What Nurses Stand For


Here is a rather lengthy article from theAtlantic.com.  I know it is long, but it is definitely worth the time it takes to read.  This writer captures exactly what it is to be a nurse, using vignettes from different specialties to do it.  The author knows what nurses stand for.

Please take the time and read this article.  I know it is old, it is from 1997, but the message is timeless.  Nurses around the world all do the same job without any recognition or praise.   Nurses do their job because they were called to help others and this is their way of doing that.

If you understand what is happening in healthcare today, please tell someone who matters about your thoughts on it.  Until and unless we all voice our thoughts and worries, nothing will ever change.


What Nurses Stand For

Sitcoms satirize them, the media ignore them, doctors won’t listen to them, and now hospitals are laying them off, sacrificing them to corporate medicine — yet their contribution to patients and families is beyond price.

AT four o’clock on a Friday afternoon the hematology-oncology clinic at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital is quiet. Paddy Connelly and Frances Kiel, two of the eleven nurses who work in the unit, sit at the nurses’ station — an island consisting of two long desks equipped with phones, which ring constantly, and computers. They are encircled by thirteen blue-leather reclining chairs, in which patients may spend only a brief time, for a short chemotherapy infusion, or an entire afternoon, to receive more complicated chemotherapy or blood products. At one of the chairs Nancy Rumplik is starting to administer chemotherapy to a man in his mid-fifties who has colon cancer.

Rumplik is forty-two and has been a nurse on the unit for seven years. She stands next to the wan-looking man and begins to hang the intravenous drugs that will treat his cancer. As the solution drips through the tubing and into his vein, she sits by his side, watching to make sure that he has no adverse reaction.

Today she is acting as triage nurse — the person responsible for patients who walk in without an appointment, for patients who call with a problem but can’t reach their primary nurse, for the smooth functioning of the unit, and, of course, for responding to any emergencies. Rumplik’s eyes thus constantly sweep the room to check on the other patients. She focuses for a moment on a heavy-set African-American woman in her mid-forties, dressed in a pair of navy slacks and a brightly colored shirt, who is sitting in the opposite corner. Her sister, who is younger and heavier, is by her side. The patient seems fine, so Rumplik returns her attention to the man next to her. Several minutes later she looks up again, checks the woman, and stiffens. There is now a look of anxiety on the woman’s face. Rumplik, leaning forward in her chair, stares at her.

“What’s she getting?” she mouths to Kiel.

Looking at the patient’s chart, Frances Kiel names a drug that has been known to cause severe allergic reactions. In that brief moment, as the two nurses confer, the woman suddenly clasps her chest. Her look of anxiety turns to terror. Her mouth opens and shuts in silent panic. Rumplik leaps up from her chair, as do Kiel and Connelly, and sprints across the room…(read the rest of this article here)

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