6 Reasons Why Nurses Are No-Cape Heroes

Nurses will brush off the idea that they are heroes.  In fact, many nurses go their entire career without being in the public eye or receiving an award.  But nurses routinely demonstrate on-the-job heroic qualities. This article is written to celebrate the everyday nurse hero. Nurses General Nursing Article

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6 Reasons Why Nurses Are No-Cape Heroes

The nursing profession is brimming with larger-than-life nurse heroes. The kind of nurse heroes who advocate and bring change to local, regional and even global communities. The kind of nurse heroes who bravely serve our country and who save lives during natural disasters. These nurse contributions certainly fit the definition of a hero; someone who gives of themselves, often putting their own lives at great risk for the greater good of others.

The majority of nurses don't have careers that rise to the level of a "larger-than-life" nurse hero. Nurses may go their entire career and never receive an award, honor or other recognition of extreme bravery. However, it is the overlooked everyday hero that is the foundation of the nursing profession. This article is written in celebration of what makes nurses everyday heroes.

Quote

"A hero is someone who voluntarily walks into the unknown.” -Tom Hanks

Heroes Genuinely Care About Others

According to researchers, people with heroic tendencies have much higher levels of empathy. Nurses care for patients in pain and suffering and are able to "walk a mile" in the patient's shoes. Often burdened with mental and physical fatigue, nurses are steadfast in compassionately providing comfort and ensuring patient safety. We bring kindness to patients when they are most vulnerable.

Nurses Take and Keep Control

In the chaos that often surrounds healthcare, nurses can bring things together, keep it together and make it happen. Heroes quickly anticipate and address problems while paying close attention to even the smallest details. Whether facing a life or death situation or troubleshooting the unexpected, nurses understand the importance of a clear mind and calm response.

Nurses Have Great Sense of Humor

Sure, Iron Man is funny and Wonder Woman makes me smile. However, nurses make great use of comedic laughter. Research has shown humor can boost the immune system and laughter improves cardiovascular health. Nurses take it one step further and use humor to deal with tremendous on-the-job stressors. What better to find creative solutions to complex problems than with a little comic relief? Also, the rewards that come with putting a smile on the face of someone who is scared and anxious is priceless.

Nurses Are Vigilant Protectors

Nurses are rigorous and assertive in providing safe care to patients. They also leap into action when patient safety is compromised. Here are just a few ways nurses protect patients in providing routine care:

  • Take ownership and action when something is wrong
  • Don't give up until patient is protected or stabilized
  • Focus on the details of complex and changing clinical pictures
  • Listen to concerns of patients and caregivers
  • Carefully monitor patients before, during and after procedures
  • Meticulously administer medications and treatments

Nurses routinely go up "the chain of command" to safeguard those they care for.

Nurses Don't Know They Are Heroes

As you read this article, you may be thinking , "I just really don't think I am a hero". The truth? Most nurses don't. With humility, most nurses would simply say, "I am just doing my job". But nurses care for others as they would their own loved ones and carry the strength needed to heal in demanding environments.

Nurses Handle the Gag-Worthy

OK, so it is not actually the ability to handle what grosses other people out that makes nurses everyday heroes. It is how nurses gracefully deal with the disgusting. Always the protector, nurses use controlled responses to compassionately safeguard the dignity of others. Even everyday nurse heroes experience pangs of stomach queasiness with certain sights, sounds and odors. However, the nurse does not allow her discomfort to show and that is what makes them heroes.

Is it likely you were drawn to this profession because a nurse touched or inspired you at some point in your life?

Tell us about your everyday nurse hero.

(Columnist)

J. Adderton MSN has over 20 years experience in clinical leadership, staff development, project management and nursing education.

121 Articles   499 Posts

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SmilingBluEyes

20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

I liked the essay.

I don't consider myself a hero. I do what I am educated and paid to. I was not called to the profession necessarily; I wanted a stable career and to earn a decent living. Don't mistake me; I do care for my patients. But I  do not wrap my identity into nursing. I consider ancillary staff and assistitive personnel my heroes actually.

When I am at work; I am 100% on all cylinders. But when I am home I am definitely at home.

CheesePotato, BSN, RN

10 Articles; 254 Posts

Specializes in Sleep medicine,Floor nursing, OR, Trauma.

I appreciate what you wrote and how you wrote it.  I mean that very genuinely.  I know you have a great message of appreciation and want to uplift nursing and assure folks that their efforts matter and are important.  And I don’t disagree that it is nice to know that there is an impact even if we do not recognize it in the moment. 

I wish to preface everything I am about to say with the following: This is merely my opinion.

I wish, with all my little clogged heart, that no one ever views me as a hero.  Because viewing me as a hero strips me of something that is invaluable to me: my humanity. 

Heroes are viewed as unshakable, infallible, and larger than life.

But I am shakable.  I have suffered burn-out.  I have had moments of care with sounds that won’t leave my head and smells that won’t leave my nose and sights I can never unsee.  I have been saddened and angered at the outcomes a patient has suffered.  I have been saddened and angered by the treatment I have suffered.

