Most people don’t know exactly what nurses do, and they make a lot of assumptions based on media and interactions with nurses in the hospital. Here are 7 false assumptions about nurses that really need to change in order to further our profession.
1. Nurses are a doctor’s secretary
This has been a long standing assumption about nurses. The doctors make the orders, and the secretarial nurses write them down, saying “Yes, doctor.”
The assumption probably arises from older television shows where the nurses actually were subservient to doctors. Unfortunately, at the time that was the norm in the facilities too.
2. Nurses have no authority over their patients
In modern nursing, we have a lot of say over what happens to our patients. This means our responsibility for the patient approaches the level of the doctor’s liability.
In fact, nurses are very involved with patients and can pursue their assessment findings, even if the doctor does not think it is a problem. We can take it up the chain of command to protect our patients.
3. All nurses do is wipe behinds
While is it true that wiping behinds is very much a part of the nursing experience, it is not the only thing nurses do. Sure, we clean up blood, vomit, and sputum, too, but we also have the medical responsibilities beyond merely keeping the patient clean.
We pass meds, read vital signs, take down lab work, assess patients for distress, and take action. Where the public has gotten the idea that we are merely those who shovel nasty waste is a mystery.
4. All procedures are done by doctors
The television show House is the culprit for this assumption about the nursing profession. Doctor’s don’t give meds, draw blood, or wait around in the room of a patient to assure they will make it through the night.
No, Hollywood, these are all things that nurses do, and they often go unsung. Don’t believe doctors are the ones who are taking intimate care of the patients because it takes a great deal of nurses and technicians to make a patient well.
5. RNs spend all their time charting with no patient interactions
This assumption is actually rather funny. Nurses have the most interaction with patients, except nursing assistants, and charting is a duty left for the end of the shift.
Most nurses spend their time running from one patient room to another. Even at night, the interactions with the patients fall squarely in the shoulders of the RN.
6. Nurses work 8 hours a day
Most nurses work 12 hours per day, but some work 8. Either way, the time spent on a nursing unit is stressful from start to finish.
Just because nurses work regular business hours doesn’t not mean the job is like an office job. It is very different, changes every day, and usually results in staying on the floor far after the workday has ended.
7. Nursing is easy, like any other job
Nursing is like no other job out there. Nursing requires dedication, fortitude, and an ability to handle stress that doesn’t occur in most jobs.
Many of those pursuing a second career are pursuing nursing because of the alleged shortage. Some get into nursing and find that it is far different than they thought.