Do you ever wish people didn't know you were a nurse?

  1. I'm just wanting to gripe a bit. I'm a very private person and don't make it a practice to broadcast info. about myself all over the place.
    I'm speaking specifically right now of going to the doctor. Maybe I went a little wild since I've gotten health insurance, but I've been to several doctors (a psychiatrist, a neurologist and an obstetrician) and every doctor I have been to see knows I'm a nurse. I wonder if it is protocol for the secretary or MA to write "THIS PATIENT IS A NURSE" on the front of charts before they are given to the doctor? I only filled it out on the new patient forms where they ask your employer and profession and I know the docs and nurse's don't read that. I even went as far as not filling this info. in when I went to the last doctor (ob/gyn) but I was called back to fill the info. in!
    Now this isn't necessarily earth-shaking, but at the same time, every single doctor has questioned me about my profession, where I got my training, and what I do at my job. I won't make any secret that I am not exactly proud to tell the doctor ,"I went to Excelsior College which is basically a through the mail school and my degree is an associate degree." I have decided the next time someone asks I will tell them I am a Rhodes scholar and got my nursing degree in England, or something. Furthermore, they expect me to know things because I am a nurse. The psychiatrist is especially bad to drill me with questions and say, "You are an RN! You should know this!" Hey, doc, I'm mental as it is, you shouldn't pressure me!!!
    No, just because we have RN after our name doesn't mean people should assume and expect us to know everything!

    Family and neighbors are as bad. I was recently talking on the phone to my mom who lives out of state. She said, " I wish you were here to look at my side, it's red and scaly, it might be shingles." :stone
    A family friend said he had two bumps near his rectum, would I look at them... NO I WON'T!!!

    I don't know, maybe I'm burned out and the holidays are starting to get to me.
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  2. 58 Comments

  3. by   Dixielee
    I think it just goes with the job. I know lawyers get asked legal questions, decorators get asked decorating questions, and nurses get asked medical questions.

    I had 2 babies very early in my nursing career and did not let anyone know I was a nurse. I didn't want them to think I knew what I was doing, because it was new to me.

    I also have stayed with family members who are hospitalized, and try not to let anyone know I am a nurse. I don't want to be intimidating, but I do want my family to get good care. I know floor nurses are just too busy to give the kind of care I can on a one to one basis. I personally am thankful when family members are there and want to lend a hand whether they are medically inclined or not.

    I has a neighbor who would go to the doctor then call me to see which Rx she should have filled. DUH??? You just paid good money to go to your doc and you are asking me?

    I don't mind offering general medical advice but am careful to add the caveat, "if you are concerned in any way, you should contact your physician or go to the ER". Depending on who is asking advice, you could get yourself into trouble.

    Just go with the flow. I would actually rather have my doctor know I am a nurse so they can talk to me on a different level. I am not afraid to ask them questions either and expect professional not condesending replies.
  4. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    I'm noticing that the times i've been asked by somewhat strangers what i do for a living, and after i answer, the next statements are "Are Grey's Anatomy/House/Scrubs/ER how nursing really is?" Gag.
  5. by   MIA-RN1
    I tell my patients who are nurses that even tho I know they are a nurse, I don't expect them to know everything about OB nursing and ask them if they just want everything in layman's terms. They usually say yes.
    I haven't been a patient yet, since becoming a nurse, so I don't know how that will go down when it happens.
  6. by   BrnEyedGirl
    [quote=motorcycle mama;1938241] No, just because we have RN after our name doesn't mean people should assume and expect us to know everything!

    I agree,...I took my husband to ER in September for what I was sure was a kidney stone,.of course it was a saturday and we had nothing stronger than advil in the house,..the ER Dr says he has "a 7 cm mass in his R kidney, we really need to keep him over night and have a urologist see him and get a more diagnostic CT",....next day he was diagnosed w/renal cell carcinoma,..I then had two different problems w/ the DR's ,...first off I am a cardiac nurse I know almost nothing about cancer,.and once I heard the "C" word I became very stupid! One Dr talked to me like this was routine and I understood this as well as he did,.the other one patted me on the arm and said things like "you don't need to worry about that sweetheart!"" UUGGHHHHH,...very frustrating!!!!
  7. by   Dalzac
    I seldom let a lot of people know I am a nurse because of the dreaded 4 word start of "Hey you're a nurse...." It makes me absolutely bonkers and I usually end up saying something pretty hateful. I used to be calm about it until the same people ask the same question. With that I usually say "It's cancer and you will be dead in a week or less, better go see your doc" If they get huffy I tell them I am NOT a Doc and if they want to pay me my wages I will wash it and put a foley in if they need it and I could throw in an enema for nothing.
    Now that never fails to get them to stop.
  8. by   TheCommuter
    I went to the doctor's office on Wednesday and one of the questions on the 'New Patient Questionnaire' read, "What's your occupation?" I left it blank because I'd rather be treated the same as any other patient who walks into the doctor's office.

    The doctor quickly asked me during examination, "What do you do for a living?" I told him I was a nurse.

