr an order”.. maybe recommendations, which are always welcomed and considered and trust me we have a lot of respect for experienced nurses… but to say a Nurse “giving” a Resident an order is silly.. your perception of the situation must be a bit warped… and there is no “credit” for anything, trust me.. there are no brownie points or scores… its just trying to get your work done in a stressful environment and maybe enjoy a few moments with your co-workers (nurses and doctors a like)

    4. And I’m sorry MD your days of playing ‘god’ are over. I’m suprised you haven’t noticed! If you are early in your career I suggest you make some friends pretty quickly. And not those who would support your blundering mistakes lightly. Maybe you should either: A think of retiring or B giving up your profession early. Cheers

      1. No one is playing God… but it is the nurses job to take orders from a physician… they re literally legally termed orders.. not Drs suggestions or Drs hopes or Drs wishlist… IMO people should stick to their jobs, if a nurse pretends to be a doctor one day it ll catch up with them… just like if a med student pretends to be a doctor (ie not discuss things with their residents,team, attending) it wont be long before they get in some trouble… or a PCP “pretends” to be a cardiologist or a surgeon pretends to be an ICU doc… and so forth

    5. Yes…It would be damn smart to question some doctor’s orders. Especially when I doctor wants to start a cardizem drip on a patient, will not transfer them to a telemetry unit, and says to start them on the drip without a monitor. Boss? I think not…we are not hired by the doctor, but the hospital and ultimately the patient is our client.

    1. I’m an MD, and this is BS for many reasons. If you really want to argue “final say”, it would be MD/DO > NP/PA/CRNA > RN, without PharmD anywhere on this list. Also, while MD does get final say over RT, I’ve never met a doc who would contradict the RT recommendations.

      1. As an RN, I would have to agree with RTs being the final word in every respiratory code I’ve ever been to at this level 1 trauma center. We all have our rolls to play. Until we can stop conceptualizing them as hierarchies expressed by math symbols, we’ll never truly function as a team. Everyone looses. I think it is telling that Doctors are the only profession in the US (the world?) who’s members insist on a title which linguistically elevates them in every communication with every other person, be they a pt. or care-team member. It makes me laugh inside and want to pat doctors on the head and give them a lollipop and a “that a boy” whenever they insist on this little power-play. Ego is such a big part of medicine, and learning to ‘act like expert’ appears to me to be one of the quickest and most destructive lessons residents learn from their superiors at teaching hospitals. If we could all be honest with ourselves and each other about our limits, I think we’d all be the better for it.

      2. well said, JO. Although, it is never a good idea to generalize. There are some smart, savvy physicians just as there are some moronic, sarcastic nurses. The team is best when both are recognized and the former is celebrated and the latter isolated.

      3. Wow Jo… you re really have a thing against residents dont you… I can very confidently say that any resident that is 6 months into their residency will know more than the most experienced nurse.. its nothing personal, it just comes down to training.. we spend 4 years in med school ( 2 of those years being fulltime in clinical settings with schedules similar to residents) and then 3 to 6+ years pulling 36 hour shifts…

      4. I ve done many many months in the ICU and I plan to apply to Pulm/CC fellowship next year… and I pretty much have respect for everyone in the hospital (nurses, RTs, phlebotomists, xray techs, plebotomists… whatever, I just try to have fun, IMO we re all like a family away from home) but I ve seen plenty of RTs make mistakes.. yes they can trouble shoot the vent machine better than anyone and yes its their job to keep a constant eye on the patients they are assigned to but their actual knowledge of disease process’s and treatment is limited (which is not in anyway their fault, its not their job to know the details of disease processes and clinical decisions outside of the vent and nebs)…

        Reminds me of my ICU rotation when the respiratory tech comes in (was in the ED) and tells me the asthma exacerbation patients blood gases where improved and the patient was doing good and no longer alkalotic… I ll let you guys go review your physio but normal blood gas’s in a acute asthma exacerbation is not a good thing… the patient was transfered to ICU soon

    2. I have a PhD in higher mathematics and physics from Cambridge – I do not understand this equation, can you enlighten me please?

