When will nurses cease to be invisible? The web site The Truth About Nursing discusses an article about Hillary Clinton’s hospitalization in which the author did not make one reference to nursing (MatthewLee, “Hillary Clinton hospitalized with blood clot,” Bloomberg Businessweek, December 31, 2012 *). The Truth About Nursing suggests if Clinton needed to be hospitalized then she needed nursing care or she could have received treatment at home. Think about it. Can hospitals function without nurses? Instead doctors were the only ones mentioned that monitored and assessed her condition while she was an in-patient.
Do you think doctors stay at the bedside of their patients 24/7? No, they go home for dinner. If there were a problem, most likely they would be paged by the nurse on duty—perhaps at 2 a.m. Or they would hear how the nurse independently solved the problem when they made rounds the next day. Or not.
Unfortunately, to our detriment, we nurses avoid seeking attention for what we do that improves patient outcomes. Because we are so self-effacing, is it any wonder the media rarely mentions us and therefore “reinforces the damaging misimpression that physicians provide all the health care that matters.”?
Isn’t it time we spoke up for ourselves, demanding recognition for what we do? It is a sad fact that the media have long ignored nurses and nursing practice. Nurses continue to shun publicity as if calling attention to what we do is a sign of hubris. I’ve mentioned in the past that I had asked nurses in a hospital where I worked to write stories about what they did that made a difference in a patient’s life. I received few submissions. The most common reason for not writing was they didn’t want to sound as if they were bragging.
I have been guilty of not taking credit for my nursing actions in the past. The story I wrote for The Examined Life Journal, Invisible, tells of a time back in the early ‘80s when I told a doctor that I believed the patient for whom he just wrote a discharge order should remain in the hospital. The challenge there was to avoid the old doctor-nurse game. But, and this is the big but, I never told the patient I was worried about the fluid in her lungs, her labored breathing and lethargy. So she never knew a nurse made a difference in her care when a few days later she went home without those troubling symptoms. Now, years later I wrote my story.
Let’s all of us nurses start speaking out by following a suggestion from The Truth About Nursing: email authors Mathew Lee and Marilynn Marchione at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, stating our concerns about omitting any reference to nursing in their article. And send a copy of your email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
I plan to do that. I hope you will, too.
*A P Chief Medical Writer Marilyn Marchione in Milwaukee contributed to this report.
- Positive nursing environments reduce readmissions (medicalstaffingnetwork.wordpress.com)