I attended my grandmother's nursing reunion today. I discovered a sort of animosity for new nurses hidden under all of those flowered shirts and trifocal glasses. One by one they stood up and bemoaned the current state of the nursing profession, with the fact that we no longer wear white uniforms topping the list of reasons that we, as a profession, have trotted too far off the beaten path for professional redemption. Nursing is not respected. And certainly won't be as long as you aren't traipsing around with white uniforms and huge, wing-ed hats.
I had to disagree. I may be new, but I'm also a lot closer to remembering the pride I felt the first time I held my license in my hand, the first time I introduced myself as a nurse, the first time I scribbled RN after my name. I was proud, not just because I passed a test, but because I was a nurse, and my whole life I, along with everyone else I knew, held nurses up with great esteem. I was one of the them. Nursing is very respected to day, which is why I chose to go in this direction. I've never met a patient or their family who didn't think our jobs were important and hard. I've never met a person who didn't say 'wow' when I state what my profession is. I've never heard (yet) a physician or PA say 'what do you know'. In fact, they consistently ask me for my opinion, for my knowledge, for my take on everything.
I'm sorry that older nurses can't see that. I'm sorry that they have been made bitter by their experiences as nurses and as patients. I'm sorry that they feel good nursing care cannot be given without a white uniform and hat. I'm sorry that they feel like nurses only like to sit around and gossip, rather than bathe their patients or turn them or whatever. I was like, no... we do all of these things, still. Oh you should've heard the groans around the room when I said we don't lift our own patients! What is nursing coming to, after all? Well, I don't have time to find 4 other nurses to strain and huff and puff with me, nor do I want to injure myself. I make sure it gets done and I oversee the process. That's the beautiful thing about nursing today, I'm not just a grunt worker. I'm a professional, with decisions to make. I'm not there to haul patients up by their draw sheets every two hours. But I will make sure it happens.
In other news, I had a patient for four days with trisomy 9-q, a 33 year old with the mental capacity of an 18-month-old. I had some long, trying days, let me tell you. The parents came in the first day and ripped me up and down for everything under the sun. I listened, calmly. Let them vent. Then I addressed every single concern they had and followed up with it the next day. I felt the importance of that next day weigh down upon me walking into the building that morning. I had made some promises, and I had to deliver. When I was able to locate a speech therapist, arrange a swallow study, and bring in PT all in the same morning, completely bypassing the medical service, I was thrilled with myself. This is nursing!