Last month, I was on a call with a business owner. This man, while telling me about his company, started talking about nurses and the nursing profession. Now, he warned me first with saying, ‘You know, I’m not a nurse’, but then went on to adamantly talk about something with SO MUCH passion in his voice… I thought he sounded like one!
What was he talking about?
Well, he started out saying to me that nurses are great story-tellers. This is no secret. With trailblazers out there like the American Nurse Project or the Dying in America documentary, we are able to see and hear from these nurse story-tellers firsthand. With pride, each of these nurses shares their experiences. The ups and downs of their career. The joy of being a nurse. The heartfelt passion they have for the profession. What a privilege it is to be a nurse!
OK- so then this man went on to say… these stories are not getting out there enough. And I have to agree. We have the projects mentioned above. We have nurses as nurse entrepreneurs blogging, making videos, and creating content about nursing. We have nurse authors and speakers. We have pockets of nurses across this country- around the globe really- getting these stories out there… But to me, it could be on a much larger scale.
And I know there are things like the Dr. Oz show, that asks for nurses to be nominated and then subsequently picked for the spotlight. But if nursing was truly out there- and truly visible, would we have situations that arise like the comment made on The View? Would we have TV programs that portray nurses as sex objects? Would we have the public perception that all a nurse does is give medications and wipe behinds?
Nursing is voted by the most trusted profession almost each and every year. In 2015, nurses actually received 85% of the votes. 85%! That is amazing! I still feel that there is something missing. As did the man I was speaking to on the phone…
So he said that the stories need to ‘get out there’ in a greater way. Then he said something that made me almost fall out of my chair. He said something that I have thought and said. He said something that I JUST MADE a video about that very day! Nurses are still under-appreciated… even though they win the ‘trust’ vote, they are not appreciated as they should be. And I would even take it a step further-
We do not appreciate ourselves as we should.
I have seen it many times and it makes me cringe. A nurse is asked about their job, and they say “I’m a nurse”. The person they’re talking to is totally blown away and thinks this is amazing stuff. Maybe even starts gushing and praising and asking questions. Or is silent, in shock.. like they have just come across a celebrity and don’t know what to do or say next. And then the nurse blows it and says-
“Oh, it’s nothing really. It’s just nursing. I’m just a nurse.”
WHAT?!?!?! No way! You are never JUST a nurse. The nurse may say or think- but it’s my job. I am just doing my job. And there I start in with-
Do you know what your job is!? Your job is saving lives! Your job is keeping people out of harm! Your job is discovering the underlying cause of what’s wrong! Your job is delivering life into this world! Your job is educating people on their health! That’s life and death stuff, people!!
I think the first step to increasing the nurses’ story out there- to improving the perception of nursing in the public- to getting the media straight with showcasing the nurse in a positive light… is to
Plain and simple. Think about it over the next week. Think about what you do. What you’ve done in your career. All of the lives you have touched. Think about who you have impacted, saved, helped, or made even smile. I mean, think about it.
A homeless person who may be stepped over time and time again, thousands of time a day, on a busy street in NYC- a nurse helps them, washes them, smiles at them.
A criminal is seen as beyond help. No one cares. Is shunned by society. A nurse doesn’t turn them away. A nurse cares. Provides empathy and compassion.
Think about what you do and appreciate yourself. It’s time. It is time for nursing to take a stand. For yourself, for the profession. Appreciate the fact that you are a nurse and that you are part of nursing!
What did we miss? I’d love to hear about how you appreciate the fact that you are a nurse in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
About the Author: As a keynote speaker, bestselling author and virtual conference host, Elizabeth partners with hospitals, organizations, associations, and nursing groups to help transform the field of nursing from the inside out. During the National Nurse’s Week online conference, ‘The Art of Nursing‘, Elizabeth supports nurses in achieving professional goals of continued learning and development. Click here to find out more about how The Art of Nursing appreciates and celebrates our profession in a meaningful way.