Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nurses Taking the (chokie) Bickey

From the other side of the planet where I schooled and trained, the doctor is god: an omnipotent, autocratically patriarchic kind of god. Nurses are relegated as angels or cherubs. Angels are people of exceptional holiness. Like nuns or sisters. When some nurses holiness become nonpareil, they become Sisters. Cherubs are also special. They are an angel of the second order. They are most loved by patients because they coo and smile. In fact they smile a lot they grow their wings by smiling.

It is not always a good thing to be god, so most angels are quite happy to stay as angels. In other words, doctors are doctors and nurses are nurses. If a nurse wants to become a doctor, he or she goes to medical school. Yeah, he or she carries them heavy books and burns the eyebrows. You don’t become a doctor by being struck by lightning from mount Olympus.

Oh, the good old days. Nurses nowadays apparently don't smile, and I didn't notice this until I stumbled upon this blog by The Angry Medic. No! They don't.

Good Nursie! Here, Have A Biscuit.

I was so busy writing about The Melancholy Death of Evil Sperm I forgot stuff that really matters. I know that this will not generate as much comment as the previous post, but what the hey.

NHS Trust Offering Nurses Chockie Biscuits – to encourage them to smile at patients. This is actually quite funny.

In this part of the planet there are no such things as gods and angels: you are made to feel part of the team. This is a good thing, really. Most nurses are happy to stick to their roles and doctors do their own bit to achieve the goals of the team. Some nurses are given roles that obscure the demarcation between each role, and as long as they work within a framework that protects them i.e. defends them from danger, injury, loss, lawsuits etc., and with a fair amount of compensation for this added role, he / she is happy to oblige. Whatever the reason is:

To save Trust money – as it pays peanuts to hire nurses to do the job or to recompense for the shortage of doctors, the latter being highly unlikely, added to a lot of confusion and mayhem that bedraggles the modern NHS.

“In recent years there have been growing concerns about nurses who are “too posh to wash” and prefer to spend their time on administrative and technical tasks rather than basic care. Two years ago a resolution at the annual congress of the Royal College of Nursing proposed that nurses were now “too clever to care” and suggested that the compassionate part of their job should be delegated to healthcare assistants. The provocative motion was a reference to nurses increasingly concentrating on technical duties.”

The way that language * in bold italics here* is used in a country where political correctness is the order of the day, along with the rest of the article, I find it really naughty. Absolutely demeans the value of nursing and I suspect the reason behind the culture of disdain to what is now being perceived as old-school or traditional nursing:

Washing or feeding a patient is not posh or clever.

I have to admit, I have met quite a few nurses with this kind of mentality and they are usually not the clever ones. They don’t see the theory behind the importance of hygienics – the science concerned with the prevention of illness and maintenance of health, or nutrition, but see it merely as hands on activity not worth wasting a few brain cells with. They are also the ones who always like to nip out for a ciggie all the time as if that doesn’t waste a few of their brain cells but that is just my stupid theory, and I don't mean to diss people who smoke. Everyone's got a right to have cancer. As long as you get your work done, it's a free country.

I also see really brainy nurses who don’t wash patients. They only assess and make diagnoses (and debate with doctors) like Nurse Ratchet. They are a pain in the ass.

Fortunately, there are still a lot of proper nurses, especially in ICU who are very, very skilled, technically savvy, they could set-up a Galileo Ventilator and a PICCO machine blindfolded, line a Haemofilter in under a minute and still back –up all the data files of the main computer server, yet would be happy to do mouth care, eye care every four hours, make everyone a cup of tea, wash a patient at the end of the shift, then recite Shakespeare’s Sonnets backwards from 154 down to 1. But that is in Critical Care where if possible, patient to staff ratio is kept at 1:1.





In the wards, you see an entirely different picture. A Picasso painting of an abattoir where more than 30 patients are lying in their own filth, relatives curbing a fantasy to kill and one single nurse running round like a headless chicken.

So yeah, no smiley face here.

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27 Comments:

Anonymous may said...

as i've said in my latest post...i have been to nursing school like everybody else, but i have never heard of a rule that exempts nurses from taking care of the patients' needs. whatever those needs are.

if there is such a rule =, i'm so glad i was asleep when it was taught, because at least i am not jaded about what i really am there for...the patients' needs.

9:49 AM  
Blogger howling said...

You are absolutely right may... but I can also understand if some of the nurses can not also do their job properly. Especially those who work in the wards who have obscene loads of paperwork to deal with and staff-patient ratio is appalling. Nightmare. They definitely deserve more than just a hot drink and a biscuit. It's ludicrous.

:(

1:18 PM  
Blogger Momel said...

My last encounter with nurses was altogether an unpretty sight.

They were interns.

I was recovering from an appendectomy.

I wished I was in better hands.

So I screamed and shouted and told them to get me a registered nurse.

I mean, I was recovering from an appendectomy, so that probably gives me an excuse to look like filth.

That being said, I take back what I said about it being an unpretty sight.

Cheers!

10:49 PM  
Blogger Spirit of 1976 said...

I think you've summarised nicely some of the reasons why I think the "too posh to wash"/"too clever to care" label is utter cobblers.

