02 July 2004 - 2:07 PM
Sometimes people should keep their mouths shut
I am peeved.
One of my new co-workers asked what my husband does. 'He's a nurse,' I said. 'Geriatric and internal medicine.' Because that is what he does. He's working in a practice now, but has worked in VA hospitals and hospice services in the past.
Most people, when told what the Viking does, say something neutral like 'Oh, how interesting,' if not something actually positive. This woman decided to treat me to some 'male nurse' jokes.
I try not to take myself or my husband too seriously. I try to have a sense of humour. Maybe I'm just uptight and need to loosen up. But I was, frankly, offended.
Nursing is, for the record, one of the most understaffed and underpaid professions in the country. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has some Quick Statistics online. Men make up about 5% of the nursing profession, and they're often the quickest to bolt from it, according to a CBS News story. The story points out that two of the issues associated with people deciding to leave the profession are low pay and lack of respect.
(Gee, that sounds like some of what motivates people to leave teaching. Not that I'd know anything about that).
Part of the problem is, I guess, that the average person doesn't have a clear idea of what nurses do. Uh, give shots and take blood pressure, right?
Right, and about 10,000 other things. The California Employment Development department has a breakdown on what nurses and nurse practitioners do in various workplaces (e.g. hospitals, clinics, etc).
As an LPN, the Viking does all that with a smaller paycheque. And the thing about 'most tasks are not strenuous'? That's because the 'big guys' like my Viking get called to do the heavy lifting, or subdue the patients flailing around in psychosis, for the RNs.
Being a nurse is not a sign of failure. Nurses aren't people who washed out of medical school, so they're nursing instead. For the record, it's more likely that your physician was redirected into human medicine after washing out of (or never getting into) veterinary school.
Could you do what the floor nurse in a nursing home does? Would you do it for $15/hour? Evenings and weekends? Holidays? Would you do it without health or retirement benefits? (LPNs don't often get those, unless they're in VA facilities).
If you can't say yes to all of those questions, then shut up with the male nurse jokes, and count your blessings that there are people like my Viking, who will.