Nurses Week? Nurses Year!

Nursing is one of those professions that requires you to be compassionate, intelligent, ever evolving, while having sick and twisted sense of humor. I love being a nurse (most days) and I may be biased, but I do not think nurses get the recognition or appreciation we deserve. Although to add we do not go into this professions for the “Thank Yous” or praise.

For the record there are days we get to take a “breather” and have a smooth sailing shift, but nursing is known as a very busy on your feet type career. Nursing has one of the highest percentages of burn out and I can 100% see why. We get a nurses week every year and a few shout outs from time to time for exceptional care, but most of the public has no idea what it takes to be one of “us” crazy people. Here are a few of the key things nurses will get, and what a majority of the public does not fully understand. Celebrate nurses everyday! Without nurses this world would probably stop spinning.

1. We go through 4+ years of pure misery to become a nurse. All schooling is hard, but nursing specific classes are only getting harder as the years go on.  I remember thinking I failed every test and basically locking myself in a room with a gallon of coffee and cup of tears.

2. We ONLY work three days a week. Good joke. Thanks. Most of us work three days but 12×3 = 36 hours then add the extra charting, meetings, and change of shift “shit shows”. Anything done for 12 hours is grueling. Even sipping margs by the beach 12 straight hours is exhausting. Long off hour shifts are like a marathon!

3. “I’m SO sorry I forgot to bring your saltine crackers and fresh brewed coffee” I say… after being scolded by a patients family member. While in my head replaying 1 code, 2 code browns, and an admission later that had gone on immediately after the request in a hellish fashion.

4. We hold your loved ones hand and offer our support while you are away all hours of the day and night. We are there during their worst times and there when theres also great progress. We are their personal 24/7 cheerleader.

5. We are expected to find balance amongst chaos and we will do it with a smile on our face and a few jokes later. From Med-Surg, to ICU, to PACU, you are expected to be on your “A” game even if all your patients press the call button at the same exact time and are jumping out of bed every 3 minutes.

6. We are not a licensed therapist but we are there to listen and take the wrath from all patients and their families.  We get chewed new ones, listen to family drama, and hear and empathize with your fears. We are your listening ear during difficult the very times.

7. A good day for a nurse, is the average persons worse day ever. Barf, poop, blood, oh my! We see, smell, and hear the unthinkable and learn to put on the blinders to it all. We get excited when a constipated person poops and  we sit in “awe” of a horror story like photo of somebody’s finger hanging by a thread after a man vs chainsaw incident.

8. We are broken. Im 25 and feel like my back and neck are 85. We assist people 3 times our size and turn patients every two hours while walking 5 miles around the hospital most shifts. We splurge on expensive dorky nursing shoes, compression socks, and find a massage therapist to avoid looking like the hunchback of notre dame with lovely, bulgy varicose veins.

9. While there are some incredible doctors in this world, we are the eyes for the patient. We are expected to note small changes, complete all posted orders, and bring to attention all concerns. The doctor spends 5-10 minutes, while the nursing staff are there 24/7. We have to earn physician trust and live up to their standards. They are responsible for hundreds of people, and it is not humanly possible for them to be present for all aspects of patient care. That’s what keeps us nurses in business.

10. We care for the sweetest and most amazing people, but we also care for drug seekers, prisoners, gang members, the mentally unsound, know-it-alls, and people who frankly just want to be self destructive to all people around them. We have to treat all people with respect as we would any other patient even if it causes us fear, anxiety, and frustration.

11. Its been brought to attention more this year, but nurses are subject to a lot of violence. Patients throw punches, throw equipment, threaten, and degrade staff, which are all just on the surface of what goes down in hospitals all over the world. The “higher ups” are trying to take action against this and protect their frustrated staff, but the violence in this world has found itself within the hospital walls. Hopefully this is something that can change across the globe someday.

12. We are always expected to stay current and evolve with the hospital and nursing world. We have to make Florence Nightingale proud! From education classes, staying current on our BLS license, we are forever learning and encouraged to grab hold of any learning opportunity we can to better ourselves.

13. We have to have the ability to care for a hospice patient in one room and a patient withdrawing from alcohol going coo-coo for cocoa puffs in the other. We have to hold back tears and project empathy while 5 minutes later getting out your tough “NOT TODAY” voice in the other room.

14. Our bladder is typically always full, we scarf down our lunch at the computer, and drink a thimble full of water a shift. We adapt and put our patients first before our own needs at times to help others.

15. Charting. The WORST thing about nursing. I hate, hate, double hate sitting on my butt charting every detail of what I did on my shift so insurance will pay for the patients bills and i’ll keep my license. If you dont chart it. It never happened!

16. Nursing is a team sport and we are there for everyone of our counterparts. Whether thats helping during a train wreck, helping with a quick boost turned total bed change, or giving a pain pill for someone else’s patient. We may go missing from time to time, but don’t fret, we did NOT forget about your needs or purposely disregard them. We gotchu.

17. We miss out on holidays, birthdays, and events because nursing is a 24/7 job. We celebrate thanksgiving in the hospital food court and ring in the new year with kiddie champagne. It’s not ideal, but we make the most of it and make our own party.

18. We are the messenger pigeon between physicians, physical therapist, nutritionist. We relay information and advocate for our patients and their needs. Nursing is one of the most trusted professions and we have a huge standard to uphold.

19. Please don’t excuse our degree and physicians degree for your “web MD” degree. Sometimes the hardest part of nursing is the people who self diagnose or think they know better than the team. Please sit back and trust we are all working together and doing our very best. We will listen and hear concerns, but I know our team is capable of finding the solution on our own. I do not want to hear are about things pertaining to your view points on vaccines, politics, or your troubled marriage. Lets just get your loved one tuned up and back home!

20. Because I work night shift I had to include a shout out to those amazing individuals. We hear constantly how “quiet” nights are, but people forget to acknowledge how many less people are there to assist and expected duties are entirely different. Day shift deals with a ton of people around asking a million and one questions, lots of patients coming and going, and I do not envy their hard work a single bit. They work hard! All shifts work their ass off, nobody is better or worse than the other. Nursing is a 24 hour job.

21. Nurses are tired! Always. After working 3-4 days/nights in a row there is the “first day off hangover” that gets us all and makes upholding our other responsibilities quiet difficult. I have designer bags… under my eyes. Pretty sure they are Louis Vuitton.

22. We work hard and play hard. Nurses are incredible beast and can work 3 rough shifts in a row then go out with friends and party till the cows come home. We are our harshest critiques and bust our ass to save yours and love doing it. We want to make families and patients feel and know we are there to get the job done.

23. We wear many hats. I never realized how much being a server in a restaurant would help me as a nurse. Running drinks to an from, carrying trays, cleaning up, balancing multiple tasks at once, and taking orders. It is not far from and would suggest anyone in nursing school to take on a serving job.

If you ever find yourself in the hospital or are there for a loved one please understand while you are the priority we are thinking about 3,000 other things while starving and having to pee. We are there to represent ourselves and whichever hospital we work at to the highest degree. I am proud to be a nurse. If you are a nurse wherever in this world you are incredible and are kicking butt. Fill this world up with compassion, empathy, knowledge, humor, and a touch of sass.

Megan the Jet Set RN