'Unhealthy' nurses...bad examples? - page 8

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   Cyndee, MSN, NP
    Quote from Josh L.Ac.
    Agreed. We might argue about what standards the fashion industry is trying to convey, but it is the designer's product and they can market them as they like.

    Here lies the source of the conflict. Is being "fit" and a non-smoker an important attribute for nursing, or is it irrelevant?

    If we subscribe to the idea that nurses are human and have the right to their vices (smoking, eating, not exercising), then by default we would have to agree that patients are human too (and have the right to their vices too). This would mean that judging the patient's behavior as being counterproductive to their health be inappropriate, since after all, it is their right to have their vices.

    Another implication would be if the patient sees an overweight nurse and feels this disqualifies them to provide adequate care, then it would be perfectly acceptable for the patient to request a new nurse. We might think it is wrong, but then who are we to judge, since they are entitled to their opinion?

    I think I just slipped into a "medical autonomy" argument without realizing it. I was trying to parallel the "our lifestyle as nurses is irrelevant" with the "my lifestyle as a patient is irrelevant", but I fumbled it and failed miserably. Many apologies.

    Great avatar BTW.
    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!
  2. by   Josh L.Ac.
    Quote from ktwlpn
    There is one glaring difference-we are talking about patients in hospital probably BECAUSE because of their smoking or obesity while we are dragging our somewhat fat,smoking butts up and down the hall.(if we are addressing these issues with these pts. then they are likely having health problems as a direct result of them -how many times have you had a patient in for an appendectomy and lectured them about their weight or smoking?) These people are probably having trouble holding their jobs or are on disability....Pts have the right to their vices and I don't think we are "judging" them when we say to a COPD'er that seem to be popping up more and more frequently--"You know-if you quit smoking now ...etc" By the time you get to the mid to late stages of these chronic diseases caused by smoking,obesity,alcoholism you well know you have done it to yourself. No surprises for these pts. Not much sense in beating the dead horse at that stage in IMHO.These pts. used to really bother me " Turn off my Oxxy, honey while I smoke" then I realized the pt likely is half dead-why stop the only pleasure they have?

    I readily admit there is a difference between the unhealthy vices that lead patients to the hospital and a nurse that seems healthy but has the same vices.

    Or is there?

    Maybe the main difference is the that the patient is in the acute or chronic stage of an illness (which is why they are at the hospital), and the nurse is just in a prediagnostic or diagnostic stage of an illness [caused by the same vice].

    Kinda of a trip when you step back and think about it.
    Last edit by Josh L.Ac. on Sep 19, '06
  3. by   Cyndee, MSN, NP
    [quote=Unfortunately, in the world we live in right now you will find people who do make snap judgments based on appearance, and a common one is that overweight=unhealthy. Just don't let it stop you. Like an earlier poster said, work on your own emotional health so that you can deal with such attitudes and not let it drag you down. :wink2:[/quote]

    I agree. It may not be right and it may not be fair, but it happens all the time. I have a friend who is a PA and she is morbidly obese. She lost out on a big job with an orthopedic surgeon precisely because she is overweight. Of course, he didn't tell her that, but she found out from another PA who's employeed there. Most physicians are into being fit and they just aren't going to hire employees who don't fit the "health" mold.
  4. by   nurse_clown
    Quote from casemanager1947
    yes too, i am overweight, like several other posters have mentioned. but, my dear, i was thin and much healthier until i developed ra and three level disc disease, whereupon exercise became impossible, due to pain. i am looking at having wls next year, to save my life. just because i am heavy, doesn't mean i'm happy with that either. but likely for an entirely different set of reasons. so if you're young and 21 or 23 years old, exercise now whilst you still can.
    [font="comic sans ms"]two years ago, i was overweight. my legs and feet hurt after work. then i hurt my back. i was only picking up an i.v. pump off the floor. the doc told me not to stay in bed but walk, walk, walk. so i did. and with a little stress, extra shifts, little to eat and sleep, i lost 45 pounds. i have more energy and i can actually sleep eight hours straight. i also got a dog! sometimes, when i have time, i lift those 5lb weights to make my arms stronger. i still eat chocolate and chips. every now and then, i'll go out and get flat on my face drunk. i like having fun. to me, fun is important. but i got a job to do. when i hurt my back, my life changed drastically and i experienced pain and agony like i never felt before. i couldn't work and that was horrible too. i have two part time jobs without benefits. that was a very humbling experience for me and i can't take life for granted anymore. at work, i see some of my coworkers who struggle because of bad knees or sore backs from workplace injuries. i know my back injury was because my stomach muscles were too weak to support my back muscles. (i learned that from the physiotherapist and chiropractor.) i love working and i want to continue. i was a real pain to my family at home. i was really drugged at the beginning too. so yeah, i never want that to happen again. or at least not for a long time. so as a result of the small "lifestyle" change i made, i lost a lot of weight. so, i can do a lot of the extra lifting and stooping etc for my fellow nurse. i can race for the call-bells if they are busy with their paperwork. everyone's happy! :wink2:
  5. by   CHATSDALE
    i have lived in california---hyperantidiscrimination may be a mouthful but i didn't notice it more or less there than in other places i have lived
  6. by   vermonthiker
    We just had this discussion in school. I was never a smoker and remember as an aid when other aids would often go outside for smoking breaks. Sometimes the nurses would go too leaving me (at age 16) alone with an entire floor of pts!!

