It’s that time of year again! Nurse’s week is right around the corner. To express appreciation, hospitals everywhere will be providing free meals to nurses and giving away various tchotchkes, like water bottles, phone chargers, t-shirts etc. If you’re lucky, you might even come face to face with your CNO wheeling a snack cart through your unit (yes, this has really happened to me). Nearly every day, someone will post a nurse meme on my Facebook wall and I will tag all of my nurse friends, which I truly enjoy. Typically, we take this time to appreciate each other, as much or more than the general public appreciates us (except maybe Dunkin Donuts, because they have given free coffee during nurse’s week in the past and that’s some serious appreciation).
During May 6th through 12th, I encourage you to appreciate, in every way you can, RN’s, LPN’s, NP’s, and nursing assistants. I want to take the time to publicly announce how much I love my kind and why I think we are so unique and amazing. Nurses are the only profession I know who can and must wear at least 100 hats in one day. The following are just a few of the “jobs” nurses do, which do not specifically carry a “nursing” title.
Family Counselor, Psychologist
Almost every day, if I am not being a psychologist to my patient, I am counseling their family. People’s lives are crazily complex these days and hospitals are epically high-stress. Mix the two together and madness can erupt. However, without nurses, the madness would be utter insanity. In one patient room someone may be dying and we have to console the family, while next door, a patient is transferring to another unit and we must act like nothing is wrong. Some days, family/patient issues can spew like the Jerry Springer Show and we are validating DNA matches of everyone in the room all while caring for a critically ill patient. This, my friends, takes some serious talent.
I’ve said before, nurses are the best at taking lemons and making lemonade. Patients in the hospital many times don’t feel like eating and especially don’t feel like eating hospital food. Nurses are the only people I know who can transform graham crackers, peanut butter, vanilla ice cream, saltines, apple/orange juice, and Ensure into a gourmet meal. If a patient won’t eat, a nurse armed with a peanut butter/Ensure milkshake and some love will get the job done.
Nurses who work with chronically ill patients know how to make someone feel like a million bucks. I learned how to French braid working in the ICU, and it’s common amongst my fellow nurses as well. It’s all about healing; mind, body, and spirit. All of us know how to wash a vented patient’s hair, give manicures and pedicures, and there is always a nurse with a stash of fancy soap in her locker, ready to give a patient the royal treatment. While many outsiders may consider these tasks miniscule, we all know the astronomical difference they can make.
Doctor, Physical Therapist, Respiratory Therapist, Pharmacist
Okay, I’m a team player here and I do truly value the talents of every team member. However, aside from maybe performing surgery, many nurses, including myself have been stand-ins for the above specialties. This is not an ideal situation, but when staff is short and/or not available on night shift, nurses get it done and do it well. If I were going to put my life in only one specialty’s hands, it would easily, 100% be in the hands of my team of nurses. Go team!
Off the top of my head I can think of plenty of other “jobs” we do every day: case manager, social worker, housekeeper, waitress, phlebotomist, negotiator, mother, chaplain, friend etc. So, for nurse’s week, pat yourself on the back and accept that free coffee and tchotchke because you are not only a nurse, you are at least 100 other things.
Danielle is the owner of her blog Nurse Abnormalities. Follow her on Instagram @nurseabnormalities and twitter @NursAbnormality.