The REAL reasons the card playing comments pissed off nurses

The REAL reasons the card playing comments pissed off nurses

The REAL reasons the card playing comments pissed off nurses

 Nurses all over America were outraged and took to social media quickly to respond to Washington Senator Maureen Walsh’s comments last week that nurses in critical access hospitals “sit around and play cards for a considerable amount of the day”.  The comments were made during her argument for an amendment to a bill that would mandate rest and meal breaks as well as overtime.

This is not the first time comments like this have been made in the nursing profession. Three years ago, I was the target.

I am Kelley Johnson (@@realnursekelley), and I was the nurse behind Joy Behar’s “Doctor’s Stethoscope” comment on the television show The View. If you are not sure what the backstory is for those comments, just Google it. You will have endless information to choose from.

In both instances, nurses united together and fought back against ignorant comments that were demeaning and unnecessary. For different reasons each time, some with more truth to them than others, but nevertheless a huge response ensued both times.

So, why?

Why is it that comments like these that are directed at one profession (but one profession with hundreds of very different specialties that often have little to do with one another) can spark so much cohesive controversy and response

Why is it that nurses cannot let this stuff go and just “move on”?

I’m here to explain it to you. Because if we are all being really honest with ourselves in nursing, there are five (maybe more) reasons why comments like these really upset us, and they have very little to do with the people who made them.

Those people just finally give us a microphone to finally be heard.

  1. Few People Know What a Nurse REALLY Does

We are still lacking immense public education about what nurses actually do. It is infuriating how consistently down-played our role in healthcare is, and how often our scope of practice is disrespected. I think the media is partly to blame for condoning and promoting inaccurate images of nursing (the Doctor’s girlfriend, the sexy Halloween costume, etc.), but there are many misconceptions about the profession that are regularly perpetuated by the general public. Nurses, quite often, make critical decisions about patient care and have to have the intelligence, experience, and confidence to so autonomously. Nursing is a science that takes a skilled healthcare professional to treat and save the lives of multiple people every single day. Nurses are not someone’s assistant. Nurses are the forefront of patient care.

If you do not know what a nurse REALLY does, ask one. Pretending, and being wrong, is not okay anymore. We work too hard to take it any longer.

Oh, and there are 300,000 males in nursing, so the sexualized image of nursing that is a wildly dangerous narrative can kick the curb, too.

  1. Opportunities to be Heard as a Collective Profession are Purposefully Minimized

Nurses rarely have an opportunity to stand up for themselves and for our profession. It feels like people other than nurses constantly make decisions about the nursing profession. It is important that we are collectively heard about why ignorant comments like the ones made by that Senator are dangerous, and why it is vital nurses be listened to, considered, and understood when it comes to setting the record straight. We cannot afford to lose any more nurses or have anyone decide nursing is not for them due to misinformation and isn’t it funny, the people making these types of uninformed comments are the ones who will need us the most.

Nurses are the type of people that often keep to themselves, but when an opportunity arises to finally let out to the suppression and minimization we feel by those who do not know anything about nursing, we jump at the chance. It has to stop in the day-to-day before it can be “let go” on the national scale.

  1. Confusion. Who Demeans a Nurse?!

Nurses work very, very hard to take care of complete strangers for a living. Think about that for a second…this Senator was suggesting that people who have

  1. dedicated their lives to others,
  2. missed family events,
  3. served on holidays,
  4. gone without eating, sleeping, or using the restroom on a regular basis,
  5. and are rarely thanked do not deserve breaks to eat, rest, or be paid for overtime.

I am just so mind-boggled by the entire notion. These are nurses. Questioning their work ethic and demeaning them makes no sense at all. What on earth would this world come to if nobody wanted to be a nurse anymore? What would you do without them? I am honestly asking. It seems to be so easy for people to minimize their work and take from them, but please, let me know how any facet of healthcare could possibly run without their position within it. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

  1. Politicians Are Not Nurses

This one is easy. The comment she made is not true. It is that simple. Politicians have no place interjecting opinions about a profession and people they know nothing about. Politicians have no place developing legislation without thorough review and discussion involving the opinions, knowledge, research, and experience of many nursing professionals. The. End.

  1. Previously Existing Country-wide Lack of Respect

This one goes hand in hand with #1, because this lack of respect stems from a misunderstanding about what nurses do and how difficult their job is. There are far too many people who have been misguided by stigmas, assumptions, and images of nursing that do not reflect the work that they do. There are also far too many people in healthcare that should consider elevating their respect for nurses, their communication with the nursing staff, and their appreciation for their work.

Nurses are already under-appreciated and overworked, so this adds fuel to a fire that has no place existing. Nurses are just starting to really get sick of it. Comments like this have no place, and it is not good enough anymore to make them and apologize. Stop making them in the first place. Educate yourself.

Okay, I will hop down from my soapbox.

Those are the five reasons that nurses REALLY get mad about comments like Joy Behar and Maureen Walsh have made about us. The comments are awful, but there is a foundation of disrespect that we have dealt with for a long time.

You can be a part of the positive change.

And as always, if Joy or Maureen truly needed any one of us, nurses, we would be there for them.

Because that’s what we do, and that is what makes us nothing like them.


Kelley Johnson, RN, BSN, DNP-2020


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