I am fallible.  I have made mistakes.  I have failed to prioritize perfectly.  I have failed to organize. I have failed to recognize an issue. 

I am not larger than life.   I am someone trying to pay their bills doing a job they happen to appreciate doing.  This is not my core identity.  This is my job.  And there have been many…..many times that I have hated it. 

Why does this matter?  Because we, as a healthcare system—greater than just nursing—are in crisis and it will only get worse as things progress with Covid and in the years that follow. We are a population that needs help—both physical in the way of staffing and stronger legislation that support ratio caps and mental in the way we are not recognized and supported by our healthcare system as an at risk population for mental health concerns.  And we have not even begun to see the tip of the iceberg of the attrition and mental health fallout from Covid.

I don’t want to be a hero.  I don’t want to leap helipads in a single bound while deflecting CIWA patient’s fists with the power of my iron-clad bladder (because god knows I haven’t used the bathroom in 9 hours).  I don’t want to sustain myself from a single drop of dew like the Dragon Warrior. 

I don’t want people to honk their horns every day at 1900 or ring cow bells. I don’t want t-shirts that say “Nurses call the shots”.  I want change. 

I want people to see me and every one of my brothers, sisters, and folks in healthcare as humans that are working in conditions that should be outright alarming.  We, who are working without enough PPE—who are working without enough hands to properly position a patient—that have waded through the muck and mire of healthcare reform and staffing cuts and hiring freezes and diminished stock room supplies and have been physically harmed by patients and are expected to go home, dust it off, and come back for more. 

And when people stop viewing that through the lens of “hero” and start seeing it through the lens of just another job—I hope people are outright pissed.  They should be, after all.  The whole of the situation ultimately impacts them (and all of us) as potential patients.  And yet, oddly, there isn’t any anger.  The situation is, at most, a footnote, casually mentioned trailing a fluff piece about a singing parrot before the talking heads simply look to another camera and all is forgotten.

Because viewing the situation with a hero mentality blunts the ugly of it.   It’s hard to worry about a burning building if you have Superman on speed dial.  But the moment you take a hero out of the equation—that same burning building is suddenly a big deal.

That being said, I am aware that this profession is a choice.  And I always did say that I would be a weatherman whenever I got done with this nursing gig (Every forecast of mine would be “variable cloudiness” which is truly just weather-talk for “I have no @#$% idea what’s gonna happen”.)  Alas for now this pays the bills and I am too old to change direction.  Besides—it’s not all bad.

~~CP~~

JBMmom, MSN, NP

4 Articles; 2,467 Posts

Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC.

You wrote a very nice article pointing out many of the things that nurses do every day. I appreciate that the some of the things I do might be something that someone else finds deserving of respect or praise. However, I don't consider myself to be a hero. I chose a career for a variety of reasons and I'm glad that I have the skillset to provide care for critically ill people. Over the past year that has put me in danger of contracting a potentially very serious illness and I'm fortunate that it has not. However, I'm still no hero. To me, heroes are people thrown into situations beyond their control that take actions that beyond what might be considered in their best interest. Like people that pull a stranger out of a burning car on the side of the road. I'm doing a job that I chose and I'm paid to do. I love my job. I do not love the bureaucracy that I have to deal with every day. I do not love that we are viewed, in many case, by employers, as the single largest expense in their business instead of what could be their largest asset if given the chance to do our jobs fully. Instead of being paid for what my employer finds to be "essential", basically allotting the minimum amount of time it should take to pass medications and provide basic treatment, if I were paid with consideration for all that I could do with more time to focus on my patients, that would make my job even better. However, for now I'm happy to have a job that I enjoy that has kept me employed in a time of uncertainty for so many others. 

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,342 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years).

Two definitions of a hero to which I am drawn are:

"A hero is no braver than an ordinary (person), but ...brave five minutes longer." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Joseph Campbell said that “One of the many distinctions between the celebrity and the hero, is that one lives for self, while the other acts to redeem society".

We are all heros, several times in our lives, to somebody.

sevensonnets

975 Posts

I've found some REAL heroes: The Legacy Emanuel Critical Care Transport team in Portland. I love you all! Seven.

direw0lf, BSN

1,069 Posts

2 hours ago, CheesePotato said:

I appreciate what you wrote and how you wrote it.  I mean that very genuinely.  I know you have a great message of appreciation and want to uplift nursing and assure folks that their efforts matter and are important.  And I don’t disagree that it is nice to know that there is an impact even if we do not recognize it in the moment. 

I wish to preface everything I am about to say with the following: This is merely my opinion.

I wish, with all my little clogged heart, that no one ever views me as a hero.  Because viewing me as a hero strips me of something that is invaluable to me: my humanity. 

Heroes are viewed as unshakable, infallible, and larger than life.

But I am shakable.  I have suffered burn-out.  I have had moments of care with sounds that won’t leave my head and smells that won’t leave my nose and sights I can never unsee.  I have been saddened and angered at the outcomes a patient has suffered.  I have been saddened and angered by the treatment I have suffered.

I am fallible.  I have made mistakes.  I have failed to prioritize perfectly.  I have failed to organize. I have failed to recognize an issue. 