      1. Wow, I can’t believe how heated this blog has gotten! Here’s the fact and everyone needs to put their arrogance aside in regards to their profession. We couldn’t do our job if it was not for eachother. The MD needs the RN, and the RN needs the MD. It is impossibly for one person to do everything and their is the proof that no one is better than anyone else. We are all just as equally needed, and regardless of what degree you have we are qualified. We may not always get along and may at times doubt eachother but such is life and the dynamic of the healthcare profession. Put on you big boy slacks and carry on!

  6. I am an RN, and Mr. MD’s opinion of not including the PharmD, “final say” is misleading and a bit scary! MD’s will often write drugs and dosages that do not make policy sense. So it comes down to the RN & esp the PHARMD to notify and educate the MD of their mistake, w/o calling it that. Yes… the, “final say” comes done to the written orders by the MD, but w/o these educated and on hands professionals, health care becomes… naught!

    1. So in your hospital the PharmD’s give orders to the RNs? Because that’s what the poster I was responding to said, and I said no, PharmDs do not figure into the chain of orders at all. Yes, their consultation is useful, but no, they don’t give orders to anyone.

      1. That’s not what I was saying at all. To get accepted into the medical school I attend we had to have some reading comprehension skills; where did you go again?

    2. I am an MD.. and I d have to say PharmDs are very valuable assets to any team.. and I ve learned a lot of clinical pharm from working with them…

  7. As a pediatric resident the only phrase I hate more than “just a nurse” is “just a parent.” I cannot thank the nurses that I work with enough for all of their guidance, hard work and of course for everything they have taught me. I will also say that my nights spent chatting and joking at the nurses station are among the best memories I have. Anyone doctor who fails to recognize the work of their nursing colleagues does a grave disservice to their patients.

    As a healthcare team we have to work together with our patients and their families, to deliver the highest quality healthcare.

    Thanks for all you do.

  8. You Rock! I remember someone asking me if I didn’t have enough self-confidence to be “the real thing” and go to medical school. I am the Director of Nursing at a community mental health center, and in the course of a week I mine data to justify our Medicaid funding, chase down birth parents of foster children to get permission for meds to be given at school, coordinate with medical specialists from endocrinologists to orthopedists, explain dialysis to group home staff and bed bugs to assisted living staff, seek parole placements for end-of-life care for people with serious criminal histories, visit those denied parole on their prison death-beds, write policies and procedures, train nursing and case management staff, sign time sheets, propose grants to improve the nutrition of our chronically food insecure clients…
    Just a nurse, huh? Nurses are the luckiest people in the world. We touch people’s lives.

  9. My aunt is a nurse practitioner and I trust her completely, as much as any doctor. In fact, my family asked her advice about my grandmother’s health AFTER speaking with a doctor. So don’t worry, there are people out there that have plenty of respect for nurses. I do anyway.

    1. Trust me… in a life or death situation.. you ll go with the docs decisions..yes you re NP aunt can provide some further explanation and maybe answer some more questions.. but the training between the two is very different..

      Honestly I have a lot of respect for nurses… but 90% of NPs i ve met and worked with really dont know their stuff as well as they like to think so… and trust me docs dont respect NPs as their equals academically/experience wise.

      My aunt (who is like a 2nd mother to me) is an NP and even when her family members get sick she takes them to a doctor, not one of her NP colleages..

      1. Tim, we get it. You’re an MD. Good for you! Get a life and stop posting your “medical” opinion on everything. Don’t you have patients to take care of since you’re a very important doctor, or shouldn’t you be sleeping since you pull 48+ shifts instead of responding to every comment that is posted??? Stop putting your two cents in on anything anyone says, you’re probably not even a doctor.

      2. As an RN with over 20 years of experience, I will tell you right now, I MUCH prefer my NP over any MD that I have seen in the past. I will take her any day of the week and twice on Sunday than anyone with an MD behind their name. I will also address your little comment earlier that an intern with 6 months experience knows more than the most experienced nurse- I have worked with quite a few attendings who would disagree with you.

      3. “As an RN with over 20 years of experience, I will tell you right now, I MUCH prefer my NP over any MD that I have seen in the past. I will take her any day of the week and twice on Sunday than anyone with an MD behind their name…

        … I have worked with quite a few attendings who would disagree with you.”

