14 things nurses wish the mainstream media knew

Shutterstock | Blazej Lyjak
Shutterstock | Blazej Lyjak

It’s clear by what was said by a few prominent members of the media last week that although nurses are the most respected profession, they are still misunderstood and unappreciated by the mainstream media. Nurses reacted to the criticism in what can only be described as a viral social movement, proving that nursing is a strong and mighty profession.

At the end of the day, the comments said by the individuals were ignorant and petty, but there is a shiny, silver lining for the nursing profession. It has been a hot topic in the media for almost two weeks now, and the spotlight has given the nursing community an opportunity to have a real conversation about how they’re misrepresented and try to elicit some positive change.

We asked our community of nurses to tell us what they want the media to understand about the nursing community. Here are some of the responses we received:

1. “That we are not ‘sexy nurses.’ We are not there to fluff your pillows. And we are not your personal maid. I wish mainstream media would stop portraying us like this.” —Alexandra C.

2. “That men like me are RNs and people need to stop stereotyping male nurses!” —Rob M.

3. “Nursing is the hardest job you will ever love. The patients and families can drain you physically, emotionally and mentally. You give all your heart and soul to caring for people at their worst moments and celebrate the joys with them as well. It is a very rewarding profession. I’ve been a nurse for almost 23 years and I still enjoy it very much.” —Nikki S.

4. “It’s not something everyone can do; you’ve got to have empathy [and] compassion, and be caring and nurturing. They can’t teach you that in nursing schools.” —Kimberly C.

5. “It’s not a job where you sit and drink tea ALL DAY, which many seem to believe. A glass of water in a shift would be a godsend.” —Shannon M.

6. “Just because we left your room does not mean we’re not working!” —Mani M.

7. “It is not all cutesy glamour and money for us. It’s hours and years of schooling, often missing time with family and friends. It’s dedication and the love we put into each assessment we do, each story we listen to, each physical ailment complaint we hear and act on. Long hours with no breaks. It’s unhappy families, grouchy doctors, broken equipment, a lack of supplies, no snacks for diabetics, etc. Enough said.” —Vicki B.

8. “Exactly how hard it is to become one. No other degree has a failing grade of 78. Or if you don’t pass a dosage exam with a 100 percent, you are kicked out of your program. It’s incredibly hard to become a nurse.” —Mindy G.

9. “We are not pill pushers. We are not bedpan pushers. We are highly trained in keeping you alive and we are an integral part of the medical team. We do not wait for the doctor to tell us what to do; we all work together to get you through.” —Jo Y.

10. “It’s a lot more demanding than it looks on TV.” —Mark R.

11. “Doctors manage your disease; we manage your response to the disease.” —Wendy O.

12. “I would like people to understand that a nurse doesn’t become a nurse to become a physician. We become nurses to be nurses.” —Angela P.

13. “That LPNs and RNs are not the same thing, and one is not ‘better’ than the other.” —Bethany L.

14. “I want the mainstream media to know that we are our own profession, not watered down doctors or medical maids. We have had a lot of both negative and positive publicity lately, and above all I would love for mainstream media simply to recognize that we work hard and love our work even more.” —Amorelle H.


We hope this conversation isn’t over. We’d like to hear from more nurses on what they wish more people knew about the nursing profession. Feel free to drop your thoughts in a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

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10 Responses to 14 things nurses wish the mainstream media knew

  1. Karen Southard RN RN

    Nursing is a great profession but also a talent and calling. We are there to keep you alive and well, we spend more time with you that the doctors, we are their eyes and ears, assessing and watching for any change in your condition that might be s sign of going bad, we teach you everything from what your condition is, the medicines used to treat it, signs and symptoms to watch for, dispense your medications and keep your pai. Under control. We forgo seeing to our own family members, as we work 24/7, never closing our doors.

  2. becila

    I wish people would realise that we are human. I know we sometimes appear like superheroes, but we are merely human and we can’t get your morphine instantly, we can’t full your water jug whilst in the middle of washing a patient, we can’t ring your relative this very minute, but we will do it because we care, just because we don’t do it instantly does not make us a bad nurse. And when people say “but the doctor said…..” just because the “doctor said” doesn’t mean you get it instantly either. We are human

  3. Lijane

    And… That we are not doctor’s assistants, or helpers! We have our own priorities and roll in caring for the patient… The doc and I need each other, to do our jobs. I work in critical care, where everything is based on my assessments and interactions with the patient….if I don’t catch that decreased level of consciousness or that arrhythmia, and recognize it for what it is… that doctor cannot respond to it. A good nurse will know what it is, what tests and assessment need to be done to confirm it, and anticipate the solution, so that no time is wasted in calls back and forth. It’s nice that the doctor orders a medication once I report the issue, but if I didn’t anticipate that he/she would, then I have delayed preparing the medication, and there might not be the necessary lines to give it. Those ten minutes can mean the difference between a poor outcome and a good one.

  4. Binky

    Growing up in the world of nursing I guess you could say it was destin to be that I to would become a nurse ….
    37 years ago I set off Ina journey called nursing knowing exactly what it was all about, I had a great role model I called her Mom!
    Her words of advice on nursing were simple, there are three types on nurses one who goes to work to collect a paycheck,second one who goes to work to collect a doctor so the paycheck is not necessary, and third and final the nurse who goes to work because she loves what she does, during her day to day routeins she makes a difference in those lives she touches… So honey when you go to the hospital who would you want to care for someone you love?
    Easy answer, right?

    • njcowgirl72

      Your Mom is a smart woman. I’ve been an RN for 36 years. I’ve seen all 3 of them! So do the patients

  5. njcowgirl72

    I’m a 3-11 nursing supervisor. I get most of the admissions. (/The paperwork is ungodly). & I get all the new nurses I have to train Plus I have to watch not only the nurses, but the CNA’s, dietary, housekeeping. Plus I answere the phone calls. I actually had a patient who said “do you really work?” I see you just sitting there or walking around. And I kind of get the same comments from the DON & Administrator

  6. Krystal Hubbard

    I have cared for women in OB/GYN, elderly in a nursing home setting, before moving to ambulatory care. I believe watching those die was the most difficult, you are emotionally attached to them and sometimes their families. The worst is watching an elderly person suffer at the end of their life all alone. It is such an emotionally, physically, and mentally draining profession, but at the same time rewarding. It takes hard work, dedication, compassion, intelligence, skills, lots of caring to be a nurse, whether you are LVN/LPN or RN, please don’t forget our hard working CNA’s.

  7. Richard Smith

    When I became an RN 37 years ago, being male was really a minority. We males had to tolerate the public’s image of us as “not being a real man “or being effeminate or gay. You young guys have it easier because of what we did to dispel this image. And we weren’t med school dropouts, we made a conscious decision to be Nurses.

  8. drumclan

    Patients and families should also know that nurses have no control over staffing and are often left in unsafe conditions. It is about money and not safe patient care. They should ask if there are enough nurses to care for them before they enter the hospital.
    Also, that nursing may not be a secure profession, you get called off, hours changed, and often it is hard to find a fulltime job depending on where you live.

  9. CBBBZ@aol.com

    Mainstream media does not realize that you don’t have a “single” boss. You are expected to meet expectations and goals as set by hospital management, the patients doctors, your nursing supervisor, the patient and their family. To which, the goals may or may not be at odds with each other. Now multiply that by 10 to 12 for every shift. I frequently find myself humming “Bring in the clones.”