Being a nurse is the noblest profession

It was recently Nurses Week in early May and there were a lot of adulations being offered on social media and throughout hospitals regarding the appreciation we have for those among us who have chosen to be on the “front lines” of caring for us when ill or injured.

As an emergency physician I could speak about the many times a nurse has grabbed me and pulled me into a room with the words “you have to see this person RIGHT NOW,” and they were always right. I have had nurses question times I was going to discharge a patient because they did not “look right.” And again, they were right.

I can speak of the 20 years of clinical practice and the truly great nurses with whom I have worked. I had an advantage. I was well trained. My sister practiced as a critical care nurse, my wife was a procedural sedation nurse and my daughter is now a novice nurse working in the field of emergency medicine.

Being a nurse means being the one really at the bedside as I move in and out evaluating patients and writing orders. Like magic, those orders get translated to a task list that includes evaluating the patient for severity, placing them on monitors, starting IVs, drawing blood, placing foleys and administering meds. The good nurses establish rapport with a kind word or a joke to put the patient at ease. I have witnessed countless good nurses practicing their chosen profession.

Nurses are also the ones who bear the brunt of the patient’s anger, or clean them up when they vomit or soil themselves. They act as a surrogate family to patients and often get to know details of a patient’s life simply because they are the ones spending the time to explore that life. Most thank you notes I see pinned to the bulletin board at many places I practice are not about the care they received from the physician but the kindness they were shown by the nurse. That is as it should be.

Being noble is defined as having, showing, or coming from personal qualities that people admire (such as honesty, generosity, courage, etc.) There are a few noble professions in this world. Practicing medicine is one of them. And being a nurse is perhaps the noblest in the house of medicine.

To all the great nurses I have known and with whom I have had the privilege to work I offer my eternal thanks and gratitude. You deserve to hear it everyday.

Angelo Falcone is chief executive officer, Medical Emergency Professionals (MEP).  He blogs at The Shift.

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  • Arby

    Nothing against your practice, and I may have gotten the bad luck of the draw, yet I have not had good experiences with NPs or PAs. They were more empathic than the physicians I’ve visited, yet their medicine was not up to par. Now, I always ask for an appointment with an MD.

    I’ve also noticed that the urgent care clinics in my area advertise that you are always seen by a doctor. So, I don’t think I am the only patient to think this way.

  • Teresa Brown

    As a 30 year veteran of the nursing profession, I want to thank you for your kind words and appreciation for what we nurses do.

  • SteveCaley

    I was asked how to raise nursing morale, and make nurses feel respected and valuable. A baseline of $8500 per month does it very well. The responses were generally, “Ha, ha – but seriously….”

    • Lisa

      Hospitals don’t value nurses any more than they value the doctors they hire.

      • SteveCaley

        That is the truth. There are people who wish to use Newspeak and babble to confuse people. Pretending sincerity is the rocket to the top in the Medical Industry. I have had plenty of patronizing questions about nursing – inspiring nurses, combatting burnout, making them feel valued. Dr. Franklin ($100′s) is the only cure, and in large doses. everything else is condescending.

        • Lisa

          Not overworking nurses is another way for hospitals to prove they value nurses. Of course, that also requires money.

        • DeceasedMD1

          I think that’s the old Murphy’s Law at play.
          “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

  • Alene Nitzky

    Thank you so much for your public acknowledgement of the important work nurses do. This is an example of what would go a long way in boosting the morale of nurses. I only wish administrators, executives, and the decision makers could see nursing from your eyes and act accordingly.

    • SteveCaley

      And “administrators, executives, and the decision makers” can’t do nursing, nor can I – I’m not trained for it. The ability to destroy things and make a mess is not an expression of power and authority – the pediatricians call it “the terrible two’s.” How it came to rule Nursing is beyond me.