Published May 14, 2002
what do you think makes nursing unique?
last night i started thinking about nursing school, and this question popped into my head. my professor asked us this question but didn't like a single answer we had. she was always able to switch it to another profession. so, i thought i would ask all of you intelligent nurses and nurses to be.
I believe it's your own uniqueness you give to the profession.
What's unique about nursing is how we take knowledge from so many other disciplines and apply it to our own.
What is unique about Nurses is that only we can do what we do. Doctors doctor, aides aid. Bankers bank, car dealers sell cars. The closest thing to being a nurse is a mother, I think.
What is unigue about nursing is that as a nurse, you don't can't hurl insults back...no matter who awful they are, you can't decide not to care for someone just because they hurt you, physically, or emotionally, and all the while you must smile at them...and seek to care for them whether they wish your help or not. You still worry about them long after they have left your care....no matter how ugly that have been. No matter that you're at the end of your rope because you have 7 or 8 or even 10 others to care for at the same time! With everyone thinking you're their own personal assistant. You're responsible for the care that they receive...and must be aware of what is appropriate for their care, even though you don't have a medical degree...and years of internship. You must advocate for their needs and the needs of their families. You're still expected to know all...and do all...and be all....with very little time...many times very little support.... or respect, ...for not near enough pay...except for a Thank you ...now and again. JMHO
I think it has to do with the intimacy of our profession. Think about it: We see people at their most vulnerable. We can make or break whatever dignity they have left. We have their very lives in our hands. Sure some of us have a more intense life or death kind of deal because of our work setting but, and I say this to the suits in various committee meetings all the time, we are not making lunch boxes here. If we don't get it right the first time we screw up the lives of many from one mistake.
We also don't tend to look at "class" or income levels like so many other professions do. I don't care if you are a celebrity or a homeless person with no one in this world that gives a rat's butt about you, if you need a trach or a specific medication, or just an advocate, I will be there in the faces of the beaurocrats for you every step of the way. We deal with all segments of society. We have to know everything about every disease and disorder. There is nothing else like what we do! We are treated like dirt and not paid anyway near enough what our skill and knowledge level are worth and those are the very things that separate the people who are in it for the money (sure!!!!) or convience and those of us that really want to do what we do to help people.
Ok I will bite: How many workers take on **SUCH HUGE LIABILITY AND RESPONSILBILITY** in their day- to- day work for comparitively LITTLE pay? The military is the only comparison I can draw off the top of my head; whereby one PERSON (so low in the hierarchy) can be responsible for millions of $$$ in equipment and, more importantly, lives can be at stake in their day-to-day work and yet they get literally peanuts in pay and bennies in return.
As a small example; I am the one w/the college degree and do what I do...my sister has no degree, but worked her way up to branch manager in an electronics firm, making roughly 2.5 times what I do, with 60 days paid vacation a year. Interestingly, a" bad day in the office " for her may mean a lost account and perhaps, lots of money--- but ---- not a lost HUMAN LIFE! See, as a nurse, you got to be DEVOTED to what you do, beyond tangible compensation; you got to love what you DO! Anyhow, in nursing and the military, I find that willingness to take on such grave liability and the devotion that goes with it, in themselves, "UNIQUE"!
How about throwing them this dumb, but not entirely dumb quote. "Never forget that you are unique, just like everybody else!"
"Never forget you are unique, just like everybody else"
nursing is unique.............
but humanity is uniquer'(is this a word)
How many other jobs are there where the employer is demented yet has the "right" to direct the "employee" in the job duties, yet neither the employer nor employee is in control, but rather standards of practice are the determining factor?
How many other jobs where the "employee" is expected to handle the employer's body fluids and related physical, mental, emotional, psychic, familial, financial, material, and karmic $#!+ with a smile while maintaining "discrete" universal precautions covering every area?
How many other jobs where if the employee obeys the employer, the employee is likely to end up in jail and the employer in a coffin?
How many other jobs where the employee must do everything, advertise, set up the job, do all tasks, management, paperwork, everything -- because if the employer were able to do any of that, the employee would not need to be hired in the first place?
The list is endless for this strange limbo nook of nursing known as in-home caregiving!
shannonRN, BSN, RN
brownms46, i have to say i totally agree with your post, but unfortunately there are nurses out there that stop caring and hurl insults back. personally, i could never do that.
fedup, i hear you on the mistake issue. we recently had a very public med error at one of our local hospitals. i was talking about it with my fiancee's family and their response was that mistake shouldn't have happened. my reply was that is why it was a
mistake. and to think how many mistakes a day they make, but they are not dealing with life and death matters.
smiling, so much responsbility...so little pay. it sucks, but i LOVE what i do. my fiancee's sis is working as a receptionist in some office making pay comparable to mine, awesome hours, the whole nine years. it really upsets me that nurses are treated like dirt!
cascadians, "How many other jobs where if the employee obeys the employer, the employee is likely to end up in jail and the employer in a coffin? " excellent point!!
thanks for all the replies. if anyone else out there has an opinion i would be glad to hear it. :)
The fact that we can't come up with one singular answer to define ourselves is in itself, unique, not unlike the profession. There is no pat reason to become a nurse. There is no one way to describe a nurse. To attempt to do so brings about every facet of humanity. Every possible good thing you can think of, and in some instances, every bad thing you can imagine from sadness to worst case scenario, encompasses nursing. That we are not unlike an envelope which nutures, protects and transports its contents to countless places, is not lost on me...So what if your nursing professor can relate replies given to her to other professions...She merely proves the point that in its ability to identify with "everywoman and man" and not be compartmentalized into some bland and possibly unimportant or umimpressive definition, nursing is most certainly unique. We care for EVERYONE because amongst us, we ARE everyone. Now, THATS unique......
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