        Wow – for someone with such an absolute disdain for MD’s, I’m surprised you are even referencing the opinions of attendings…

      4. Tim is an idiot and as a resident with 6 months training, I’d say you are ridiculous for saying you’re smarter and wiser than the most experienced nurses! That ego I’m sure has already killed a few patients! Experienced nurses are not idiots and often save residents asses because they don’t know their head from their ass! You need to be a little more humble or you will not go anywhere and will never be respected as an MD and healthcare professional!

      5. As a patient that was very, very ill, there was a resident that was so dumb and caused me so much unnecessary pain that I would to this day, 20 years later, throttle him if I could. He was so detested that the nurses referred to him as Big Bird.

  10. I hope that you are not one of the many RN’s that treats Surgical Technologists, RRT’s, Ortho Techs, Lab techs, etc. in the same manner you have described. In my world- the ONLY people patients think are treating them are Dr’s and Rn’s. All other professions are invisible.

    1. Well said, G! So many nurses yearn for respect, but in turn they do not give it to those who are not “one of them” or a physician. Medical hierarchies are often subjective and vary depending on a person’s profession (and inherently where they perceive themselves on it).
      I just sincerely hope that certain stigmas will dissipate over time. I support that nurses aren’t “just nurses” but neither are the (just) Surgical Techs, RRTs, Rad Techs, or other clinicians.

    2. I m an MD and I respect everyone… I just try to have a good time at work and i try to have fun with everyone I work with.. lifes too short

      1. I don’t think its possible for you, Tim, to have fun unless you’re on your golden throne sitting high above, almighty douche bag!

  11. Kateri, I think you did a great job communicating that nurses are an important part of pt care and that many people misunderstand what exactly it is we do. It feels great to know other nurses feel the same and also to hear from someone who is truly passionate about their profession and the well being of their pts and family. I think at times the job is so frustrating and arduous physically and emotionally, that it is easy to forget WHY you do it in the first place. Being reminded and appreciated or recognized for the amount and level of care a nurse provides is just what we need sometimes. As for the horrible comments I have been reading I say this…the medical field is poisoned with Ego. Kateri is NOT saying that if you do not have your BSN, that YOU PERSONALLY are less respected than someone who does. You most likely are a great and smart efficient nurse. She simply makes the point that the more letters you have behind your name, the more respected as a professional you will be. That is true whether you like it or not so get real. Secondly…no where in the article is she putting down a physician and their profession. Stop splitting hairs people! Do nurses spend more time with the pts and their family? YES. Do nurses constantly make suggestions to Docs for improving or changing parts of the pt meds or care? YES. In fact doctors often appreciate it bc they can’t be there ALL the time bc yes, they work long hours and have many pts etc. The point being made is that we as nurses are an intricate part of pt care AS WELL and the field is not well understood by people who aren’t in the medical field. Kateri is not saying nurses are the only one involved in the care if pts either. Those in the medical field know it is a TEAM EFFORT from many different disciplines such as RTs and rehab and infection control and nutritionists and many others who get consulted and involved with pt care. Lastly, this is a BLOG and Kateri is simply expressing her feelings on being a nurse and how it has affected her as a person. It’s subjective!!! Your experiences may be very different. So share them instead of attacking someone for sharing theirs. So with that said @BigC you need to get off your high horse and realize this article was not aimed for you or your experiences bc you are not a nurse! You can not fully relate. And you need to realize that facilities differ in practice and again, people are talking in here from their own experiences. Thanks for the great Blog Kateri!

  12. You almost lost me with you statement that a BSN made you more respected. Having dealt with many RN’s and LPN’s in my day, saying you are more respected is way off mark and denigrates your sisters and brothers who are licensed and as qualified as you. That being said, I agree with the rest of your essay.