    I've been thin, overweight, and normal weight. I've seen first hand how I'm treated much better in general by the public the smaller I am.

    I don't agree with discrimination of overweight/obese people or smokers. With that said, I do think it's hypocritical to tell a pt one thing and do the opposite.

    Over two years ago I created a diet and exercise plan that I knew would work for me. I lost 80lbs and kept it off. My friend who is a nurse and very obese critized my plan to no end. I didn't listen to her because it didn't make sense to take her advice - even knowing her credentials.

    I have pock marks on my face because as a teenager I scrubbed my acne until it bled. I would never work in a dermatologist's office simply because I don't think patients would take my advice about care for the skin seriously. Even if I knew what I was talking about, why would they listen?
  7. by   nuangel1
    Quote from mjlrn97
    We're straying a little far off-topic here, so please allow me to redirect it with a couple of thoughts:

    1) Nurses are human, with the same sorts of hang-ups and quirks as everyone else. In a way, I think this actually adds to our credibility with patients, as we can share what we've learned from our own struggles with bad habits. I've found that most people do listen to those who have "been there, done that".

    2) Cultural standards of physical beauty really have no place in a discussion about nursing competence (or lack thereof). Who CARES what a nurse looks like, as long as he or she can do the job? JMHO.
  8. by   vermonthiker
    Quote from SillyLilly

    I always laugh though, at when we have inservices or meetings or anything like that in a hospital, they always serve us Pop, Cookies, Chips, Donuts.......

    Such a great point! Hospital food is awful enough for pts, the food offered to employees is worse! I know my local hospital has different junk food every Friday - make your own sundaes etc.
  9. by   NancyNurse27
    Quote from fifi2323
    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 do their jobs,which has nothing to do with physical appearance or vices.

    Its common knowledge that smoking and/or obesity can kill you,but I would think those in the healthcare field would have a more acute idea of how health is jeopardized by these things. I am asking one out of curiousity,and secondly because I myself am overweight. I was just wondering if anybody has ever gotten any flak from patients or higher-ups? Or do you feel you aren't taken as seriously because of how you look,or because you need a cigarette break? I hope this hasn't happened,since its discriminatory and wrong,but we all know that doesn't mean much!

    First of all, I think the original post got lost in the mix here. She was asking people who are OVERWEIGHT AND/OR SMOKERS who also happen to be nurses if they had gotten any flak, not opinions on whether or not overweight smoking nurses were competent.
    SO, as an overweight nurse who occasionally smokes, the answer is No, i've not gotten any flak about my weight or my smoking. However, overweight people are often made fun of or cornered and told "You're so pretty, if you could just lose some weight, you would look so much better." So of course you are going to deal with that as a nurse sometimes too because nurses are human, doctors are human, management is human and our patients are human. And we all have vices and no one is perfect. Also, how many patients have you educated about the danger of smoking and being overweight and have gone home and kept on smoking and not lost any weight? Our jobs as nurses is to educate patients, yet the ultimate decision weighs with the patient. If my patients don't take me as a credible source of information that's their choice.
    So as a nurse I know my dangers of smoking and being obese. I unfortunately have decided that right now I am not going to quit smoking and haven't gotten serious about losing weight. I hope this helps. But it's your decision...
  10. by   Cyndee, MSN, NP
    Quote from Josh L.Ac.
    So it is okay to discriminate against a group for setting a bad example because they have a low BMI, but not fair to do it to a group that has a high one?
    There are a heck of a lot more people dying from being overweight than underweight.
  11. by   jrbl77
    i haven't read all the replies on this subject, but i for one am an overweight nurse and i feel that my job hasn't helped this at all. eating on the run if at all and exhausted when i go home from work. some days hardly time to go to the bathroom. i have just joined the y and have been excersing- i do feel better. am starting a new job next week, see how things go with that.hope to keep up the excersie routine.
  12. by   CHATSDALE
    some people are overweight . i am undertall
  13. by   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