'Unhealthy' nurses...bad examples? - page 9

I hope this post doesn't offend anyone,but I have noticed a lot of the nurses I know are overweight,smokers or both. Obviously people become nurses because they completed school,and are qualified to... Read More

  1. by   Tweety
    Quote from madwife2002
    My mother was a overweight uncompliant diabetic and she died of uterine cancer, At 75 nothing to do with either of her other complaints

    Was she healthy? With a good quality of life full of vigorous activity?

    My gramps smoked until he was died from a stroke in his 80s, never had a problem breathing at all.
  2. by   Elisheva
    Are we talking about health or the appearance of health? Is the appearance of health the important thing we impart to our patients?

    It's a slippery slope. Sure, it would be great to be the model of good health, but the truth is that we live in a materialistic, superficial society and the "appearance" of health seems to be what matters.

    You can be slim and attractive and be: bulemic, a drug abuser, or suffer from a psychiatric disorder than can be disabling.

    Or, you can be like my dad, who was a smoker for 40 years, eats the world's worst diet, has hypertension and a stroke history starting in 1973, and who has had chronic myologenous leukemia for the past 5 years. He's 86 years old and can outrun me. He works in his garden, loves to go to Wal-mart, and has a girlfriend.

    We owe our patients the truth. Yes, a healthy lifestyle is the ultimate goal, but very few live that way. We need to teach patients to aim for the best without the self-hatred and loathing that our society tries to impose on the less than perfect, to accept themselves when they fall short, and to keep trying. Just like most of us, nurses and otherwise, have to do.

    I think you enable a dysfunctional view of health when you settle for appearance only.
  3. by   supernurse65
    Quote from fifi2323
    I'm sorry to have caused controversy..I was just curious since I will be going in to nursing and I am overweight,and I was wondering what peoples experiences were.I tend to be a worrier,and was concerned how it would be for me. Of course it is not right to discriminate,and being heavy or a smoker doesn't make a bad nurse or bad person. How you care for someone is most important. Everyone is human and are allowed their vices.I also think we are all here for the same reason and we shouldn't attack one another..just my two cents. Anyway, my post was meant an innocent question and I'm sorry if it was taken as anything else.

    fifi I feel it depends on how you feel about YOU. If you think you are a bad example and voice this maybe others will feel the same. Just go to nursing school CONFIDENT and pursue the career that you want to pursue and be the BEST DARNED NURSE YOU CAN BE.
  4. by   ckben
    I agree that your weight or appearance - no matter if it's thin, thick, or whatever, has nothing to do with how competent you are as a nurse. However...

    How can I make any headway with teaching on how bad smoking is for you and all the different ways it affects your entire body (not just your lungs) to a patient when all they have to do is take a trip downstairs to see, at any given time, plenty of nurses and RTs puffing away? Why do I, a non-smoker, feel like a hypocrite handing out the required "why it's important to stop smoking" info sheets since everyone can see that other staff members do the same thing as they do?

    I can't believe some people are citing family members or friends who smoke, drink, eat pure grease, yet they're 98 and active. Great for them! But not everybody will be so lucky. Fact is, smoking and obesity WILL detrimentally contribute to your health, even if it isn't readily apparent. And how much worse for patients who already have, for example, cardiovascular disease! But if you try to teach them, they blow you off and ask other staff for cigs on the way down. It's so frustrating!

    Not to mention the fact that we aren't allowed to go downstairs for a break, or to eat lunch, but smokers can go down 4-5 times a night for smoke breaks, leaving the rest of us to look after their patients. How is that fair?

    Finally, the overweight issue. The only reason I have a problem with overweight nurses is because it's so endemic to our society, and getting worse. How do you try to enforce to someone how their weight may be contributing to their health problems, when all they have to do is walk down the hall to see nurses, many overweight, eating doughnuts and pizza and brownies and cake in the break room?

    Again, it's the same thing. I believe that, as nurses, we should be setting the examples for our patients. Education is key, and how can you
    dare to try to educate your patient if you don't follow your own advice? Yeah, nobody is perfect. But most people become nurses, at least in part, because they want to help people. But how well do you think your patients listen to you if they can obviously see that you don't believe in what you're teaching?

