Before I begin I want to inform you, my readers, that today’s post will not follow my typical format. Posts from the past and moving forward will have slightly more depth, reflection, and substance, but for today, given the overwhelming response to my “Just a Nurse” post…
Allow me to take some time to introduce myself and clarify a few things.
First, my name is Kateri. I woke in the middle of the night recently suddenly aware that at least half of you are likely saying or thinking my name incorrectly. Or at least i should say differently than I do. I am Kateri, pronounced like catering, but with a K, without the food, and no “NG” (nurse joke. Get it?) but you can call me Kate, if you prefer.
I am from upstate New York originally. Like pretty far up there. I am as happy shooting a shotgun in blue jeans as I am in heels and a dress. By happy I mean pretty significantly happy by the way. Contrary to some assumptions I have seen in comments, I am a very happy girl.
In addition to dressing up or shooting I love to dance, talk, and cook. The previous post may actually have been a “rant” if someone had insulted my cooking. I take pride. A lot of pride.
I love what I do. I truly believe that if your career is one involving other humans you have to love it to do it, and definitely to do it well. This goes for teachers, any person on payroll in a hospital, and as someone pointed out in a comment; the person in the window of a drive through. I have had a day made by the person serving my morning coffee on more than one occasion.
Speaking of. I wouldn’t call anyone “just” anything. I was so disappointed by the number of responses I got that used the word “inferior” in any context. When discussing medicine there should be no superior or inferior. There is however a significance variance of scope of practice. These are very different things. What I was trying to say was that I love my job and the scope of practice I have in it. I am not jealous of the physician for the scope theirs entails. I do wish though that the public had a better understanding of the knowledge Nurses gain and use with what we do. I clearly wasn’t alone here. I also placed the blame for this on myself and my colleagues, not on physicians.
On the subject of the health care team; I meant no disrespect to our other member; Respiratory Therapists, LPNs, MAs, NAs, etc. Had my post been a write up on the health care team I would have included you all. It was not though. It was my reflection on what I do, and since I am a nurse it made sense to write about nursing. I did say I can’t do my job without other members of the team. Also, in different places I have worked the others in health care, as well as my own role has varied. The details I used were related to responsibilities I have had in the positions I have held.
Which by the way include NICU, Pediatrics, and PICU. I have never worked out patient, med-surg, or adults, and have immense respect for those of you who do. Our roles are different but our responsibilities hold the same weight. I meant no offense to clinic nurses. I think my comment was misunderstood. As a frequent patient I know how much you do, which is why I wrote that rooming a patient is hardly the extent of your work. Many people do not know it is the nurse on the phone line triaging their call, monitoring lab and test results, thinking ahead for what the doctor may need or want for your visit. I am sorry it came off as condescending or segregating.
I have a passion for my work, a passion for my patients. I do not however tie my self worth, self esteem, or even joy to my career. I have gained confidence and joy from it, but not exclusively. I am not defined solely by my career either, although this definition of self is something I have thought a lot about since I began this blog. In fact, it is one of the primary reasons i began the blog almost a year ago. You can read more about that in my post titled Definition.
My response to the comment of dismissal mentioned in Just a Nurse was not necessarily related to that one comment. Rather, the comment and my response allowed me to evaluate my feelings about my title of “Nurse” being misunderstood. I clearly was not alone here either. At this point as a nurse I have more experience in actual patient care, assessment, and implementation of treatment than most residents or first to second year fellows. This is not at all to say I am smarter or more qualified. It is to say that likely, I myself have seen as many wounds assessed and treated. In the work place my assessment would have been heard and discussed. Outside of work it was dismissed. None of this had anything to do with who was right or wrong. It brought forth the discrepancy between my professional role and it’s widespread understanding, or lack thereof. Here in lies the issues many nurses face; experience versus education. I myself don’t know where I stand on which is more valuable. I think it is situational, and more than that, the collaboration of the two leads to the best care and outcomes. Which is exactly why I have such respect for the other members of the team and such pride in the role I get to play.
This leads me directly to a point much addressed in reader comments; the bachelors degree.
There has not been a day in my career that I have felt my degree made me a stronger clinical nurse. I don’t assess better, place lines more easily, or comfort patients more completely because of it. I do however value the leadership skills, professionalism, and pride in my profession that it has given me. I was fortunate enough to attend Le Moyne College’s unique nursing program that allowed me to receive an associates degree from a clinically driven hospital based associate’s program with a liberal arts BSN component. Like it or not we live in a degree driven society. They do earn respect and nursing has in some ways fallen behind the curve. Right or wrong. I have valued what my bachelors earned me and spoke from personal opinion and experience when I stated that it has made me well rounded as well as respected, as this has been my personal experience.
Finally, I want to make this point crystal clear. I can at this point in my career count on one hand the number of physicians I have NOT enjoyed working with, felt belittled by, or felt ignored by. The physicians I have worked with have taught me daily. They have asked my opinion in areas I have experience and I have learned from theirs in other areas. I had no intention for my post to turn into a doctor bash. On the contrary I meant to point out how glad I am that they do their job and I do mine.
And as a disclaimer; I am human. I make mistakes, bad calls, wrong choices. I get cranky with coworkers, patients, and families. I am not the nurse I want to be every single day. But I like to think I will get there.
Note: I owe this post’s clever title idea to a dear friend Kim.