  13. Thank you for writing the blog. I too have been an RN in critical care, burn unit, ICU/CCU, open heart unit, & ER for over 10 years… every person working in the hospital worked as part of team to ensure the best care and health and wellness for each patient` I was never just a nurse…I was part of the team…took time off to raise my family…continued to read medical journals and keep up over the years because I’ve loved my career and have always had an interest in health and wellness, I happily choose to volunteer after being trained in pastoral ministry for 8 years@ at leading cancer institute to spiritually minister to the sick and dying, I still maintain that position and am now even as a volunteer, part of the interdisciplinary team to help each patient Holistically in mind, body and spirit as they are facing their mortality… In addition to that I recently went back to school at 56years old to become a Holistic Health Coach and I now teach a 12 week healthy eating class to help others keep disease at bay…I’ve always believed in myself and so have the many others who would call or come to my door at all times of the day or night with medical issues or problems…so I need to just share my pet peace…although I am an RN…many people will say…”she used to be a nurse” nothing irritates me more…I am a Nurse ! You would never say that about a doctor after he stops working…once a doctor always a doctor….same with a nurse…once a nurse always a nurse… My license is still current..I work with people who are in need of health and wellness.. I am a nurse and will always be !

  14. I see there is still a pityfull discusion going on about who is the clever one. Now let me “read’ to you a important part of this fabulous blog again:
    I am the eyes, hands, and feet of the physician.
    I am not their eye candy or their inferior.
    I don’t stand up when they enter to room.
    I don’t follow their orders, I discuss the pathophysiology of the patient’s condition with them, and together we make a plan.
    Often the things I suggest are the course of action we take and other times I learn something new I had not understood from this doctor.
    They don’t talk down to me; we discuss things together.

    Everybody should be able to agree on that. And if not please let me know! I copied this blog on my own web page because I think it is important Dutch nurses read this as well There will be a translation soon, Please forgive me for not asking your permission beforehand, if you disagree just let me know and I’ll remove it.

    http://gavimensch.blogspot.nl/2013/09/gastcolumn-kateri-dont-call-me-just.html

    Thank you very much Kateri. 😉

  15. I came to this through a friend who is a nurse, and I want to say that anyone who thinks a nurse is “just a nurse” has no clue what they are talking about.

    My husband has made many a trip to the hospital, and most of the time the doctors are one step away from incompetent. The nurses know what meds help him, they know that they can’t just kick him out as soon as he says he feels better because he’ll just be back in two hours. They listen to me, because I have dealt with his condition our whole marriage. The doctors just come in often no knowing anything about him, me, or his condition, and make judgement calls that don’t work. They think they know everything and then go back to trying to flirt with and impress the nurses who are disinterested in doing anything other than their job.

    The nurses are the key to the health care system. I’ll take a nurse over a doctor any day. Every time.

  16. I am a nurse. I often describe myself as a lowly little LVN because that is how the medical profession sees me. Yes, including other nurses. I chose nursing, and to be an LVN to not only have a fulfilling job that would carry me through life, but feed my family. You see, I came to nursing at age 40 after watching my husband suffer for 15 months and then die of pancreatic cancer. I was his patient advocate, learned to do his sterile dressing changes, flush his IVs and monitor the lines and his morphine levels. By the time he passed I could do almost all of his care.
    Our kids were teenagers when returned school and my job was to ssucceed, to graduate with honors and get a job so we could stop receiving assistance from family and the Church. I did it! And I was proud, my kids were proud, my family and friends.
    After passing the State boards Instead of doing the hospital work and patient care thaI love I got a job in industrial health & loved that too. It was like running a one woman ER with everything from band aids to MIs and drug screens and hearing conservation testing and training. During that time all of the hospital LVNs were told we didn’t count & were no longer needed. Now our work is either shifted to an overworked RN, or to a medical assistant working daily out of her scope of practice and with only 6 weeks of training in taking vitals, bathing & changing beds. They are also expected to do the work of the hospital domestic staff as they have been reduced tooI was blessed to have 10 years before some corporatgenius decided that all of the nurses could be outsourced and I was downsize.
    Again I was blessed. I am now a nurse case manager working in the insurance field. Today I took care odold the following injuries, helping to plan their care, assist them to return to work, offered a shoulder to cry on, and authorized treatment for: multiple spine injuries from an MVA, knee osteoarthritis, flat feet, shoulder tears, carpal tunnel syndrome, 3 post-op knees, a possible total knee replacement, finger/tendon laceration/amputation, and a cold that was making his post hernia repair miserable.
    I am a nurse, and a damned good on. I take great pride in what I do. I work closely with other nurses and the physicians who treat my patients and help them and their families move on after some devastating injuries. I love what I do. everyday is a challenge, and you never know what the next injury will be.
    And it doesn’t hurt that I now make 7x more than I did when I started & that was what my fellow grads were looking to make in 5 years, and 100% more than my top salary when I was laid-off. the money is nice, but the compensations are when the patient you have been helping for 2 1/2 years calls crying because they are so happy that they made it through their first full day without pain, and are now fully functional again. Yes, there are deaths we cry over ourselves, because our patients become friends.
    I wouldn’t trade a minute of it because – I am a nurse.

