According to the Gallup poll, nurses have viewed by the public as being the most honest and trustworthy professionals in the United States since the beginning of the 21st century (with the exception of first responders, who deservedly won the country’s gratitude and hearts after the events of 9/11/01).
Having said that, we continually hear messages that we aren’t truly seen for who we are and what we do. In fact, some very derogatory things have been said about us over the years, with several notable incidents worth mentioning, one being quite recent indeed.
But first, we’ll remember Joy Behar of “The View”, a morning talk show, and how she made fun of a beauty pageant contestant who came onto the stage wearing scrubs and a stethoscope during the talent portion of the pageant to talk about her work as a nurse and tell a story about a beloved patient. This moment in time spawned the “Show Me Your Stethoscope” hashtag and a non-profit that supports nurses everywhere through savvy advocacy,.
Moving on to news from this month of April, 2019: Washington State Senator Maureen Walsh made an unfortunate and ignorant comment about nurses in regards to legislation mandating meal breaks for nurses, and the responding firestorm has been intense.
Here’s my Facebook message to Senator Walsh:
Senator Walsh, your comments on the WA Senate floor about nurses “playing cards all day” were incredibly ignorant, senseless, and in extremely poor judgment. I challenge you to spend just one hour on a busy hospital floor and tell me that nurses have nothing to do. (I myself wonder how many senators play solitaire on their phones or check Instagram while pretending to listen to crucial legislative debate.)
You should be held accountable for your utter ignorance and trashing of the largest segment of workers within the healthcare industry. Next time you or your loved ones are in the hospital, I imagine the nurses just might ignore your call bell for a while so that they can finish their hand of poker.
I hope every nurse and supporter of nurses in the great state of Washington remove you from office at the next opportunity. Someone so ignorant and poorly spoken doesn’t deserve to hold such a position. I imagine your staff will remove this comment from your feed, so I’ll also send it as a message.
The nursing profession deserves a heartfelt apology from you, as well as a significant contribution to a nursing- or healthcare-related charity that can benefit patients who need it most.
The following hashtags have been trending on social media, and there are likely many more I have yet to notice:
And this just in from Gomer Blog, sort of the medical version of the satirical newspaper and website, The Onion:
SEATTLE, WA – In a disappointing turn of events, nurses were forced to cancel their weekly poker tournament when a patient unexpectedly went into cardiac arrest. The patient, who was brought in by EMS for chest pain, unexpectedly lost pulses on the ED ramp. Nurses were forced to fold their hands and drop their chips in order to attend to the patient. After several rounds of grueling CPR and defibrillation, the patient had regained pulses.
Unfortunately, the poker game was unable to be resumed as reports came in that they would be receiving three trauma patients who were in critical condition.
Reports show that this is the three hundredth consecutive week that the poker tournament had to be cancelled. Reasons for cancellation included “stroke,” “pedestrian hit by motor vehicle,” “degloving,” “pediatric drowning,” and “seventy patients in the waiting room.”
Nurses held out hope for next week, although the card game seemed unlikely. At press time, the Senator Maureen Walsh from Washington was unavailable for comment. She was taking a much needed vacation after a two-hour session in Congress.
So, please send a deck of playing cards and, most importantly, a note about your feelings and your story of being a hard-working nurse to:
Senator Maureen Walsh
P.O. Box 40416
Olympia, Wash., 98504-0435
This is a teaching moment — let’s not just be angry, let’s educate!
You can also call her office and comment on her utter ignorance at (360) 786-7630.
Finally, please purchase a copy of From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Teach the Public by Bernice Buresh and Suzanne Gordon. This book is a bible for nurses who want to speak up and speak out.