Over the past year, it has become clear to me that not many people or organisations understand what nurses do.
Just yesterday, I read that UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) posted what they thought the role of a nurse was. “You’ll provide support to doctors and other medical staff, take blood and urine samples…”
In the summer, The Guardian newspaper described nurses as “doctors’ assistants”. This was changed after major backlash from the nursing community.
Again in the summer, London Marathon runner Jessica Anderson was due to be awarded the world record holder for the fastest nurse to run the marathon. But was told that she would not qualify due to the fact that she wore trousers. Guinness World Record (GWR) rules stipulate that a nurse’s uniform must include a blue or white dress, a white pinafore apron and a traditional white nurse’s cap. Anderson was told that scrubs could be confused with the fancy dress requirements for a doctor’s uniform. Luckily this was rectified and Jessica was award the record after the nursing workforce backed her.
Why are we are nurses (and students) having to constantly defend our profession? If it’s not students defending the fact that we are now degree taught nurses, it’s nurses proving to organisations and people that we are not “hand maidens” and these old fashioned views need to be challenged.
Yes nurses work with doctors, but we also work with healthcare assistants, dieticians, occupational therapists, pharmacists, speech and language therapists, radiographers, police officers, paramedics, social workers, teachers, physiotherapists and a whole range of other professions.
We build up therapeutic relationships with our patients, we make sure that they are safe, we make sure that their medications are correct, we talk to them, we hold their hands in time of needs, we can help to sort out their social situations, heck we can even be references for job applications!
There is so much more to nursing than “collecting blood and urine samples”. There is also so much more to nursing than working in hospitals. There are many nurse led clinics, community based nursing, school nursing, prison nursing, learning disability nursing, mental health nursing, paediatric nursing, geriatric nursing, palliative care nursing, adult nursing.
So hopefully this can give a better impression of “what nurses do” than what UCAS and The Guardian can come up with.