    Sorry if I offended anyone. It wasn't my intention, but I get so frustrated when nurses themselves encourage habits and lifestyles that we KNOW are harmful.
  5. by   Corvette Guy
    Quote from Cyndee, MSN, NP
    Years ago when I graduated with my BSN, my best friend's husband congratulated me and said, "Now don't go and gain a bunch of weight like the rest of the RN's!" I'm now a nurse practitioner and I can tell you that patients EXPECT US TO SET AN EXAMPLE!

    There is a NP in town who runs a CHF clinic and she's morbidly obese (I have no idea if she smokes or not). I have had more than a few of her patients comment on the fact that they can't take her seriously when she tells them to lose weight, precisely because she is so overweight! Frankly, I would feel like a hypocrite if I counseled someone on losing weight or quitting smoking when I had the same vice myself! YOU HAVE TO PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH!
    Excellent post!
    Last edit by Corvette Guy on Sep 20, '06 : Reason: Upon Moderator request & alleviate any further misunderstanding...
  6. by   RGN1
    There's a MASSIVE debate going on about this in the UK in the nursing press. Especially since all hospitals have become no smoking by law.

    It's a "can of worms" on the letters page in the "Nursing Times"

    Personally I think we should all try to help ourselves as we see fit. Some people may wnat to try harder than others but I don't think we should beat ouselves up over it.

    I have to say that this week we have had a much larger (in more ways than one - as you'll see in a moment) number of total knee/hip surgeries.

    Two of the patients were really on the massive side & we were all dreading looking after them post op because we thought they would be impossible to get going & suffer numerous complications. However, I have to say that they were both way better than their thinner counterparts. they were motivated, mobilised early & were markedly more determined than any of the other patients who had had the same surgeries. Gave me food for thought anyway!!
  7. by   Elisheva
    Parts of this thread are almost comical. I worked on a busy med-surg floor. I'm pretty sure that the majority of those patients weren't spending their time worrying about how healthy their nurse was and how his or her weight problems might impact their own lives. As if we occupy that much space in anyone's busy life.

    I go to my nurse practitioner and I don't ask her to step on the scale before she writes me a script for an antibiotic. And I don't leave her office conflicted about how I might live my life as a result of her 30 extra pounds.

    Get a hobby.
  8. by   CuriousMe
    Quote from ckben
    <snip>
    Again, it's the same thing. I believe that, as nurses, we should be setting the examples for our patients. Education is key, and how can you
    dare to try to educate your patient if you don't follow your own advice? Yeah, nobody is perfect. But most people become nurses, at least in part, because they want to help people. But how well do you think your patients listen to you if they can obviously see that you don't believe in what you're teaching?

    Sorry if I offended anyone. It wasn't my intention, but I get so frustrated when nurses themselves encourage habits and lifestyles that we KNOW are harmful.
    When a working with and teaching a patient are you really there to demonstrate how you live, or are you there to care for and give information to them on how they live?

    From a patient perspective, I consider health care folks as consultants on my health care team. I'm in charge of the team. I use all of my consultants for knowledge that I don't have, that they do have. They're not role models, they're not parents; they provide information and expertise. I couldn't care less if they smoke multiple packs a day (unless I have to breathe it...my asthmatic lungs REALLY don't like cigarette fumes) and eat nothing but bacon grease and ice cream for months on end. They are grown adults that get to make informed decisions on how they live and I'm a grown adult that gets to make informed decisions on how I live.

    Peace,
    Cathie
  9. by   Karynica, RN
    don't drink, don't smoke, but overweight. Maybe I should say Obese too. But I do care about my patients and I do give them alot of respect whether they be thin, fat, etc. I don't judge my patient care on looks alone. I do sometimes worry that people may judge me because I am on the "bigger side" and yes I should take better care of myself, but it doesn't have anything to do with how I treat my patients.
  10. by   Corvette Guy
    Quote from Elisheva
    Parts of this thread are almost comical. I worked on a busy med-surg floor. I'm pretty sure that the majority of those patients weren't spending their time worrying about how healthy their nurse was and how his or her weight problems might impact their own lives. As if we occupy that much space in anyone's busy life.

    I go to my nurse practitioner and I don't ask her to step on the scale before she writes me a script for an antibiotic. And I don't leave her office conflicted about how I might live my life as a result of her 30 extra pounds.

