For those of you whose pages are not filled with nursing memes, a senator named Maureen Walsh was recently discussing a legislation regarding nursing, and commented that nurses “probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.” The memes have been hysterical, but I don’t think the proper response to be mean, as that does not highlight the nursing profession in the caring light that I think it deserves to be represented. I wrote Maureen an email the morning following her comments. I haven’t had a response, but I do hope that she saw it, as my experience is one of millions that nurses everywhere experience daily. Thank you to the nurses that I have the privelage of working with every day and those who work caring for patients anywhere. You are all wonderful. A quick side note: I have never progressed much beyond solitaire and Go Fish, so a career that involved “card playing for a considerable amount of the day,” just wouldn’t be the right fit for me 😉
I have come across video of your comments yesterday regarding loopholes in the mandatory overtime legislation. I wanted to reach out to you because your comments seemed uninformed on what nurses handle on a day to day basis. I will agree with you that occasionally there is down time at work, but I think the shifts that are overwhelmingly filled with high importance tasks regarding patient safety far outweigh the shifts where there is a lack of work to do.
I’d like to tell you about a shift that has forever changed me as a nurse. I was working in an emergency room that catered to a rural area with the closest trauma centers being 1.5 hours away. We received a call from EMS that they were bringing in an unresponsive, pulseless 11 month old child. The unit, which was never quiet, got very, very quiet, as we prepped our resuscitation bay for a pediatric code. We waited the 30 minutes it took the ambulance to come in from the rural area they picked up the child from. They performed CPR throughout the transport, and handed a pulseless child to us to take over care. We got to work immediately, and our team worked flawlessly together. There were many skilled nurses in the room to complement the team of physicians attempting to save this boys life. I personally compressed this tiny boy’s chest as we attempted to save his life. Unfortunately we could not resuscitate and we called the code after an hour of resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful. My hand was on the boys chest doing compressions, and I had to remove my hand and step back as I watched a mother reach for her dead son and let out a cry I can only describe as inhuman while she held her lifeless baby. I held that mother’s hand as she grieved her infant son. I, and the nurses around me, cried with her. THIS is why I am a nurse. I am a bachelor’s degree educated professional, skilled in tasks that can make the difference in life or death, but I can also hold the hand of a mother experiencing what no mother should ever go through.
While you receive what I am sure will be much backlash from the nursing community, I hope you can understand that the situations that nurses face day in and day out are wonderful, beautiful, heartbreaking, humbling, and tiring. The nurses responding to your comments are responding from a place of injustice at the times that they have had similar situations to mine. Nurses do work every day was not worthy of the comments that you shared with your peers and to the public.
I hope that you consider my story as you go forward with the discussion of this legislation. I live in Pennsylvania but I would be happy to have you come shadow me for a 12 hour shift so that you may gain some perspective on what we do. I hope that you can take some perspective from what I am sure will be an unpleasant response to your comments. I also hope that you are shown some mercy, as I know it is difficult to empathize with a profession in which you have never worked. Please take my comments as kind, I know that your job is hard, and I know that you work for the people tirelessly to bring their wishes forward to your peers.
Amanda Chilcott, BSN, RN