So last week was Nurses Week. This week is Hospital Week, so it still seems like we are celebrating.
For Nurses week, I recieved some gifts. A very nice Umbrella from the hospital I am working at, and some very cheap “reusable” shopping bags from the company I work for. The shopping bags are made of the same material our paper scrubs are made of, and will last maybe a few months with grocery use. That said, I am more pleased with the shopping bags actually because I got an umbrella last year from Duke…but I know that the bags must have cost all of about 10-15 cents a piece for the company, so I think it was a bit cheap of them, but it’s always nice to be recognized.
One of the Hospitals in Orlando had been running commercial spots to thank the Nurses. I found these commercials to be so irritating…. At the end the business suited man surrounded by mostly women in a variety of “nurse outfits” makes a statement saying, “Nurses are really Angels with Shoes.”
Well, that certainly sets up an odd expectation. Google defines Angel as an attendant to God, or a “Person of exceptional Holiness. Neither one describes me, or most of my friends very well at all, but we all have a license and wear a name badge stating RN in pretty loud letters. I’m starting to think this Angel business may be why our Patient Satisfaction Scores are always not as high as administration would like.
I am not exactly where this Angel idea got started, but it certainly has spawned a great deal of business for makers of interesting jewlrey.
I think it’s because people want to be taken care of someone who has a higher calling, beyond money. One of the comments we recieve all the time when we get a good review is “My Nurse really seemed to care about me”. I suppose the idea of someone poking around your body who was only in it for the money bring up images of females who are less holy, or course with Florence Nightengale’s not so stellar reputation I suppose people also pushed the Nurse-Angel image as a way to clean things up.
One comment we recieved recently was that “Nurses never care if you puke on them” (Actually we really do..we, like the rest of the population find it disgusting, but we are nice about it because its our job…believe me none of us went to school to be vomited on.)
Unfortunately, people, I’m not an angel. I can not really imagine going to work on a regular basis if there wasn’t pay involved. If I were a holy being, I would be able to answer all the call bells instantaneously, listen to the drama induced ramblings of your visitor who is more concerned with informing the nurse of the details of their last hospital experience than with you, the patient, I’d be able to provide all sorts of pillow fluffing, ice water getting, TV channel changing and all the things apparently our patients care about, all with a smile on my face.
As I said, I’m not an angel. While you are in my Department, I will be very very concerned about you. (Unless of course you are one of the millions of people with a cold who arrive at the Emergency Department.) My main goal is to keep you alive and improve your condition. Doing that rarely requires angelic skills. But it does require that I think and use a variety of skills that I have developed over the years. I have to be able to start an IV drip quickly, monitor your heart for all sorts of potential or actual issues, initiate the right treatment for Emergent problems, and recognize when things aren’t going in the direction they should. I’m also spending a lot of time reviewing treatment orders. You see, if the Doctor orders the wrong treatment for you, I’m supposed to catch it and not initiate it. If I do initiate it I’m going to be held liable, especially if you come to some harm. You probably think thats all on the Doctor’s shoulders, but actually it’s a huge part of my job. On top of that, I have to make sure the Doctor’s follow those pesky protocols created for your safety, and somehow I have to locate the missing piece of critical equipment as well. Over the years, especially working in hospitals where Doctors are training, Nurses have saved a lot of patients from unneeded tests, harmful medications etc. While you are my patient, I will do everything I can to make sure you come out better on the other side. Unfortunatley I get pretty busy doing these things. Sometimes your pillow remains unfluffed, or you have to continue to watch The Golf Channel longer than you’d like, you might even have to wait to eat, amazing how many people show up in the Emergency Department for an Emergency and within 20 minutes of arrival want to know if they can have a sandwich….
Patients can’t “see” a Nurse checking for allergies, or verifying the dose of a medication. They are not usually allowed to see the “drama” involved when one refuses to follow an order for the safety of a patient. (sometimes it is dramatic, other times it’s pretty much the doc saying “Ooops sorry”..) They don’t often realize that a third “eye” is glued to the cardiac monitor at the desk, watching whatever is going on and making some decisions based on what I see. So, all they see is the pillow rearrangement…a less painful blood draw, or a meal tray brought when asked, so I guess thats all they can judge.
and Unfortunately, unless you, the patient, do something spectacular, and I mean really spectacular (like actively try to die, actually die, or have an injury so bizarre that I can not forget it even when I want to~like a knife enbedded in your eyeball by your wife who caught you in bed with your girlfriend at the family home~) I usually forget you at the end of the day. Unfortunate but true, there are just so many of you, I can not possibly remember you all.
So, I’m not an angel. I work for money. I enjoy what I do but don’t want to do it all the time. I care about you the patient, when you are my responsibility. When I go home, I don’t attend to God or anyone else. I do normal people stuff…the dishes, vaccuum, walk the dog.
I wonder if our patient satisfaction scores nationwide would increase if nurses were not characterized as heavenly beings, but more as people with a job to do….
But then again…if that were to happen….then there might be no chance of me recieving