    Get a hobby.
    I have a hobby... physical fitness & wellness. :wink2:
  11. by   Elisheva
    Quote from Corvette Guy
    I have a hobby... physical fitness & wellness. :wink2:
    What a coincidence! Me, too. Don't smoke, drink or do drugs, and I work out at the gym three times a week and watch my diet.

    My point being: I doubt that many patients wring their hands and rent their clothes over their nurse's uniform size or whether or not she smokes a cigarette. It's assuming a lot to think they even give a damn about your life in any way, shape or form. I don't give other people that kind of power in my life and I doubt that many of our patients do either. We're nurses; not God's role modeling gift to the universe.
  12. by   frenchfroggyAPRN
    Six months ago I went to work in the little town hospital where I grew up. when I was young I was very underweight (100 lbs and 5'6") I had an allergic reaction to a cortisone injection and my weight ballooned to 190, now I am at 195. When I talk to my patients about their diets, I tell them what is nutritious and what they should be eating. When asked about my diet, I tell them that I eat lots of salads, grilled meat and try to stay away from all the greasy food that I can. I explain that I work out 2 days a week and do yoga and pilates on those two days. Since I have worked here, I feel better about myself even at the weight I am at, I have better flexibilty than I did before. I have been asked about my weight by patients, and just tell them the truth, I don't always eat like I should.
  13. by   Medic/Nurse
    I don't think the OP meant for this thread to become a, "Well, my ___ is doing just great, despite ___ ...." or whatever. But, hey GREAT and good for all of you that have the success stories.

    I think the intent was to ask if healthcare providers that are overweight/obese (sometimes obviously unhealthy) or smokers (also sometimes obviously unhealthy) set a "bad example" as they care for patients.

    Well, the simple answer is YES. Of course, it is not just a "bad example", but both are proven to have a negative effect on health (yes, I know there are great exceptions, but can't we agree that neither practice ENHANCES health?)

    As a nurse I always offer and place an emphasis on patient education - my solution is that education should always be practiced with empathy. I recognize that it is difficult to stop smoking (I've never smoked - but, I've seen many struggle to quit). I also recognize that reaching a healthy body weight can be a struggle too. I enjoy the feeling that aerobic activity gives me (but I find I have to make the time, at times). I'm aware that it is a struggle for many to get started. Most of us have very demanding lives, and finding the "time" or keeping the motivation can be tough. So I offer education to extent that my patients "want" it. It is always a personal decision.

    Now, to the brass tacks.

    SMOKING - Many hospital campuses are becoming "smoke free". Hurrah!
    I do not smoke. I will avoid being near smokers if at all possible. There are more non-smokers than smokers - so not to open up WWIII here - I think if you want to smoke that's fine. I support free choice in life. But I should not have to alter my practice (by odor or break issues) based on your decision. But, my issues are this --- for the record, I have seen truly excellent clinicians that choose to smoke. This is not a competency issue.

    I cannot imagine being "sick" and trapped in a hospital bed and having my "nurse" who has just been on the "ciggy" break coming in to care for me reeking of cigarettes. The smell alone on the uniform, hair and breath can be overwhelming. And it is proven that "precipitants" from smoke remain on clothes and can provoke RAD and asthma in fragile populations.

    As to my care - I would most likely ask for another nurse to care for me (no kidding - if I'm sick enough to be in the hospital, I'm just sick enough that although I would never be abusive or unkind - the smell just sickens me). Note that I would just be direct about the reason though.

    As to those who smoke and then provide direct care to those "fragile" patients, I guess my question is WHY would you put your patients at risk?

    WEIGHT MATTERS - I've been a bit fluffy before and it does make doing a physical job more difficult. If you think weight DOES NOT impact your practice as a nurse you are wrong. It hurts your knees, hips and heart. I know many an excellent nurse that struggles with weight and most will admit that ...

    What image does it project to the patient and family if every time their "nurse" enters the room they are huffing/puffing and sweaty just as they meet the demands of their job. If moving around the (sometimes very crowded) small patient room becomes a challenge, even as you provide the most basic patient care.

    I think patients (and families) all notice these things - you may be the most excellent of all clinicians, but what would be be like if we cared for ourselves as well as we care for our patients?

    What image would you project?
    What image would you want to project?

    Think about it.

    Stay Safe! Practice Safe! Be Healthy!

close