    I seriously think the employees in doctor's offices treat people differently according to their occupational status. I think they assume that the convenience store clerk is less-educated and has lower occupational prestige than the physicist, and therefore treats the two patients differently. I wouldn't be surprised if they spoke to the plumbers and janitors more slowly than they did to the lawyers and college professors.
  9. by   yai J, RN
    I can understand all the above responses, but I'd like to offer another view. I used to work as a family therapist and encountered a lot of comments and questions like I think everyone does about his or her work. But when it comes to health care, it really can be important in diagnosing problems--a point that I learned when I went to an accupuncturist who asked me if I got along with my neighbors (I as seeing him for fertility issues!). I think there are potential occupational hazards that can complicate health care. I personally would rather have my caregiver ask comprehensive questions. Just a thought...
  10. by   clemmm78
    I've been a nurse for almost 25 years and have never had a problem with people knowing that. I've never had a friend or family member use that to try to get me to check something or anything like that.

    I like it that drs and other health care professionals know that I'm a nurse because I believe that there is a level of professional courtesy that exists in terms of I feel that I get a bit more leeway in asking questions and getting more clarification. I've had a few privileges that others have not, such as being allowed to take my dd home following surgery, earlier than most would. This is because this particular surgeon knows me well and knows that I do not hesitate to ask for help if I need it. He also knew that my dd was at risk in the hospital because it was cold/flu season and she was an unstable asthmatic.

    I think much of it comes across in our demeanour. I've met many nurses as patients or as family members who come across as obnoxious know-it-alls, feeling that they deserve special treatment or that they know it all, and question your every move - often in the wrong because their nursing experience is in a different field altogether.

    When I go in for medical care, I won't announce that I'm a nurse, but I don't hide it either. The knowledge comes in very handy and will often allow you a greater rapport with the treating nurses. Of course, sometimes it does backfire, and it has happened on occasion, but I feel that those incidents are in the minority.
  11. by   TammyJo
    I'm sorta in the middle. I don't announce to the world that I'm a nurse, but I don't hide the fact either. However, I do like to leave my white hat and cape at the door when I leave work. I do not like being the all knowing on every medical condition. I work in long term care. I am not an expert in all of the newest medical advances in the hospital and I don't know why the Cardiac Surgeon didn't think anything else could be done for your uncle after surgery that didn't go exactly as planned. Most of the time when people ask for advice I usually tell them, you better have that checked by your doc!!
  12. by   hogan4736
    Quote from motorcycle mama
    ...I only filled it out on the new patient forms where they ask your employer and profession and I know the docs and nurse's don't read that...
    It seems they do read it, as I always get asked about my job: webmaster

    I told the MA that once long ago, because I too was tired of talking shop in the doc's office...works like a charm...It stuck...he asks me every time I come in (yearly) how the "internet business is"

    My biggest peeve: when I'm working and the first words out of a patient's mouth are "I'm a nurse"

    I don't care, and it has NOTHING to do with why you're here today...
    Last edit by hogan4736 on Nov 24, '06
  13. by   Jo Dirt
    Quote from clemmm78
    I've been a nurse for almost 25 years and have never had a problem with people knowing that. I've never had a friend or family member use that to try to get me to check something or anything like that.

    I like it that drs and other health care professionals know that I'm a nurse because I believe that there is a level of professional courtesy that exists in terms of I feel that I get a bit more leeway in asking questions and getting more clarification. I've had a few privileges that others have not, such as being allowed to take my dd home following surgery, earlier than most would. This is because this particular surgeon knows me well and knows that I do not hesitate to ask for help if I need it. He also knew that my dd was at risk in the hospital because it was cold/flu season and she was an unstable asthmatic.

    I think much of it comes across in our demeanour. I've met many nurses as patients or as family members who come across as obnoxious know-it-alls, feeling that they deserve special treatment or that they know it all, and question your every move - often in the wrong because their nursing experience is in a different field altogether.

    When I go in for medical care, I won't announce that I'm a nurse, but I don't hide it either. The knowledge comes in very handy and will often allow you a greater rapport with the treating nurses. Of course, sometimes it does backfire, and it has happened on occasion, but I feel that those incidents are in the minority.
    Wow, that is so amazing that no one has ever asked you for medical advice. I remember the day before my graduation from LPN school it started: a neighbor brought her toddler to my door to ask me about the large knot on her daughter's finger. I'm not saying I get a steady stream of people coming to my door, but it is not uncommon for me to be asked about this or that ailment or condition. It really irks me and I have started to tell them I have absolutely no idea of what they are talking about--especially I especially say this to my mom. I'm embarrassed at how someone as intelligent and educated as she is tries to put me on a pedestal or something...like I've all but gone through medical school.

    I don't want special treatment at the doctor's office, and I do try to hide my nurse status. The secretary at one particular office always ends everything she says to me with a nervous laugh and, "but you already know this, you're a nurse."
    Aaaahhhh!!!

    I'm a nurse are words that rarely, if ever, come out of my mouth. I don't care if people talk down to me or speak more slowly and use very simple terms. That is good. No expectations. That is what I like.
    I dont understand people who want the world to know they are nurses by wearing t shirts and having special license plates, etc...it's like, la dee dah, you want a medal or something?
  14. by   clemmm78
    No, I don't want a medal. I know teachers who have not a problem letting people know they're teachers, same with engineers, plumbers and farmers. A nurse is who I am and I'm not going to hide it.

    I know people in many other professions that have tshirts and license plates - how does that differ from a nurse doing that.

    If someone says to me "but you a nurse," I nod and say, yes, I am. But, why don't we pretend right now that I"m not and you can explain it so I can understand properly.

    As for people not approaching me with their ailments, etc, i"m not the only one. I just asked my oldest friend who I met in nursing school and she says that she, too, has rarely, if ever, been used as a free medical source.

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