  17. I do wish the general public had a better understanding of what we do. We are not brainless caregivers who just follow doctors orders. In the ICU I work in, it is a team effort. The physicians are there but a moment compared to the time we spend with our patients (which do include family who we explain and educate and listen to). We see the whole picture, the critical or subtle changes, the needs, the results or lack of such in treatment, with experience, knowledge and intuition we are often the ones who alert the physician with the above. We multitask to not miss a trick, to check those lab, test results promptly and report as needed. We have lists of questions, requests daily for physicians to consider. Patients and families with a wide range of ability to understand and cope look to us to help – with answers, listening, comfort for mental and physical needs. We adjust with whatever comes up in our shift, nothing is routine. We don’t put a sign up like at a check out lane that says “closed” when we need to eat. Outside of work, we also have accountability to keep updated with the latest evidence,treatment and best practice standards, with regulations and maintaining knowledge of pathology, physiology, medications.
    I am rewarded in giving all this care by the experience of helping people with the best I can give in spite of outcomes, at times when they need help the most: physically and mentally.

    1. I am a MD and I really liked your post.. I m actually applying to Pulm/CC fellowships very soon. A good ICU nurse is a really valuable asset to an ICU team

      1. Tim, I am concerned that your arrogance will catch up with you all too soon. Your perceived inability to accept that medicine is a TEAM sport concerns me in the fact that I may one day have to work with you, or worse have to be one of your patients.
        The TEAM cannot make decisions without the data collected by the nursing staff or the ancillary staff. The TEAM cannot function without a team captain. A good team captain listens to the team before collectively making decisions.
        The best physician team members I have had the privilege to work with were humble enough to know their own limitations. (Please note that I say “with” and not “for”.) I fear you are not yet at that point. My greatest fear is that you will learn this lesson at the cost of a patient’s life. I hope this will not be the case.
        I encourage to you look at the TEAM and not at a handful of the members. You have potential, as I believe all team members do, but I believe you have a ways to go yet.
        Please don’t disappoint me by responding to this post like you have to others by attacking grammar and the like. I ask that if you reply that you do so out of respect.

      2. When did I ever attack anyones grammer or spelling.. infact I find it so annoying when people choose to attack someones grammer rather than address the matter…

        What did I say that got you so boiling… that nurses are not a residents superior… its true believe it or not. When was the last time you saw a resident “report” to a nurse? “Jo” lives in some sort of warped reality where she think reporting vitals and how the patient is feeling means shes giving the resident “night orders”?? I never said that everyone didnt work as a team.. of course the nurses are the “eyes and ears” of a doctor as someone else put it, its their job to stick at the bedside of their 2-4 patients while the doctor rounds on his/her 20-40 patients in all different parts of the hospital all the while managing updates given to them by nurses and other doctors and coordinating the multitude of logistics and paperwork it takes to get anything done in a hospital. Of course every doctor appreciates a good insightful nurse that goes beyond her duties and maybe give the doctor some information that they might know about the patient since they ve had more contact with the patient than does the doctor; and of course all patients love a sweet nurse that actually cares about her patients and makes their stressful stay all that much better.

      3. Calm down Penny, what the hell?? Ehy are you attacking Tim? He hasn’t said anything outrageous to make you so damn defensive! I don’t understand where your vitriol is coming from. Your baseless attacks make these comments hard to read. Knock it off and move on with your life. (ps I’m an RN too, so don’t even go there)

      4. O and by the way when I said in reply to Jo’s comment (how she commented that nurses are considered a resident’s, who is fully fledged doctor with a diploma, superiors)……….that a nurse is not a resident or any doctors superior.. I would also like to say that a resident is not a nurses superior in the same light. They work as team but are not directly responsible for eachother or held accountable by eachother… now the charge nurse I would say is the nurses superior and the attending physician is the residents superior and neither of the charge nurse or the attending are each others superior… different fields….I just take major issue with a lot of “Jo”‘s comments..

