labor nurse has been reborn and shares her experiences as a new nurse-midwife, woman, and blogger

Friday, May 9, 2008

Nurse's Day Revisited

I think it's nurse's week, or nurse's day, or some such hokey celebratory crack pot. If you haven't gathered by now, I don't like nurse's day. This is what I used to think, courtesy of Life & Times:

Did you know that this week is National Nurse Week? May 6th is the official Nurse's Day but it is now a full week. I've always wondered the history of Nurse's Day. Did it come from Hallmark much like Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparent's Day, etc? Or did it come from an advocacy movement to make the public more aware of nursing?
I must say I have a love-hate relationship with this holiday. I love that perhaps someone will acknowledge what nurses do and what we have to offer. And I hate how hokey it all is.
My first Nurse's Day as an RN consisted of the Director of Nursing standing in the lobby of the facility handing out bandage scissors. I got to choose which color handle I wanted. I chose purple and still carry them around in my pocket at work, so it was clearly a useful gift. But I remember the look on the DON's face as she was passing these out: Ya, I know this is really cheap but it would be cheaper if we did nothing.
The next few Nurse's Day come up blank. I can't remember any of the festivities surrounding the holiday at subsequent places of employment. The only one I can remember outside of my current job was during my mental breakdown of 2002 when I decided I was all done with nursing. Of course, as you know I am still a nurse, but those 6 weeks I decided to make an impromptu mental health vacation was probably one of the better Nurse's Day festivities I've had.
Oh wait, I just remembered that I did get a plastic cup one year saying I am a valued employee. And yes, I still use it.
My current job hangs a big banner saying "Nurse's Week" at the main entrance. They offer us a free continental breakfast one day during the week, which many don't make it to for the obvious reasons: we are too busy to take the break to leave the unit.

In just one year I feel totally different about it. In the ten years I've been a nurse I've yet to see a national advocacy campaign that had reached the general public that isn't hokey. And what is bothering me more these days is how unprofessional some of the nurse's day things and other paraphernalia are. For instance, t-shirts with "Nurse's call the shots" or sweatpants with "RN" across the ass. Syringe pens. And my latest favorite: scrub tops with iPod pockets, c'mon! What nurse is wearing an iPod while she/he works? Oh wait...I can't believe I forgot this...I actually saw a nurse wearing one with the device sitting in the little pocket designed specifically for it. It was at my clinical site, and I almost said something.

I admit that as a new nurse I was guilty of owning a few of these items. I had a syringe pen; I remember it totally sucked. The ink was blotching and the "medication" in the syringe dried up. I even had a co-ed naked t-shirt that said something like "Nurse's stick butts" or something like that while I was in college (they were big back then, what can I say?). I guess my enthusiasm for my fledgling career needed to be expressed in hokey items.

But not any more. I cringe when I get scrubs catalogs in the mail and see Tweety Bird and Scooby Doo. I cringe even more when I see nurses wearing these scrubs, especially when they don't work in pediatrics. This shit is so unprofessional. If we want to better the profession of nursing, uplift it's image, we need to stop looking like we are wearing our teeny bopper pajamas to work. We could use nurse's day or week (or whatever we want to call the time frame) to show the public the value of nursing and that it takes a professional to do the great nursing things we do.


Paula said...

What uniform would you have if you could change it?

Labor Nurse said...

Paula, I am assuming you mean what sort of universal uniform should nurses wear. I think a solid color scrub set is fine. But none of these low waist, flip waistband type pants, or belly baring scrub tops. It looks unprofessional.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on some points--the RN on the ass particularly. And the ipod pocket is a bit weird. But, when I go to a doctor's office (or hospital), as a patient, I actually like it when the nurses/techs/MAs are wearing happy, bright colored scrubs--cartoon characters don't bother me one bit. Adult hospitals are so dreary, and fun scrubs can cheer things up a bit.

Wrt to the scrubs, I agree with the belly baring, but why can't someone wear low waisted pants if that is what they are more comfortable in? High waisted scrub pants fall down on me, making me look like I have a really long crotch, and I don't think that looks very professional either. So long as someone's tummy isn't showing, I don't really see how you'd be able to tell if someone is wearing high or low rise pants anyway.

Iris said...

Wow, iPod pockets for scrubs...I'm with you on this one - who has the time to listen to music while they are working?

At first I wanted to get those cute scrubs with cartoons on them, but now I want something more professional, like solid colors. I definitely want my future patients and co-workers to see me as a professional.

Just Me said...

I'm a therapist, not a nurse, but I actually have the opposite idea with colorful scrubs.

Granted, I work in nursing homes. Nursing homes are obviously long-term for most people, and generally they are drab. People aren't getting visitors, flowers, balloons, cards, etc. routinely. Often even the meals are drab colored.

When I realized this, very early in my career, I decided to try to wear scrubs that had cheerfulness. Generally I wear floral patterns and blue bottoms, although when given cartoons I've worn them and patients have liked them.

I normally am a very plain and solid color gal in "real life".

The scrubs that I think are most loud tend to be the ones my patients compliment the most.

I do agree that scrubs should be well-covering, but then again, right now I have no pants that fit correctly. I have lots of choices of sizes, but thanks to side effects of meds my belly is distended and I have to wear too large pants to cover it.

No Ipods though!

Anonymous said...

I'm fine with everything from scrubs to uniforms to nurse's white dresses, maybe not the hat though. Something charming and old fashioned about the whites.