I am not larger than life.   I am someone trying to pay their bills doing a job they happen to appreciate doing.  This is not my core identity.  This is my job.  And there have been many…..many times that I have hated it. 

Why does this matter?  Because we, as a healthcare system—greater than just nursing—are in crisis and it will only get worse as things progress with Covid and in the years that follow. We are a population that needs help—both physical in the way of staffing and stronger legislation that support ratio caps and mental in the way we are not recognized and supported by our healthcare system as an at risk population for mental health concerns.  And we have not even begun to see the tip of the iceberg of the attrition and mental health fallout from Covid.

I don’t want to be a hero.  I don’t want to leap helipads in a single bound while deflecting CIWA patient’s fists with the power of my iron-clad bladder (because god knows I haven’t used the bathroom in 9 hours).  I don’t want to sustain myself from a single drop of dew like the Dragon Warrior. 

I don’t want people to honk their horns every day at 1900 or ring cow bells. I don’t want t-shirts that say “Nurses call the shots”.  I want change. 

I want people to see me and every one of my brothers, sisters, and folks in healthcare as humans that are working in conditions that should be outright alarming.  We, who are working without enough PPE—who are working without enough hands to properly position a patient—that have waded through the muck and mire of healthcare reform and staffing cuts and hiring freezes and diminished stock room supplies and have been physically harmed by patients and are expected to go home, dust it off, and come back for more. 

And when people stop viewing that through the lens of “hero” and start seeing it through the lens of just another job—I hope people are outright pissed.  They should be, after all.  The whole of the situation ultimately impacts them (and all of us) as potential patients.  And yet, oddly, there isn’t any anger.  The situation is, at most, a footnote, casually mentioned trailing a fluff piece about a singing parrot before the talking heads simply look to another camera and all is forgotten.

Because viewing the situation with a hero mentality blunts the ugly of it.   It’s hard to worry about a burning building if you have Superman on speed dial.  But the moment you take a hero out of the equation—that same burning building is suddenly a big deal.

That being said, I am aware that this profession is a choice.  And I always did say that I would be a weatherman whenever I got done with this nursing gig (Every forecast of mine would be “variable cloudiness” which is truly just weather-talk for “I have no @#$% idea what’s gonna happen”.)  Alas for now this pays the bills and I am too old to change direction.  Besides—it’s not all bad.

~~CP~~

I agree with everything said here including that the OP was nicely written and a good sentiment. I don't want to be considered a hero because then I would be placed at higher standards than what I am and what I'm capable of doing...I'm a nurse doing my job and I try to do it the best I can. I will not put myself at more risk than I already do though, I feel like a hero would. I kept saying "yes" to being asked to work OT, to the point I was doing 4 weeks in a row of 5 12s each week, and I had to stop that and go back to just 3 12s a week for a while. I feel like calling myself a hero would imply I could do anything, like endless 5 12s in a row, because I'm a hero who will risk my health. I'm really not a hero. There seem to be some nurses who are. One nurse dropped everything and moved to NYC to work during the first wave of covid. I am not so great and don't always want to be.

Hmm all that said just this morning I was wishing I could do missionary nursing for a couple weeks. Guess I just don't want to be a hero all the time LOL.

Chronic Care Coordinator

spotangel, DNP, RN, NP

24 Articles; 518 Posts

Specializes in ED, Tele, MedSurg, ADN, Outpatient, LTC, Peds.

Even through the frustration we power on. Everyone wants to tell us what to do but when the s**** hits the ceiling who do they come to ask what to do? THE NURSE!

Cue cowbells, honking, cheers , billboards etc etc!

I would trade that for a porta potty and a  90 day supply of TMP-SMZ with a refill!

Gousterman

3 Posts

Specializes in Navy Corpsman - Vietnam war.

Hi, whether you believe Nurses are heroes or not ( I do myself) I've written a song /music video to honor you!!

https://Youtube.com/watch?v=pGTjdkEy_Fs music video
https://soundcloud.com/waltcronin/in-this-time free download
#CovidHealthCareWorkers #frontlineworkers #Nurses #Americana
Much Thanks,
Walt
MP3 available
www.thegousters.com

 

 

Guest856929

486 Posts

The barometer for heroism is very low nowadays. A nurse is no more of a hero than a mailman. 

pinkdoves, BSN

163 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics, NICU.

I do not agree that we are heroes and for some reason this sentiment makes me slightly angry. I think managers use this excuse to pile more garbage on us and say "thank you for all you do! heroes work here!" and then continue to overwork us and tell us we're not doing enough the next second. We are severely underpaid for being "heroes". I am not falling for this BS ... 

sevensonnets

975 Posts

In my area, what passes for journalism these days proclaimed at the start of this pandemic that teachers are the real heroes although at the time they were all being heroes from home. No offense to any of you I love you all, but I needed more nurses, not algebra teachers. I do think Amazon delivery guys come close to being heroes, minus the one who delivered a mini fridge to my front porch meant for my neighbor, but he should get kudos for hauling it up the steps and doing it in reverse 4 hours later. I thanked him for his service.

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