  18. Whoops, what a shame Kateri’s lovely blog has turned into a right old slanging match. Personally I feel ‘Marie Curie’ below has overstepped the mark. Please do not take nursing or it’s reperesentatives’ names in vain. I just hope I never meet the new incarnation of Marie Curie in my lifetime! Hail all good nurses and all our wonderful colleagues. Very kind regards to you all from Somerset, England.

  19. I just can’t believe it. Do people like ‘Big C’ still practice in this day and age? Do his colleagues tolerate him with that attitude/? (Yes they are here in England too but a dying breed). Is this a new generation of those that think they are somehow superior – education maybe, money perhaps? Thought those daze were over but clearly not in the great USofA.

  20. Dear Kateri, just a line to say “thank you” to you – I am a patient. Four years ago I had a four unit blood transfusion. This occured through the watches of the night – I had a lovely nurse who cared for me, and my various needs all through that night – she saved my life – I was, and remain, extraordinarily grateful to that lady, the hospital as a whole, and the people who donated the blood – I feel so privileged to have been on the receiving end of such competent loving kindness. I read you blog with interest, and if I may, I express my profound gratitude to you, and my lovely nurse, and all the amazing, trained people who worked so hard to help me, and so many others – with all my heart – bless you and thank you :0) sincerely, Jacqui xx

  21. I love and respect nurses for all that they do! I always tell people, when you are in crisis in the hospital the first person to respond is a nurse. When you are dying it will be a nurse that is sitting with you and holding your hand. Unless you have been extremely ill, or a loved one has, it is hard to appreciate the extremely high levels of training they have. Their compassion reaches out to their patients and beyond to the families , too. I have been extremely ill and I know first hand what they do. I also sat for 5 days by the bedside of an 18 mo. old while the medical staff went through all the necessary protocols before they would declare him brain dead. The nurses that kept his little body comfortable and alive were skilled angels on this earth. There are no other words for it. May all nurses be blessed for what they do day after day to bring health and comfort and loving connection to the people in their care.

  22. Becoming a nurse is an absolute privilege. I look forward to soon joining the ranks of such a prestigious, incredible profession, as my upcoming graduation will take place October 2013. As nurses, we have the ability to heal a wounded heart, comfort teary eyes, and encourage to conquer the greatest of all battles. We act based on in-depth knowledge of the pathophysiology of diseases, pharmacology of drugs, and the utilization of evidence-based practices… all while simultaneously intertwining the care for the human soul. I take nothing away from our profession.
    I believe the role of the nurse is greatly misunderstood. In attempts to compensate for the deficit in public knowledge, I see an alarming event occurring. In the nursing media online, I often see nurses belittle the role of the physician. I have seen the same trend throughout my career as a student nurse, through my professors and the nurses I am privileged to precept in the hospital. Rather than praising our profession and educating misunderstandings, I feel that as a profession, we tend to attempt to raise ourselves up at the cost of the physician. I believe the true strength in healthcare does not exist in any one profession. The thing that makes healthcare as powerful, effective, and efficient as it is results from a collaborative team approach.
    We are a team. We work together. We are not elevating our profession by putting down another. The exact opposite occurs, our team takes a direct hit. In the future, when a patient questions the physician I will absolutely advocate for my patient, but I will also support my teammate/team leader. At no point in time will I belittle the decision from the physician, and I hope the physician will pay me the same respect. In order to receive respect from others, you must first respect them. Nurses have privileges physicians do not have, yet we tend to gloat and belittle physicians for the gifts in which we are blessed to have.
    As nurses, we have the absolute privilege of taking care of patients and spending more time with them. Why attack the physician for not being able to spend the day with the patient? It is akin to eating a delicious hamburger (low fat, low sodium, whole grain buns, with sweet potato fries instead of regular, of course!) in front of someone who is hungry, and then bragging to someone who does not have food about how delicious the meal tasted. We are blessed.
    As a profession, we are strong and incredible, as are the physicians and the entire healthcare team. I plead we remain humble in our actions and in our words. Never forget the privilege we are awarded when we are allowed to take care of a patient. The patients put their lives, their trust, and their hopes in our hands – what are we to them but mere strangers?

