I read a very interesting blog today entitled “The Diet Coke Incident” on a blog http://www.florenceisdead.com. I’ve enclosed the link above.
It’s an interesting article and I’m not going to summarize it here but it basically elaborates why nurses don’t want to do patient care anymore. I left a very short compliment on this blog but I wanted to elaborate the topic more with my readers.
Although nurses hold PhD’s MSN’s, BSN’s and nationally recognized certifications, we are not considered to be a “profession” by the vast majority. To them we are just a glorified waitress and over time, incidents like “The Diet Coke Incident” leaves nurses bitter, burned out and looking for the first opportunity for a change of scenery.
I work on a perioperative unit in a hospital. My job is to get patients ready for the operating room. I read through their labs and medical history, I do a physical assessment, a care plan and a preop checklist, medicate them as needed and place an IV in them with a limited amount of time all while providing emotional support to the patient and their family about their illness, their surgery and what to expect. It is also my job to use my critical thinking skills while I am reading their medical history and labs to look for any red flags to present to the anesthesiologist and surgeon that may prevent them from going into the operating room safely.
Earlier in the summer our unit was awarded with the highest patient satisfaction scores of the hospital and given a nice party by administration. It was nice to be recognized like that but I can honestly say that my coworkers and I bust our butts day in and day out to get our patients in and out of the OR safely while dodging “Diet Coke Incidents” in effort to keep our patients satisfied with our care.
The general public has no idea what nurses go through during a workday. They think they do because they watch television. They think that just because we are nurses, we have to tolerate abuse. They have no idea that some of us dreamed of becoming a nurse since we were young children or what we went through to become nurses. We had long hours of study, clinical time in the hospital and nursing instructors that would fail you in an instant if you compromised a patient’s safety. As nursing students we missed out on plenty of fun with family and friends because we had to study, study, study or work, work, work at the part time job many of us had in the hospital as student nurses.
They have no idea how long we go without food or a bathroom break and that we are expected to function despite the fact that we haven’t eaten or have had to urinate for several hours. They have no idea what it feels like to be barraged with several different situations going on at once always having to stay sharp and on our game because we are dealing with human lives, or that we put our nursing licenses on the line every time we walk into a patient room. They have no idea what it feels like to hold a BSN and a nationally recognized certification and to be screamed at, threatened with violence, sexually harassed and treated in a way that lets us know that they consider what we are doing for them in the care we provide is insignificant. They don’t know how hard we bite our tongues when we are mistreated so we don’t get fired because we really want to scream at them in retaliation while we are trying to be a patient advocate, create a safe and caring environment, take care of the patient and the family, carry out physician orders and be at the ready if an emergency arises.
I often joke if I won the lottery, I’d walk my nursing license back to the board of nursing and retire. In reality I’d miss the interaction with my patients. I’d miss caring for people through life and death situations knowing that I did everything I could to help them and hoped I made a difference even though I may never know if I did or not. There are many of times that I have a wonderful conversation with a patient while I am getting them ready for the operating room and wish I could continue to chat with them. In these cases it’s a win-win situation; I am able to give the patient the last few moments of normalcy before their surgery by distracting them from the reason they are with me and they are able to make my day by treating me with like a human being instead of a servant, reminding me that this is why I went into nursing to begin with. On the contrary I also get the patients that I care for that I look forward to releasing them from my care so that I don’t have to deal with them anymore and who make me wonder why I went into nursing to get this abuse.
I am a big girl and I have thick skin. I have no desire to ever leave the bedside and I can take a lot of crap from people and set limits in a way that doesn’t buy me a ticket into my boss’s office for a reprimand. Sometimes I might just put that large bore IV needle in a place that hurts because a patient was rude, or make them wait for me to get them that Ginger ale they’ve asked for several times for when it’s convenient for me to get it and not at the instant they demand it. Other times if they are really nasty, I might just go silent for the duration of my time with the patient, going through the motions of my job duties, making sure I provide the same safe, effective nursing care I provide for everyone, just not caring for them from my heart. I have no problem asking a family member to have a seat in the waiting room because I don’t like the way they are speaking to me and they are a distraction to me while I care for their family members.
Nurses are no longer the submissive angels in white with caps that you see in old movies and on television. We are degreed professionals trained to promote health, prevent illness, and care for the sick, disabled and dying. We too are always striving to learn more about the patient care we do so that we can be the best we can be. In reality, nurses shouldn’t have to experience any “Diet Coke Incidents” but unfortunately they do. Moral of the story, treat your nurse like a human being because they are here for you.