There are more than a few misconceptions out there regarding what nurses are and are not. We nurses know what we are capable of, what we’re responsible for, and what that means for patients. Here are a few characteristics that describe nurses and a little bit of clarification for what that means (or doesn’t mean.
- Nurses are compassionate.
We care about people and we love our patients. On the other hand, we aren’t your mom and we aren’t doormats. We’ll be as kind to you as we possibly can, but don’t make it difficult for us!
- Nurses are intelligent.
No doubt about it. We’ve gone through years of schooling, read the biggest textbooks you’ve ever seen, and passed hundreds of exams. Then, we’ve passed even more exams to get licensed. We’re pretty smart! However, that doesn’t mean that we know everything, and it certainly doesn’t mean we have the professional scope to do every procedure known to man. We have to stay in our lane, and that’s just how we like it.
- Nurses are smart about medications.
All that stuff we learned in nursing school? A LOT of it had to do with medications. We know all about brand and generic options, dosages, contraindications – everything. But that doesn’t mean we’re going to give you extra or push your IV faster, even if you’re nice. We still have lots of health and safety guidelines, and we’re smart enough to follow them.
- Nurses are team players.
We THRIVE on working with a team. We love our co-nurses, tolerate our bosses, and can even deal with physicians. However, that doesn’t mean that we’ll do whatever our team thinks should happen if we don’t believe it’s best for the patient. The patient always comes first, even if it lets our team down.
- Nurses are independent.
Yes, we work on a team, but we also have a ton of work that requires just us. We tend to our own patients and do our own paperwork. We get to work pretty autonomously most of the time, but that doesn’t mean that we get to make all our own decisions without consulting superiors or guidebooks.
- Nurses are nurturers.
Yes, we are! We take care of patients and genuinely care about their wellbeing. And yes, we have to do a lot of work that isn’t super pleasant, like helping patients use the bathroom or cleaning up vomit. But that’s not all we do. Too often, people see us as nothing more than overpaid babysitters that do nothing more than fluff pillows and empty bedpans. If you think that, let me refer you to point number two on this list!
- Nurses are advocates.
Patients are our number one priority. Our only goal is to help them. This means that we have to advocate for patients when they aren’t educated enough about their condition or they aren’t fully aware of what they are entitled to during care. The misconception comes in when people think that a nurse has to do whatever a patient says. Believe us, we won’t help patients do anything to harm themselves or others or do anything unsavory or illegal.
- Nurses are clever.
Nurses have seen it all. We’ve seen the good bad from patients and we’ve even seen a few wacky stories attempting to explain some embarrassing situation. Believe us when we say – we know you didn’t slip and fall on that remote control!
- Nurses are caring.
We truly do care, honestly. We love our patients more than anything and our only goal is to get you better…which is why we just won’t tolerate it when you go AWOL. If you come to us for care, you’ve got to stick with us to receive that care. Otherwise, you’re just leading us on.
- Nurses are always paying attention.
We listen to what you say when you explain your symptoms; we watch how you move and how you talk. We see everything. This is why we take more interest in what we can see for ourselves than what you tell us WebMD diagnosed you as being afflicted with.
- Nurses know diseases.
We are pretty knowledgeable when it comes to a whole range of wild diseases and illnesses. We know our bacteria and our viruses, and we know how they affect people. This does NOT mean that we want to see that crazy mole on your back. Go see your doctor.
- Nurses make up our own minds.
That’s right – we do more than just follow doctor’s orders! We can diagnose and prescribe medicine and even perform certain procedures. Of course, we work closely with physicians, but we are also trained and educated in the health field and don’t just rely on what we are told.