What Do Nurses Really Do?
On my personal blog, I’ve written a number of times about the ways in which the public doesn’t really understand what nurses do. Most people form their image of nurses and nursing through the media’s portrayals of nurses, as well as their own personal experiences. But we nurses can sometimes get frustrated when it feels as if people just don’t “get” what it takes to be a nurse and what we actually do on the job.
You can’t really blame people. Do most of us know what accountants do during their work days? Do we really understand what a lawyer’s work is actually like? And do we care what the public thinks, anyway?
From my point of view, it’s crucial for the public to have a clearer understanding of who nurses are, what they do, and what their jobs are about. While many people will simply describe a nurse working in a hospital if they’re asked about their mental picture of a nurse, it’s a fact that the general public encounters nurses in a variety of settings.
Nurses work in hospitals, of course, but we also work in schools, factories, the military, doctors’ offices, legal consulting firms, home care agencies, hospices, nursing homes, entrepreneurial positions, cruise ships, and a host of other venues. We are the majority of health care workers in the United States—and probably in most other countries, as well—and we are often the face of the health care industry that most consumers of medical services encounter most often.
So, does it really matter what people think about nurses? Is it really important for the public to “get” that nurses are everywhere and we serve them in a wide variety of environments in order to meet their needs? It may not be that important, but some of us who think a lot about how nurses are perceived in the world feel that it’s actually up to us to make sure that people understand who we are and what we do.
If the image of nursing is important to you, then take the time to describe what you do when you’re asked. Educate people. Inform them of the wide breadth and depth of nursing practice. Explain how practical nurses, registered nurses, advanced practice nurses, doctors of nursing practice and other nurse specialists deliver the care that so many people need. Tell them there are nurse entrepreneurs who work as coaches, writers, bloggers, business owners and consultants. We truly are everywhere.
It’s time for us to internalize our importance, communicate that importance to others, and be proud of the multifaceted and far reaching profession of nursing.
Did you enjoy this article?