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I was having a conversation with a family member a couple of months ago and we were talking about a patient I had who had liver failure along with multiple comorbidities, couldn’t walk or care for herself, had no family, in a nursing home, multiple pressure ulcers, etc.  The woman was old and dying with very little quality of life.  I made a comment on how the medical interventions just needed to stop; at some point no level of care is going to help and the resources (man power and money) aren’t worth spending on a patient like this.

Aren’t you going to be a nurse?!”  She said to me astonished at my callousness.

“Yea.  I am.  And news flash, that’s how many MANY nurses think.  Only you don’t know it cause you’re on the other side of the bedside manner,”  I responded.

“I thought you were there to help people and get them better?”  She asked me.

“Yea.  For 12 hours out of their chronically deteriorating life I can help them push off the inevitable,” as I sipped my martini.

 

This is a typical conversation for me with the general public.  So let me tear the band-aid off the public’s apparently very blind eye: nurses are callous people.  They have to be.  You can’t live that life, in and out every day with dying and sick people, and not develop some kind of sick sense of humor and a very rational way of thinking.  It’s just how it is.  So get over it.

Now.  This “matter-of-fact” way of thinking does not mean that a nurse is uncaring or bad at his/her job.  On the contrary, this thinking can sometimes make a nurse better in certain specialty areas (like trauma).  It also means that she does not let her emotions or biases get in the way of providing quality care.  And that’s what you’re there for, right?  So get over it.

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Lastly, not all areas of nursing require you to deal with chronically ill, slowly deteriorating, pathetically dying patients.  I love the ER for this reason; patients are there for acute problems, stay for 3 hours, then you push them to another floor.  Or the ICU where there is a specific problem at hand, you stabilize, then push patient.  That’s my kind of nursing.  And since I am very rational, no nonsense but still have a knack for getting people to trust/like me, I would be good in those areas.

So get over it.

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