Nursing has given me many things, but one of the best is the opportunity to work alongside and subsequently share life with some amazing humans. Natasha is no exception. We met in a PICU in Upstate New York where I was drawn to her immediately by her fierce advocacy, broad clinical knowledge, type-A patient care, and charming sense of humor.
Natasha is one of those people I turn to when I am frustrated by work and need a little perspective. Over the past few years we have had amazing discussion about nursing and its future. This past week was no different.
Following the incidents of Stethoscopegate and the public response of nurses sharing their pride and the details of what they do, her response to me was simple; Finally she said.
Write about it! I told her, and so she did.
Below please find my good friend Natasha’s reply to The View, but more importantly, her response to nurses. We proved this week that our passion is fierce and our voice is loud. Let’s keep using it.
Honestly, I don’t even know who Joy Behar is, or Michelle Collins for that matter. If we’re being truthful, before last week I didn’t know there was a talent section of the Miss America contest.
I do know the best ventilation settings for a child who has almost drowned, and I do know exactly how quickly the amazing team I work with can get a child onto a life saving ECMO machine in an emergency.
These are the things that I know.
I also know that the sad and pathetic attempt at comedy these two women displayed has finally sparked that pissed off, won’t stand for it, “I’m not just a nurse” outrage that is long, oh so long, overdue.
I started out as a critical care nurse, without a single clue in the world as to what I was doing. Now, years later, I’ve completed a Masters in Nursing Administration, and learned from so many amazing mentors the potential that being a nurse holds.
Nursing has introduced me to some of the most knowledgeable, powerful, and passionate people I know.
But here we are, a united group that spends each and every day of our professional lives advocating for others, yet we fail continually to advocate for ourselves.
Over the past week we have heard from oncology and ICU nurses, from clinic nurses and school nurses, nurses who work in the hospital, and those who work in the home. The list is endless because the variety of nurses is endless.
What is the common feature in all of these messages?
It is that finally something has motivated people to stand up and speak out about this amazing, rewarding, but sometimes harder-than-hell profession.
Like most nurses I know, I’ve sat in my car and cried my eyes out more times than I care to count, then wiped my eyes, put on a smile and walked in the house.
I’ve come home and snapped at my boyfriend or family for something trivial after being degraded by a patient’s family all day.
I smile and nod politely when people ask about my job and I divulge that I’m a pediatric critical care nurse and they gasp, “I don’t know how you do it.”
Because you know, sometimes I don’t know either.
If I asked you to Google some of the machines the children I care for are attached to your stomach would turn. I can promise you walking to the morgue with a beautiful baby who has been taken too soon from this world does not equate to a good nights sleep.
Yet somehow, someway, we are all back the next day to fight just as hard for the next life in our hands.
The resilience, integrity, and passion forming the foundation of nursing around the world, is what makes this career so gratifying. To work side by side everyday with colleagues who give every inch of their heart and soul into the work they do, is such a privilege, but I still struggle to fathom why this amazing group doesn’t demand better.
Missed lunch breaks, full bladders, and holidays spent at work are amongst the usual martyr-like reflections that you hear when nurses are being praised. While some of these are unavoidable, some of them are unacceptable.
Dig deeper into this scenario and you find that it only grows grimmer. Nursing fatigue, the increasing incidence of workplace violence, growing patient ratios, and a decline in the value of nursing education in light of cost saving are just a few of the issues that should be on the forefront of our minds.
As an aspiring nursing leader, and a passionate nurse, I want to reach out to each and every one of you posting a proud photo and ask you to use that frustration to be a part of a transformation. To lead our healthcare system to a future where the nursing profession is not overlooked, overworked, and undervalued to the point that we continue to lose incredible individuals to other career paths.
So forget Joy Behar and her mindless colleagues, forget the battle of the “doctors’ stethoscope” and let us instead use this momentum and the passion that has ignited amongst nurses nationwide to make a real change, a meaningful change for the nurses of today, and the future generations to follow.
Natasha Yeates RN, BSN, MSN is a Registered Nurse in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
Do you have something you want to say about nurses? I am a long time believer that it is up to us to share our stories. Give it a try! Tell me what it is about nursing that makes you passionate, what do you wish was different? What do you wish people knew about your daily work?
Email responses to the address provided in the Contact Kateri section. I would love to start sharing some of them!