“I’m not a waitress” and other lies.

I have read roughly seventeen bazillion articles/blogs that discuss how underrated, and mistreated the bedside caregiver is. Most of these are beautifully and tactfully composed. I love reading them because universally, they give the public a glimpse into our day, they give accounts of why we are proud of what we do, they value our calling, and it’s just plain nice to see that others walk through the same fire that I do. We are not alone in our struggle.
I do have to say, however, that oftentimes I come across comments from other nurses that trouble me. These comments make our community seem composed of haughty,  jaded brats. Just as “entitled” as the family member they are complaining about asking for a diet coke, I’d like to challenge my fellow caregiver to hold yourself a little more accountable than that. Let me remind you that our profession is a higher calling. We are, and should be held to a higher standard. When we are feeling “abused” at the bedside, who are we helping by “fighting back?” I daresay no one, including yourself. When we see the media discussing our work with anything but the highest reverence, how could it help anything by lighting torches and tying nooses? Let us remember that our work is no longer strictly volunteer. We get payed to do our work, and the currency is not gratitude. You need to find another fuel for your afirmation fire. It makes me uncomfortable when the unsung hero’s of healthcare suddenly demand songs of praise. That is simply not why we are here. It makes me sad when I see my fellow nurses infuriated when retail workers ask for holidays off when “we can’t do that.” Have we forgotten that our purpose is a little more important than black Friday shopping? If we want to be respected for the work we do, we have to respect it for what it is. If you aren’t willing to be a bit of a martyr, a bit of a servant, a bit of a whipping boy sometimes, perhaps you should reevaluate your career choice. Please, don’t think that I don’t get upset when my colleagues aren’t treated with the respect that I know they deserve. I recognize that there is a perception problem in our society of healthcare workers. It is my opinion, however, that a portion of this issue rises from our perception of our own profession. It has drifted away from what it should be. I believe that we could improve the public outlook towards us if we first redirect our attitude as a community. The fact is that we shouldn’t be offended when we serve as someone’s waitress, their maid, or their masseuse.  All of those things can contribute to healing or to comfort and that is why we are here. So chin up, smile, you’re doing a great job. You are helping people. Just don’t expect to be told that all the time.

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