Wear scrubs in a hospital? Then you're a nurse

  1. I'd like advice and tips on how to better handle the following type of scenerio better.

    I was talking with my mom and several of her sisters the other day. Turns out one of my aunts (not present that day) is going to start a surgical tech certificate program. I knew about this because my aunt had discussed it with me, knowing that I'm going to school to be a nurse. Anyway, one of my aunts didn't know that I knew about it. So she tells me that Aunt Mary is going to become a "surgical nurse in only 8 months." So anyway I said I think that it is fantastic that Aunt Mary is going to become a surgical tech. Then another aunt said no...surgical nurse. So I explained that I think it's great what she's doing - I was just pointing out that Aunt Mary's program isn't a nursing program, it's a surgical tech program. I said that each program is deserving of respect in their own right - they are just different. So it goes on, and I hear things like "she'll be working in the operating room - helping with the patients. Of course she'll be a nurse." To which I said, again, "each is a separate profession deserving of respect. We have many different professions in the hospital such as respiratory therapy, speech therapy, etc. Nobody is better...I'm just saying the jobs are different..she's not going to be a nurse, she's going to be a surgical tech. Legally a nurse is someone who is a licensed LPN or RN." Then I explained that it is such a serious issue that the state board of nursing prosecutes anyone who holds themself out to be a nurse and isn't a licensed nurse.

    Well it ended in a ruckus with one aunt saying I was acting superior to Aunt Mary "who is going to be a surgical nurse!" So I grinned and said "Oh so anyone - read female - in scrubs who works in a hospital helping doctors -read god-like males - is a nurse then?"

    I'm sure I'm not the first to have this sort of conversation. Any tips or extra special ways of explaining this? I should mention that I call (to myself, nobody else!) one of these aunts NE. As in National Enquirer. She thinks in those terms. Not the brightest bulb. She gave me the hairy evil eye the rest of the night. What surprised me is that two of my other aunts seemed mad at me for clarifying that Aunt Mary is going to be a surgical tech and not a nurse.

    Better ways of explaining this?
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  2. 43 Comments

  3. by   EricJRN
    Not necessarily a better way of explaining it, but I have a different way of handling it. If I felt like a distinction of this type needed to be made, I would probably explain it once and then let it go if an argument ensued.

    Doesn't sound like your aunt is really open to correction on this point, and it probably won't hurt anyone to just let her think what she wants.
  4. by   Multicollinearity
    Yeah - NE can and will think what she wants. I guess I was surprised that my other aunts seemed irritated and continued to insist that she'll be a nurse. I thought maybe there would be a better way of explaining this.
  5. by   Gompers
    There are tons of people out there who think this way. They don't understand was nursing really is and have no idea that using the term "nurse" loosely is actually against the law. Do you know how many babies we admit to the NICU where the family informs us that "the mom is a nurse" so then we talk to her like a nurse - use medical terms, etc. When she acts confused, it's then that we come to find out that it's not the mom, it's the aunt or grandmother they meant to say was a "nurse" instead. Okay, fine, but then it comes out that she isn't a nurse either - just works in a nursing home and isn't even a true CNA. But they don't get that there's anything wrong with throwing that term around.

    Must be why visitors sometimes say to us, "So did you have to take a class to be a NICU nurse after high school or something?" and when we explain that we all went to college and many of us have our Bachelor's degrees, they look at us like we're crazy.
  6. by   Multicollinearity
    Quote from Gompers
    There are tons of people out there who think this way. They don't understand was nursing really is and have no idea that using the term "nurse" loosely is actually against the law. Do you know how many babies we admit to the NICU where the family informs us that "the mom is a nurse" so then we talk to her like a nurse - use medical terms, etc. When she acts confused, it's then that we come to find out that it's not the mom, it's the aunt or grandmother they meant to say was a "nurse" instead. Okay, fine, but then it comes out that she isn't a nurse either - just works in a nursing home and isn't even a true CNA. But they don't get that there's anything wrong with throwing that term around.

    Must be why visitors sometimes say to us, "So did you have to take a class to be a NICU nurse after high school or something?" and when we explain that we all went to college and many of us have our Bachelor's degrees, they look at us like we're crazy.
    A class? As in single class after high school?

