“So, will you go get me a bedpan?” The bar was fancy, so I let it slide. This was not the first time my response to an occupational query was followed with a statement about bedside toileting; people just don’t know what to do when an educated, confident woman says she’s a nurse. I smiled tersely, as I have trained myself to. In past years, I’d offer varying responses: anger, heated debate. ...

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I softly scrub blood from the teeth of a man who died moments ago. From the chair where I sat quietly writing nursing notes while he quietly ended, my patient's sallow skin and sunken cheeks looked so peaceful. But the weeks of stagnant residue on his teeth bothered me. To brush the teeth of someone who was in the process of dying would have contradicted my orders to provide comfort care, ...

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