  23. I think the cache version isn´t available any more… such a pity home care
    servIce in our socity.
    was really looking forward to read it, I just founded this today…
    I´ve been obssesing about this series…haha

  24. I am a nurse in Australia, an Endorsed Enrolled Nurse to be specific; the US equivalent is an LPN I think.
    And yes, I have every intention of going to University and completing my Bachelor of Nursing degree.

    As an EEN in Australia, in NSW, in the hospital and ward in which I work, not a lot of what I do is “limited”. I work with some brilliant people (doctors included) and on many levels they do not see me as “just a nurse” or “just an EEN” for that matter. I agree that on a ward, nurses are the eyes and ears of the medical team. On my ward, the team do their rounds, spend an average of five minutes with each patient and then leave (to do work elsewhere obviously, I know they’re busy). Nurses are the only team that see their patients 24/7 and for that reason alone, our doctors listen to us. That is a fact THEY have identified.

    As for nurses “ordering” things (fluids, meds, etc.), as far as I know, Advanced Care Nurses or Nurse Practitioners have this (I want to avoid the word “power”) qualification, albeit limited to a degree (although in rural areas, Practitioners are heavily relied on in lieu of doctors as there is a shortage). So doctors do occasionally come across nurses who will consult them about an order and suggest they change it to something more suitable for that specific patient and many doctors oblige. Even as an EEN, I have formed relationships with doctors to the point where they ask for my opinion or my help. They care about what it is I have to say because I know their patient more intimately then they do. Interns especially can be quite reliant on their relationship with a nurse. Many interns are hesitant to question their Registrar/RMO or consultant and while we encourage them to do so, we happily provide them the support they need and advice they seek whether it be for charting medications or what their next course of action should be (but like I said, we still encourage them to run that by the rest of their team).

    One patient, a 94 year old man with heart failure at risk of fluid overload, pulmonary oedema, pleural effusion and aspiration pneumonia had been NBM for 2 days while the doctors and speech pathologists argued on the best course of action. Meanwhile this man was not being hydrated via slow IVFs as the intern and RMO where concerned about fluid overload (fair call) but this man was consistently hypotensive and dry as a chip. My RN in charge (I/C) kept pushing for slow IVFs but the doctors refused. She kept reassuring them that she could see their concern and understood that there were many factors to consider but this was a Friday afternoon and if these two doctors didn’t come up with a plan, the covering weekend resident would not take action until the team returned on Monday. In the end, the team contacted their consultant (the big cheese) who was actually annoyed that they hadn’t started IVFs considering the current situation (this man was also NFR and I guess the consultant didn’t care if he did become overloaded because then they would probably palliate). Eventually the man was charted 1L of N/Saline and 1L 4%Dex+1/5 N/Saline at 40mls/hr to cover him for the weekend. The consultant documented that nursing staff may titrate the flow to 20mls/hr TKVO (to keep vein open – the man was still having IVABs) or stop fluids should they become concerned. He further documented that should we stop fluids, to place a subcut set and commence subcut fluids to prepare for palliative action.

    The consultant gave us appropriate leeway to make our own call because he knew that he would be unavailable over the weekend and that the nursing staff would be closely monitoring this patient during that time. I considered that an awesome gesture because often we’ve had doctors who wait and make no plans for the weekend, often to the detriment of the patient.

    Respect cuts both ways. I respect doctors for what they do and I know doctors who respect nurses for what we do. That’s not to say there are doctors out there that I disrespect, not because they’re a doctor but because they may be an asshole but when it comes to work, I quickly put that aside.

    Dr. Cooper of Nurse Jackie fame is easily a perfect example of an arrogant doctor but somehow, he’s still my favourite character on that show 🙂

  25. I understand your point. But could have done without the comment about rooming patients. I am an LPN, and I room patients all day. I am also the one the Doctor asks about my observations re: our patients. Many times the patient tells me things, they won’t or forget to tell the patient. I give treatments and assist in surgical procedures We are important, but your comment made me feel “I am just an LPN”. We fight that enough in our field, that we are not important compared to RN’s, without RN’s contributing to it.