If a nurse is running around an overcrowded, understaffed ward like a headless chicken, then I think it's a bit rich to complain that the reason basic care is failing is because she's "over-educated". Nothing at all to do with being over-worked and under-resourced then.

I'm currently in the final year of a mental health nursing degree, and I don't think that I've spent the last two-and-a-bit years learning how to write witty deconstructions of Kafka. I've been learning to spend time with patients, build up their trust, develop a therapeutic relationship...all the things a good mental health nurse should be doing. The only problem is that on a busy acute psychiatric ward, the sheer numbers of things that have to be done by an RMN and only an RMN (assessments, discharge plans, attending ward rounds, supervising the meds) winds up leaving very little time to actually do those worthy things.

I also agree with you that those nurses who most fit into the "too clever to care" tag are actually the ones who aren't really all that clever. The most intelligent nurses are usually trying to find imaginative ways to guarantee a bit of time to spend with patients and away from the mountain of paperwork.

12:10 AM  
Blogger Alternati said...

I've always liked nurses more than doctors. Doctors tend to be heartless deliverers of bad news.

I never knew about this phenomena in the nursing world. Is it also true that there is a sort of gap between nurses and doctors? Like a superiority complex?

Do you make the art in your posts? I love em.

12:14 AM  
Blogger howling said...

To scream and shout is absolutely reasonable behaviour that's expected from you momel.. Definitely apropos coming from someone who is perhaps in pain? You had appendectomy, didn't you? You didn't have a foetus grown in a wrong place of your body part and had a pretty buggered hysterectomy? Because that would have been very, very unpleasant.

I'd be really scared to be your nurse. Hahaha!!!

Honestly, you have all the right to scream for a nurse. Especially when the supply of them back 'home' overwhelms the demand. But mind you, lots of them there enlist themselves freely without pay... So maybe it's alright to feel a bit guilty.

:)

5:00 AM  
Blogger howling said...

Thanks for the comments spirit of 1976, we could do with a witty nurse in ITU. You are really, really spot on... Hell yeah! With resounding vocals plus heavy indie guitar riffs.

I can understand why you've chosen the mental health path... I have a few RMN friends. I have reservation re: personal saftety issues, but they kept telling me that you even get a much higher chance getting stabbed at the back of an ambulance or at Accident& Emergency.

Never mind Kafka... You guys got loads on your plate. Although, I've read somewhere he wrote 'The Stoker' and 'The Judgement' in a single night of frenzied creativity.

5:21 AM  
Blogger howling said...

"I've always liked nurses more than doctors."

Thanks, alternati. That is really lovely, coming from a customer of health service. There had been lots of ugly publicity regarding the National Health Service in this country lately, but they are more targeted to the System as a whole and not to doctors and nurses. They work hand in hand to effect desirable changes in the way it should be delivered to the people.

It is unfortunate that it's always the doctors who deliver the bad news. And no, the smartest ones don't often have a superiority complex. I often try to help by painting a slightly darker picture to patient or family myself. It is not fair to give them false hopes. Sometimes it is easy to cling to the littlest positive side but often difficult to accept a really harsh reality. Being honest works all the time. Shortens the process. Less painful in the end. Always the paradox: you have to be a bit cruel to be kind.

Artwork: some of them are made using fancy corking fonts. Them dingbats and wingdings are quite nifty to have. The rest I painstakingly sketch using a really cheap old tablet and pen, which I'm still struggling to use properly.

5:59 AM  
Blogger kate loving shenk said...

food for thought!!

and thanks for this!

here's a link to my weekly newsletter for nurses:

http://www.nursingcareertransformation.com/
simplenewslettersignup.html

peace (of mind)

kate loving shenk

11:54 AM  
Anonymous ferdz said...

I love this line "I don't mean to diss people who smoke. Everyone's got a right to have cancer" Hehehe. That's a nice way of putting it.

I'm not surprised that there are some nurses who would rather do admin work than get their hands dirty. Especially here in the Phil where a lot of People take up nursing just to work abroad and earn.

But good thing though that there are still those who are still dedicated to what nursing is all about - Caring.

5:42 PM  
Blogger howling said...

"But good thing though that there are still those who are still dedicated to what nursing is all about - Caring."

You are absolutely right ferdz.
A pay rise won't hurt as well.

Thanks for dropping by!!!

:)

6:37 AM  
Blogger beajerry said...

I'm gonna put that picture on a t-shirt.

7:55 AM  
Blogger howling said...

Yes you can beajerry, by all means.

Thanks for your latest post! I may need to reassess my semi-moderate attitude to spiritual bs from 'The Holy Nursing God' myself... I'll try to get hold of that Sam Harris book.

Cheers!!!

:)

6:53 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

If you include this totally irrelevant comment, this post has now generated as much comments as the previous post on the evil sperm (contrary to what you thought). And more to come (Pardon the pun; it's more appropriate for the previous post), I guess. Hehehe.
Just passing by.

7:10 PM  
Blogger howling said...

Oh, yeah!!! Thanks nick... good versus evil. I'm bewildered.

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