You’re a Nurse

Being a nurse has been the best accidental career decision I’ve ever kind of made, and most of the things that I did in my life have been accidents. And by accident I mean something that happened without much, or even any, prior thought or planning.

I know people that have planned their life out, complete with goals and objectives, like where they wanted to be in five years, ten years, and so on. I’m pretty sure the only things I’ve ever given any serious thought to before I did them was get married and quit drinking. Everything else more or less unfolded in front of me. I took a lots of roads less traveled than…

Nursing is not a job. Being a dishwasher or being the President is a job. Nursing is a career. It’s like the difference between having clothes and having a wardrobe.

Nursing also offers a wide variety of specialty areas, so if you don’t like the specialty area you’re in, you can try a different one. That’s how I ended up Psychiatry. My first nursing position was in Cardiac Care, but my heart wasn’t in it, so I left after six months. Once I started working in Psych, I could never convince the doctors I was better, and none of them would discharge me…

Being a nurse made me a better person. Nurses adhere to a high moral and ethical standard. I sometimes marvel at this because I was somewhat blithe of scruple prior to becoming a nurse. I don’t think I had any morals or ethics, but I kind of admired people that did.

Nursing helped define the things that were important to not just my professional life, but my personal life as well. I became grounded on a firm foundation for the first time in my life.
People started seeing me differently. I had become someone worthy of respect. I will never forget the first time my daughters told me I was wise. It’s not the kind of thing I was used to hearing. It was both gratifying and humbling.

Yeah, being a nurse was mostly cool, except for the parts that sucked. Working short staffed. Picking up an extra shift so your relief teams aren’t working short staffed. Problem patients. Asshole managers. Lousy healthcare benefits. It’s not as glamorous as they make it look on TV. And I never even got to have sex in the exam room! Where’s my agent?!? Get his ass in here, STAT!

That’s probably the coolest thing about being a nurse. You get to say that word. Only two or three types of people can use that word. Doctors and nurses, we can say it ever we want. I need a crash cart, STAT! I need that medication, STAT! Social workers can also use that word, but only if they’re ordering a drink.

However, there was one aspect of being a nurse, and all my nurse friends will vouch for this–the one thing that totally bites ass. You’re off duty. You’re at a party or something, and someone will come up to you and say, “You’re a nurse. What do you think this is?”

The first time it happened I was so excited! It was also the last time I was excited.

Do you ask your friends that are hair stylists if they brought their scissors to the party? Maybe you could just trim this up for me. Thanks.

Do you ask your mechanic friends if they could listen to your engine, and maybe give your car a tune up and an oil change? It won’t take long. This party’s gonna last awhile, bro. I’ll hold your drink.

You’re a nurse. What do think this is? Once I got over my initial thrill, it was all over. Hmm, let me see… I started throwing out vague illnesses and diseases. Cholera. Prader-Willi Syndrome. Jakob Creutzfeldt disease. Pika. Beri beri. Yeah, could be that.

Sometimes I made stuff up: cerebrolithiasis. Let’s see if anyone besides me knows what that is.

And people STILL asked me, What do you think this is?

And then it came to me. The perfect answer to that annoying question. “You’re a nurse. What do you think this is?”

“That? I can’t be sure, but that looks like cancer. You should probably go see your doctor, just to be safe.”

I’m a nurse. Do I know what’s wrong with you? Yes, I probably do. But I’m a psych nurse. I also know what’s REALLY wrong with you. You should see your doctor if you want an answer to that question. She probably has kids she’s putting through college, and she could use the money.

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