    I can see that I need to develop a zen-like response to this ignorance and lack of respect. Otherwise I may blow my top.
  7. by   joannep
    Yeah, In fact I think some doctors think that is all it takes to become a nurse! Just a class after high school.
  8. by   sanctuary
    Yup, a couple of weekend classes and a pair of sensible shoes. Step right up, anybody can be a nurse. Had a lady down the block when I was a kid told everybody that she was a nurse, that's why she wore whites all the time. Her sister came to visit, said she worked in a tuna canning factory. :trout:
  9. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Find out what school the 8 months program is at, and obtaining info from it would be a start. If the place is truly legit, it will not say "surgical nurse" but "surgical tech" on paper.

    I'd also print out the section from the state board's site about the use of the word 'nurse' being a protected title.

    Other than that, i'd continue to ask how Aunt Mary's "surgical tech" program is going.
  10. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from multicollinarity
    yeah - ne can and will think what she wants. i guess i was surprised that my other aunts seemed irritated and continued to insist that she'll be a nurse. i thought maybe there would be a better way of explaining this.
    [font="comic sans ms"]your aunts sound like my mother and sister: my mother is always right; my sister is never wrong. even when neither of them knows a damned thing about what they're talking about. don't sweat it. aunt mary herself should straighten them out!
  11. by   Antikigirl
    LOL...have Aunt Mary clarify this! LOL! I am quite sure they will teach her to NOT use the term nurse in her position and she would be the best one to tell her.

    I think I would have gotten a bit ticked at my aunt telling me that my 2-4 years going to RN school to become a professional licensed nurse is secondary in her opinion to someone that took a 8 month course! I would have been like "oh so I overdid and spent all the money in RN school when I should have just gone to that school and gotten all that education in 8 months instead? I must not know what I am talking about then huh? Grrrrrrr!". LOL!
  12. by   ortess1971
    Sadly, some people will never get it...I have had family members ask me why I became "only a nurse" when I could have gone to med school. You can try to tell some people until you're blue in the face and they still don't get it. I think Marie's idea of referring to your Aunt's program by it's proper name is a good one. What drives me batty is when nurses refer to themselves as "just a nurse". This happened the other day and I nicely called the person on it. If we don't respect our profession, how can we expect others to?
  13. by   slou!
    My mom is an X-Ray/Mammo/Cat Scan TECH, and people call her a nurse all the time. She always explains that although she does work in a hospital and does wear scrubs, she is NOT a nurse, and she is a TECH! Family members are always calling her asking her to diagnose their problems, and she is always explaining that she is NOT a nurse or a doctor, simply a tech. Not that I'm saying it's anything below a nurse, because I know how hard she worked to get to where she is at, but she is just simply not a nurse, which isn't a bad thing ofcorse. One time she got pulled over and I was with her (tail light was out which was actually my fault since it was my car at the time ) and the cop said he wouldn't give her a ticket because he really respects nurses. (She had her scrubs on.) My mom then proceeds to tell him that she isn't a nurse, and explained what she did and he said he respected her profession too! I mean I guess how could he say, "Well in that case, you get a ticket then!" That's my honest mother for you! Her patients are also always trying to get them to diagnose their problems, even after she explains the doctor will be in shorty..

    Now me, I wish it were that easy! Just put on scrubs and walk around a hospital, really, that's all I have to do?! Then why am I going to college and paying all this money? (I'm not saying your aunt is saying this is easy, this is just directed torwards people who think anyone with scrubs is a nurse!)
  14. by   Multicollinearity
    Quote from Marie_LPN
    Find out what school the 8 months program is at, and obtaining info from it would be a start. If the place is truly legit, it will not say "surgical nurse" but "surgical tech" on paper.

    I'd also print out the section from the state board's site about the use of the word 'nurse' being a protected title.

    Other than that, i'd continue to ask how Aunt Mary's "surgical tech" program is going.
    Actually the school isn't misrepresenting the program. My ignorant aunts are. And they don't even know it. Because of course any woman who works at a hospital helping the (((doctors))) with the patients is a nurse! Doncha know?

    *their mentality
    Last edit by Multicollinearity on Oct 30, '06

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