Log in

No account? Create an account
Thinking thoughts. - Nobody wears a white coat any more... — LiveJournal
...a tribute to becoming a doctor.
Thinking thoughts.
tablecolor posted about following a nurse for a day. And it reminded me of a recent conversation.
I like nurses. Nurses and social workers tend to like me. This gets things done - this means that when a patient comes tearing into the hospital at 7 cm dilation screaming for an epidural and the doctor in question is in no way associated with the group I'm working with, they ask me if I want to get involved. "We'll check with the doc when we call him." Nurses do things. Nurses know things. And a good nurse will make your life wonderful.

I was talking with an office nurse. And she expressed, as everyone seems to, that I did not look old enough to be a medical student. People tell me this all the time. People think I'm still in high school. Does it bother me? It bothers me when they assume I must be a nursing student and then they get the condescending "isn't that cute" tone of voice. And she looks at me. "Remember that," she says. "Remember what it feels like to be looked down on for being a nurse."

There is a shortage of nurses in the world today. One of the reasons, or so convention has it, is that young women who want to go into medicine are being redirected. For so many many years, the only route into medicine for a woman was to become a nurse - unless one were very smart, a little pushy, and ready to take heat. Now my class is over 50% women. Young women are being encouraged to become doctors. And sometimes being told you're too smart to be a nurse.
A good nurse, O Best Beloved, is a patient advocate, an educator, a living monitor, a decision-maker, a triage artist, and a general manager of patients. She [I will use she; nursing is still predominantly female, though I know several excellent male nurses as well] knows what needs to be done. She checks documentation. She catches your mistakes. A good nurse means that an OB-GYN can see an entire office worth of patients while three women are laboring in the hospital next door, and still be there to deliver the baby without making anyone wait overly long. And a good nurse is a smart nurse.
Perhaps it is family medicine that makes me perceive things this way; I am accustomed to arguing that you want smart generalists and intelligent gatekeepers. I am accustomed to hearing you're too good come across my own ears. I am accustomed, O Best Beloved, to taking my profession with a grain of salt. I am a believer in well-trained physician assistants, nurse-midwives, and LPN's. I do not subscribe to the idea that medicine is a sacred guild of professional men. I am a middle-class white girl from the Midwest. My parents are teachers. I served burgers at Wendy's to earn money in high school. And I have sweated and bled and fought no more and no less than anyone else in my class to get to where we are.

My gmail account has a saying from the Apocrypha, from the book of Sirach, as its signature:
The Lord created medicines out of the earth,and the sensible will not despise them. Was not water made sweet with a tree in order that its power might be known? And he gave skill to human beings that he might be glorified in his marvelous works. By them the physician heals and takes away pain; the pharmacist makes a mixture from them.
God's works will never be finished; and from him health spreads over all the earth.
- Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach, 38:4-8
And he gave skill to human beings that he might be glorified.
Show me a physician without a good nurse, O Best Beloved, and I will show you a human being who is not living up to that potential of skill. Show me a medical student who takes time to make friends with the nurses, and I will show you a medical student who has that hidden "edge" that makes all the difference.

now feeling:: thankful thankful

11 whispers echo . o O ( ... ) O o . whisper a word
pwwka From: pwwka Date: February 20th, 2005 02:04 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Just want you to know-- I showed this one to my mom, and she cheered you on. Thank goodness someone notices nurses. :)

Incidentally, I play a male nurse in a Trek rpg. Did it deliberately to kind of bust the stereotypes that 1) the only worthwhile people in medicine are doctors; and 2) all nurses are female. He's not feminine in the least, and tempers the always-busy doctor with common sense, general knowledge, and serenity.

I should bring in a doc NPC that acts like a Cat. *grins*
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: February 20th, 2005 02:25 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Of course you do. And I'd love to see it :)
pwwka From: pwwka Date: February 20th, 2005 09:56 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
That isn't hard to do... on a Sunday night, if you've nothing to do around 9pm EST, go HERE.

tablecolor From: tablecolor Date: February 20th, 2005 04:08 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
wow am I honored to be featured in your journal twice!
thanks for reading =)

have i told you that i enjoy your stories around the wards. they are an inspiration to me.
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: February 20th, 2005 04:54 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Aww, that's great.
turnberryknkn From: turnberryknkn Date: February 20th, 2005 05:40 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Well said. Very well said.

At some point, I think our profession needs to sort out the murky territory between a nurse practitioner and a primary care physican, and I often worry that it will be a painful and difficult process.
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: February 20th, 2005 12:48 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
Amen to that.
amasashi From: amasashi Date: February 20th, 2005 10:44 am (UTC) (etched in stone)
Hm, I should find someone to translate that into Chinese (not me, my Chinese is cruddy) and post that somewhere in the hospital.

Though I think in Taiwan, the problem isn't so much that doctors look down on nurses, but that everyone else looks down on nurses because traditionally, being a doctor has been the most desired and respected profession for thousands of years. And so everyone has this mentality that everything short of a doctor isn't worth the time of day.

Eh, Asian culture :-P
waifofthenorth From: waifofthenorth Date: February 20th, 2005 09:49 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
When nurses are the only people besides your 3 visitors you get to see, a good nurse can make all the difference. There's always the only evil nurse though...
From: prophetkristy Date: February 22nd, 2005 08:57 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
(directed here by turnberryknkn--hi!)

From my POV as patient, nurses are way, way, WAY smarter than doctors. Nurses (almost) always have their shit together. They're down in the nitty gritty all. the. time. Seems like many times the doctor is just the figurehead.

[This is of course a gross overgeneralisation.]
ayradyss From: ayradyss Date: February 22nd, 2005 10:09 pm (UTC) (etched in stone)
Hello and welcome!

And I can't, as a medical student, disagree with you :) Not to say that there aren't horrible bad nurses as well.
11 whispers echo . o O ( ... ) O o . whisper a word