Why Does It Take a Pandemic to Recognize Nurses?

I’m reblogging Suzanne Gordon’s post: Why Does It Take a Pandemic to Recognize Nurses?

I have long followed Suzanne Gordon who is not a nurse but has been a relentless advocate of nursing over the years. She is a journalist and author of many books about the health care system. She co-authored Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public.

Reading her post gives me hope that nurses finally find themselves strategically placed in the current COVID-19 pandemic to call attention to the importance of their expertise and place in the hierarchy of health care providers.



Why Does It Take a Pandemic to Recognize Nurses?

by Suzanne Gordon

Posted: 08 Apr 2020 07:42 PM PDT

Over the past few weeks, as the coronavirus has whipped through the country, the press, policy makers and the public have finally recognized the value of the largest profession in healthcare.  Every media outlet reporting on the crisis now includes comments from nurses, reports on the risks nurses face as they care for patients, discussions of nursing shortages, and the complex work nurses do.  It’s about time.

My question is why has it taken this long.  And why aren’t policy makers and hospital administrators giving nurses what they need.  NOW!!!

For years, nurses have tried to explain their work to the public.  I have been honored to help with this work.  As I have written in my book Safety in Numbers, unions, like the California Nurses Association, have fought to get safe nurse to patient ratios.  Other unions, like the Massachusetts Nurses Association, have fought for the kind of safe staffing legislation, that if enacted in every state except for only one – California – would have encouraged safer nurse to patient ratios and ensured that there would be enough nurses to take care of patients in hospitals all over the country in a time of national emergency.  Hospital associations have derailed this kind of legislation whenever and wherever it has been proposed.

Nurses have asked for the lift equipment that would pay for itself and make their work safer.  Hospital associations have fought this wherever and whenever it has been proposed.  Now nurses are asking for personal protective equipment to make their work safe and hospital associations, legislators, governors, and the President are not supporting this request.

And so nurses are speaking out to the media about the risks of their work and what is the response of their employers? To issue disciplinary warnings, fire them, threaten them, silence them.

Well nurses are rejecting this and must be even more vocal in doing so.  And we the public must add our voices to support them.

Not only should nurses be recognized and their insights, concerns and demands solicited, honored, and effectively addressed, so should the needs of all other healthcare workers.  Nurses know that healthcare is delivered by a team and that it takes a literal village to care for a patient.  We need to listen to nurses and also to nursing assistants, to housekeepers, to dietary workers and transport workers and many others.  It takes a team to care for patients with COVID-19 and those team members need our help, support and action now!!!





Just a Nurse

bookmrk-sm1This is from Suzanne Gordon’s Blog. Ms Gordon is a journalist and stanch supporter and promoter of all things nursing.

Recently she asked nurses to respond with their version of “Just a Nurse.” I am delighted to see their feedback. May nurses continue to tell the public what they do and how important their job is.


I would like to post all the ” Just a Nurse” submissions people have sent me.  See below.  What do you think?  I think they are all great.  Thank you so much, all of you.

Suzanne Gordon

I’m just a Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse. I just manage my patients’ drips to keep to their vital signs in a stable range. I just make sure their medications are safely administered. I just make sure the physician is informed of any small but meaningful change in their condition so we can work together to prevent catastrophes. And I just make sure that the patient and family aren’t terrified by all of the beeping alarms and alarming equipment. Kateri Allard, RN

I am just an Emergency Department nurse who recognizes that you are short of breath, listens to your breath sounds with my stethoscope, checks your oxygen blood saturation, and with my expertise and knowledge on how to treat respiratory distress, immediately initiates appropriate, life-saving treatments. But, hey, I’m just a nurse. From Kathleen Burke, RN

I am just a pediatric nurse practitioner. I immunize your child against life threatening diseases. From Suzanne Malloy, RN

I’m just a Nurse I make sure my patients do not die alone. From Aimee LeVasseur Desmarais, RN

Just a Nurse

it was JUST a nurse that held my hand when I got sutures for the first time

it was JUST a nurse that gave me a lollipop when those sutures were removed

it was JUST a nurse that explained in layman’s terms what my injury was

it was JUST a nurse that took away the butterflies before surgery

it was JUST a nurse that held my Mom when she was told Dad’s cancer was terminal

it was JUST a nurse that brought coffee and comfort during those long visits to the hospital

it was JUST a nurse that gave us smiles and understanding

it was JUST a nurse that gave Dad the dignity he deserved while he was dying

it was JUST a nurse that said “I’m sorry for your loss.”

it was JUST a nurse that said it was ok to cry when Dad passed

it is JUST a nurse that wears a uniform

and like most anyone in uniform, they are JUST heroes

From Liam Downey, RN

I’m just a nurse. I just help patients and families in their last hours of life and I just am there to welcome new babies into the world, and I just take care of everyone in between of every culture, race, socioeconomic status with love and acceptance. I am just a nurse. From Deborah Kloos, RN

Well, I’m a pediatric nurse. I just hold a crying parent in my arms after the doctor informs them that their child has a brain tumor…From Charmain Berrian,RN

I’m just a nurse, I’m the one who will make sure your surgery team knows everything about your history before you enter the OR suite. From Susan Bartlett, RN

I am a nurse…I care about people…I take care of people…it is not a job it is my life…24-7.  From Donna DiRusso

I’m just a nurse. I held my patient’s hand as she cried wondering how she would ever heal her debilitating wound. From Toni DiMar, RN

I’m just a nurse, I fixed a bowl of mixed up medication to be in a med organizer so my patient would take her proper meds and not die of an overdose. From Toni Di Mar, RN

As professional nurses we do “listen to the heartbeat,” not only of individual patients, but of entire communities. Nurses look for, find & care for the forgotten people. We advocate for homeless families and campaign for social justice. We practice compassion with persons affected by addictions. Nurses tend to the needs of people experiencing mental health challenges. We step up to the podiums at town halls and at our State Capitals. We are indeed front-line healthcare providers. Every Nurse a Leader! #rockthestethoscope  From Barb Enos, RN, MN

I’m just a nurse, I teach patients about their disease process, how their medications work alone & in combination with each other, review symptoms to monitor, and listen to their fears as they progress on their health journey while taking care of four other individuals. From A. B. Fay,RN

I’m just a nurse, when I nurture new interns and new nurse graduates, socialize them to the complexity of healthcare, and care for a full patient assignment. From A. B. Fay, RN.

I’m just a nurse. I translate medical jargon into simple understandable terms that people can understand.

I am just a nurse. I breathe life into people who have died.

I reduce the suffering of people who are dying making their last days comfortable.

I help families to share a common goal making their experience of a dying parent/child bearable.

From Patricia McNair, RN

I’m Just a nurse…I informed the ED attending that the patients cardiac monitor pattern had ST elevation and was a STEMI. I’m just a nurse….I questioned the dose of a resident’s order for a beta blocker that was more than double what should be given.  From Elissa Aldred,RN