Statistically, the Nurse is the Number Two most Trusted Profession followed by the Fireman in the Number One Position.
Now ask the Nurse if she feels like the Number Two most trusted profession in the world and you will sadly hear, No. What they are most likely to come back with is they feel like the most disrespected profession.
I started in this profession as a Candy Striper at the age of eleven. I’m now hitting my fifty-seven birthday in two months.
That gives me a long time in a profession that I have been a Candy Striper, a Nurse Aide, a Floor and Unit Nurse, a Manager in several different setting and have volunteered to Sit on Boards.
My background has taken me from Medical units, Psychiatric units, Community, Retirement and I have settled in Geriatrics in Long Term Care.
Wow-what a journey!
I can remember one of my proudest moment when I was at the whopping age of eleven. It was the first day I walked into the hospital in my red and white striped uniform. I instantaneously knew that I was in the right place.
When I was old enough to be hired on and be a Nurse-Aide, that was the next proudest moment in my life.
But nothing compared to the day I walked into work in my white skirt and top with matching white stockings and shoes, wearing my Nurse’s Cap.
I started out my profession working under the Nuns. They were a tough bunch to work for, but they taught us self discipline and respect. The respect was not only for each other but for the patients we cared for.
And respect was given back from the patients and the family of the patients. They appreciated what we did.
If you would have asked me forty years ago should I be a Nurse? I would have proudly said yes. Today, Not so.
Somewhere along the line, everything changed. The nursing shortage increases, and the workload increases. Where we were once a team, we are now an individual who can’t keep up with the newly required paperwork. We have less time with our patients and no time to help each other.
The tension gets higher every day and the workload keeps getting pushed down the ladder. The fewer letters you have behind your name, the more likely you are to get the higher-up’s workload passed on to you. The Domino Effect. Unfortunately, fewer letters also mean less respect.
When you go to Nursing School you learn a term CYA. It stands for cover your ass. That once meant ” if it’s not charted it’s not considered done.” Today CYA means everything you do, everything you say.
The families have changed. The patients have changed. The respect from many of them no longer is there. You were once called Nurse, now we get called names I can’t put in print. We get assaulted, insulted and injured. And worst of all falsely accused, which leaves us in a world of CYA.
And yet, we still get up too early and work too late. We still miss holidays and birthdays and depend on our partners and families to run the kids around.
We continue to get physically and mentally abused.
And some of us, still try to help each other, listen to each other vent and make our own extended families with the staff that we spend more time with than our own.
We live in a life of them against us. Them not only meaning the families and patients but also the management who too are living in a world of CYA. There is something wrong with this way of treating the second most trusted profession.
It is frequently heard now of Post Traumatic Stress affecting the front-line workers. But what you don’t hear about it the disappointments and the hurt feelings or the levels of exhaustion that daily arise to the people who chose to give to a profession that is supposed to be the Caring Profession.
We as a profession don’t expect to be said thank you to, but we do appreciate when it happens. Just like we appreciate the co-worker who sees us overwhelmed and puts down their own work to help another staff member.
As a Young Nurse, my biggest fear was of not knowing something or how not to do something. Now as a Seasoned Nurse, my biggest fear is to leave the profession angry and bitter as I see so many do.
Over the past few years, I have considered hanging up my Nursing Shoes and calling it done, and yet I still believe that what we do is important and I’m still proud to be a Nurse.
The solutions of more staff and less paperwork are needed, but what we most need is to be safe and treated with respect in our work environment. Feeling supported would also be nice. That cost nothing.
As a society, we need our Nurses. As Nurses’ we need society to remember that your Nurses’ are people too.