Lack of respect for nurses

  1. Hi everyone. I'm very frustrated with the lack of knowledge of the general public of what being a nurse means. My own mother doesn't even seem to get it. When I told my father that I had been accepted into the nursing program he seemed excited, but before getting off the phone he asked, "So do you think you'll become a doctor some day?" If I wanted to be a doctor, I would go to med school. Being a doctor and being a nurse are two totally different things. A nurse is not a step-down from a doctor. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that doctor's aren't necessary or that they don't deserve respect for their knowledge because they absolutely are necessary, and they do deserve every bit of respect they've earned. I just think that nurses deserve respect too, so much more than they get. People just have no idea what being a nurse is all about. I hate the perception that all nurses do is change bedpans, bring patients something to drink ,and follow doctor's orders. I mean, yes, these things are part of the job and I don't mind doing them, but there is so much more to it. The problem is, I don't even know how to put into words the job of a nurse. How can I explain to people what nurses do and the amount of knowledge required to perform their jobs? Any suggestions? Is anyone else frustrated by this, or is it just me and should I just not care about what everyone else thinks? Thanks for letting me vent.
  2. Visit nicuRN2007 profile page

    About nicuRN2007

    Joined: Feb '05; Posts: 284; Likes: 17
    RN in NICU


  3. by   VegRN
    I recommend Suzanne Gordon's books, she speaks to the frustrations that you feel. She isn't even a nurse but she is a journalist who is a big advocate of nursing and realizes the importance of it.
    It is hard to describe what nurses do. I am having trouble myself. I think there is another thread on this, describing what nurses do and they put it better than I can. Nurses are pt advocates, nurses assess and monitor interventions, nurses also care. And doctors do end up getting a lot of credit for things we do like suggesting changes in the care plan, saving a pts life when the take a turn for the worse, catching errors etc.
    I am sorry that you feel this way. I get frustrated at this too.
  4. by   nicuRN2007
    I will definitely check out those books. Thanks for your reply and letting me know I'm not the only one frustrated by this.
  5. by   gabijunebuggy
    Hello. My name is Gabi. I am a senior in high school and I would like to be a nurse. I am doing a project for my english class right now and I reall like this post and I was wondering if I could know your name so I could use this for my project, and I also would like to interview you, if that's alright. Please let me know.
    Thank You.
  6. by   wannabesedated
    Quote from nicuRN2007
    Being a doctor and being a nurse are two totally different things. A nurse is not a step-down from a doctor.
    I agree with everything you say and have also experienced the comments "you're so smart, why don't you be a doctor?" I usually respond something along the lines of, "Wouldn't you want to have a smart nurse?"
    I just want to remind you though that many nurses ARE doctors of nursing.
    I prefer to use the term physician when meaning medical doctor, because there are many types of doctors.
    I am a huge advocate of not using doctor to mean physician.
    Dr. Smith, the physician, surgeon, cardiologist
    Dr. Smith, the NP, CNS, PNP
    Dr. Smith, the dentist
    Doctor is a title, not a career.
  7. by   Chewie_123
    I've always thought it would be fun to get a doctorate in nursing, one of the benefits being that it would really confuse people.
    Suzanne Gordon's books are great! Especially for someone who is considering nursing - they give you a down and dirty look at the profession. My suggestion is to start small. Make it your mission in life to make your dad "get" your job, then go from there.
  8. by   JomoNurse
    My family makes fun of me for being a nurse. They don't even know what an RN stands for or does. I was at dinner the other night and my brother said to me "So, wipe any goodlooking a$$ lately?"

    Unfortunately, nurses will always have to defend themselves!
  9. by   Tait
    I just tell people I keep the doctors from killing them.

    The only resistance I got about my RN was from my father who thought I would have lots of extra time for a second a job only working three days a week. A few dinner conversations about codes, cardioversions and catheters and he never mentioned it again.

  10. by   justavolunteer
    One of the things that I have learned as 'justavolunteer' is that nursing is REALLY hard work! Turning patients, helping them to a chair, etc. can be exhausting after awhile. Sometimes I help with this. I'm exhausted sometimes after 2 or 3 hours, never mind the 12 hours of a nurse.
    Another thing that most people don't realize is just how smart one has to be a nurse! The amount of knowledge required for the job is unreal to me, even after several years as 'justavolunteer'. I probably wouldn't be smart enough to do their job, even though I have technical skills in a different area.
  11. by   pageygirl
    I know just yesterday three nurses came in to help put an obese woman on the bedpan as the son said "lets let them do thier job." I was the only one offended by this/
  12. by   abbaking
    I had a friend once who thought that nursing was fairly easy. When i told her that my 12-hour shift is very hectic and tiresome, she thought i was lying and seem skeptical. When I told her that her job as a movie theatre usher for 5 hours a day seemed like childs play compared to my 12-hours, she got offended. Its easy for people to class nursing into an "easy" job and no-skill-required profession.
    The longer I work in nursing the more convinced I am that people will never fully understand how much responsibility, education, critical thinking and work ethic are needed in this career. That old friend of mine made me think about how lazy and stereotyped nursing is seen as a profession. The general public seems to think that we are uneducated, handmaids, gay men, over-sexed bimbo's, and Angels. There is no in-between.
  13. by   maxthecat
    I think part of the problem is that the public doesn't see the critical thinking, doesn't hear the conversations that take place between doctor and nurse, doesn't realize the knowledge based required--they see someone pushing a button, raising the head of the bed--they see the tasks, not the thinking behind the tasks. When we say to a patient, "you need to think about making wiser food choices," and then review a teaching sheet with them, they think we are just reading off a sheet prepared by a doctor. It doesn't occur to them that we have the knowledge base to know they need this teaching even though the doctor hasn't ordered it yet and that we developed the teaching sheet ourselves. We just follow orders.

    So then what do we do? I know that years ago, before I became a nurse, when I was a patient in the hospital, I thought of nurses as the ones who handed out pills, changed the IV's, and kept me comfortable. And that's all I wanted to know about them. I would have been annoyed if someone had tried to point out to me how much intelligence and education it takes to be a nurse, and frankly, I wouldn't have listened. I would have assumed that nurse must not be very secure in her abilities and intelligence if she had to point them out to me. Many of you come from nursing families. I did not and I was ignorant about what nurses do. But...I DID NOT WANT to be educated, least of all educated by a nurse!

    Maybe if we could ever get a documentary with background commentary on what is going on in a nurses's mind when he or she interacts with and assesses a patient, what goes into decisions a nurse make, that might help educate some. I just fear that if we as nurses try to do this we come off as very insecure professionals indeed.
  14. by   callmekipling
    I have had this happen to me. I prefer to say, and you may quote me on this

    "The details are technical and boring to someone uninvolved in the field.. Needless to say it's more involved than you may think."

    And then maybe wow them with a discussion of clotting factors, electrolytes, fluid balance, and the massive monolithic migraine that is med administration.

    Though lately I've been thinking (channeling betty neuman here) that doctors focus on treating an ailment, where nurses promote wellness in general. We double check what the doctors do, while keeping an eye on everything else. Is that legit, ya think?