Nursing is one of the most challenging, exhausting and selfless jobs out there – the recognition of being a doctor is absent, and you’re not a brain surgeon. Yet doctors and brain surgeons know that without nursing staff, their jobs would be a nightmare. So why is nursing generally not seen as a heroic profession?
I think there are quite a few reasons, one of which is Hollywood and TV culture, and the characterisation of nurses as the sidekicks and the doctors as the heroes. This is not really the case – there’s not a single person working in a hospital that’s not a hero, from the surgeons working twenty-hour shifts to the nurses who’ve been on call for days.
Imagine your day-to-day life, and your job, for a moment. You get up, go to work for nine, leave at five, come home, relax, eat dinner, play some Foxy Bingo, or go out with friends. A nurse does not have those luxuries, a lot of the time. Their day starts very early, and tends to end extremely late, if it ends at all. But this is because they’re content with working hard to make sure people are okay.
To work as a nurse, you need to really care about people. They should print that on the job description. Being a nurse isn’t just about learning medicine – it’s about really taking the time to ensure Ms. Johnson in room 43 gets her evening meal, or to ensure that Mr. Swanson has assistance when she needs to go to the toilet.
There are forms of media out there that illustrate how challenging the job is, though even shows like “Nurse Jackie” do tend to purport two incorrect aspects of nursing – that a nurse should, by default, be a woman, and that we have the time to stand around and have relationships and social drama in a go-go-go atmosphere.
So the next time you’re in a hospital – hopefully never – take the time to thank the nurse as well as your doctor or surgeon. They’re the unsung heroes of the hospital, and deserve the recognition