    1. Lisa, I’m sorry you took offense but you actually just proved my point. You don’t just room patients all day. You said yourself that your job is more than that. Nothing I said implied rooming patients is a bad thing, simply that the role involved more than that.

      1. Currently I am a RN/ office manager in a Family Practice. I have worked Med/Surg, Internal Medicine, Home Care, Rehab, Case management and ‘only’ have my Associates. The work that I have been doing over the last 18 yrs has made me well-rounded, not the number of letters after my name. ” i work hard at
        what I do, but am often aware that my friends and family have no concept of what nursing is.” – i agree, but i also sometimes feel that other nurses don’t understand the important role of ALL the levels of nursing. “I don’t bring you to your room at the doctor’s office, sit you on the table, and check your normal blood pressure, then go and get the Doctor.”- I do do that- granted the BP might not be normal, but you assess the patient pretty thoroughly and often are able to spend more time than the doctors are able to in the room. Family Practice nursing is taking on the entire patient, and their family- their histories, their family dynamics, support system, meds, home environment, financial status, coordinating specialist referrals, reviewing labs, everything- to keep them from needing to be in the ER, hospital or other higher level of care. I have chosen family practice- I enjoy seeing entire families, taking care of several generations even, and sharing joy, sorrow, homemade cookies and jam, the kindergartner who is now graduating, fresh eggs, first time parents, marriages, divorces, end of life discussions, getting holiday cards from them. Seeing them year after year, remembering them and they remember that your ‘anniversary is coming up isn’t it??’ I love working in a practice where the Doctors respect your knowledge base, call you in the room for your opinion on an issue, where they still make house calls, where I can still make a house call for a shot, or lab draw, or see what’s causing the setbacks they keep having. Where your Doctors teach you when you ask to learn, as well as learn from you. The path that nurses and doctors follow to get to their goals is indeed a different mentality, not necessarily better or worse. At the end of your path it’s the quality of what you have chosen to become and your appreciation for what every level has to bring to your patient, that counts, not the length of your title.
        We all know that there are not enough PCP’s out there, and nurses at any and all levels have been appreciated by me at some point in my career, and will continue to be.

      2. Thanks for your comment robin. My statement was grossly misunderstood by many. I meant that even the nurses in those situations, the ones rooming a patient and obtaining vitals in an outpatients setting aren’t doing just that. They do more than that, which is clear by the list you gave.

  26. Tim, can you PLEASE stop asserting to everyone that you’re an MD??? I seriously feel bad for all your patients at how arrogant a doctor they will be getting…coming from a pre-nursing student by the way.

  27. I have many nurses and one paramedic in the family… and I have one RN who works for me in my current job. The number of times I have seen a nurse pull a doctor aside to correct something – and had the doctor acquiesce – has more than convinced me that there is no such thing as “just a nurse.”

  28. I want to thank you for your powerful post about the meaning and importance of a nurse. As a nurse of almost 2 years, I often feel degraded by doctors, patients, friends, and family. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked if I’m training to be a doctor! Being upset with my salary, which is barely more than my pre-nursing salary, I’ve often considered going to medical school or at least nurse practitioner school. Your post, however, makes me proud of my profession. Like you, nursing was my plan A, not plan B. I chose it because I love people and love spending an intimate one-on-one 12 hours with my patients. I love every moment of my job! Thanks for your encouraging blog!

  29. @Julius. I am neither a physician or a nurse. I am a communications major who studied how the media informs the public of who and what a nurse is. My research was revealing not disingenuous. Apparently, that makes you so uncomfortable that you would come here to discredit honest accounts from nurses perspectives and from an outsider’s unbiased research. Thanks for the fodder.

  30. I just have to tell you that my friend sent this to me through a text – and I hadn’t read this all the way through until just now. She and I are both going through nursing school, and are struggling through school as you know always happens. But you so eloquently described how much of a struggle it truly is for people to understand the care nurses provide and make me push that much more to continue my education. Whether people understand or not, I and fellow nurses do, and thats all that matters to me because people like you take such pride in doing anything and everything in the field. I just thought I should let you know that this truly inspired me and I will be sharing it with my classmates.

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