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This past couple weeks I have had some time off and have been spending it with lay people—i.e. people who just don’t get what nurses do. It continues to astound me.

The constant theme of comments as of late go something like, “Amy, you must really enjoy taking care of those mamas and babies. You have such a fun job.” I have to bite my tongue before I blurt out that I don’t really like taking care of babies—I make sure they are stable and send them to the nursery OR if they are crunking out, I get the NICU peeps in the room to do their thing. I do, however, LOVE to take care of laboring women, and I make sure they don’t die during the process. Sweet, huh?

Then there was the friend who told me my job is so great because I can “just do it anywhere” and “drop it if you need to so you can raise your kids or even do something else like become a doctor.” Yeah, it would be great if all nurses just dropped their jobs—and better yet, stopped nursing to go to med school! (Insert sarcasm.)

Amazingly, people still do not see nursing as a profession!!! We are so misunderstood.

This makes me wonder how much the media is responsible for the portrayal of nurses. I constantly am told, after a mom gives birth, that, “Wow, that was nothing like it is in A Baby Story” or some other such “reality” show about childbirth. I love how on those shows, labor takes about an hour, you never see the nurses, and everything turns out peachy in the end.

It would be wonderful to do a twelve hour real “reality” TV show and go through a nurses day, hour by hour. I think it would surprise the public. After all, my patients also tell me over and over, after they have their babies, that they had no idea how much impact the nurse has on the whole experience. But that sentiment tends to get lost; I don’t think lay people really comprehend our role. How can they? Even my husband says he feels disconnected from my work because he has never seen me in action. He just does not know what I really do!

It would be great to hear more about nurses as the true heroes they are—and not that I want people to sing my praises. We need more awareness so we can better do our jobs as the professionals we are, don’t you think?

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Amy Bozeman

Amy is many things: a blogger, a nurse, a wife, a mom, a childbirth educator. She started her journey towards a career in nursing when she got pregnant with her first child. After nursing school and studying "like she has never studied before" she entered the nursing profession eager to get her feet wet. The first years provided her with much exposure to sadness, joy and other complex human emotions. She feels that blogging is a wonderful outlet and a way for nurse bloggers to further build their community. Traditionally, midwives have handed down their skill set from midwife to apprentice midwife. She believes nurses have this same opportunity: to pass from nurse to new nurse the rich traditions of this profession.

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8 Responses to Misunderstood

  1. Sherri 'Peppi' Launius-Pepitone

    Well, I wrote this to recognize my fellow Nurses this year for Nurses Week…. It tells part of the story anyway.


    What is being a Nurse really like?

    It’s like walking a tightrope with your hands in your pockets.

    You must do this, that and the other, without unbalancing the act.

    Nurses get to see so many things, patients come in hurt, afraid and vulnerable, or

    angry, confrontational and manipulative, and everything in between.

    We do the best that we can, with the resources we have, we listen, we cheer, we encourage,

    we set limits, we admonish and we educate.

    We hear ways to use cuss words we never knew existed,

    We get to listen to stories of people that have been married 60 years and how they met.

    We learn about famly fueds and dysfunction.

    We listen to young children’s fears, and teenagers anguish,

    sometimes they are wrapped up in anger and defiance, so we have to be detectives and counselors.

    We pull people from the edge of death, and sometimes they live, and sometimes they just exist, in a

    bruised and battered body with no real knowledge of where they are.

    We feel frustration and hope, anger and joy, and all the little points in between.

    We do our job, and beyond.

    We care, and we believe, we give and we receive, we comfort and we pray,

    and we work as a team to heal.

    We are the eyes and ears of not only the physician’s, but the families that cannot be there.

    We navigate the HIPPA laws….or try to, even through the angry phone calls.

    We get to hold the hand of the dying as they transition beyond this life

    and we hold the babies, gently, tenderly and guide them into this one.

    We get to do so many many things, be intimate with one person at a time,

    we change them, and they change us.

    Acknowledged sometimes, scolded, hit, cursed and called names at other times.

    It is hard, physically, emotionally, mentally.

    It is tearing down and building up.

    To be a Nurse…. It is life changing.

    And I am blessed.

  2. Sherri 'Peppi' Launius-Pepitone


  3. kelly martin

    I so agree! I wish they had a ‘bring your husband to work day” so he could see what we nurses are responsible for and how we multi task. If someone is not a nurse then they will never really understand all we do and how hard we work. We are so much more than “pill pushers” as I have been called by patients before.

  4. Carrie

    Do you think the recent “reality” show on Lifetime, “One Born Every Minute” was a better depiction of your job in labor & delivery?

    • Lenile Sargent

      It might be, but even still you can’t get all that we do in L&D in an hour.

  5. Lenile Sargent

    I hear you. I work, L&d, Nursery, & Mother/Baby-it’s a small rural hospital. My sister-in-law, who is teacher, has said “oh you’re not a real nurse, you just catch babies.” I’d like to see her and some of the other people-some of whom are doctors- labor a mom for 12 hours, reading and interpreting the fhm, hoping and praying that the baby doesn’t have another late because if that happens then we’re going for a stat section and you are trying to keep mom, dad and family as calm as can be, all the while getting mom ready for surgery. But, I do love my job.

  6. nursechristina

    This really hit home for me..just last night a patient said that nurses are just glorified ass wipers and his father told me there’s no thinking involved in a charge nurse it took all my patience to deal with these 2 in a professional manner..I can’t help but wonder if shows like House do more harm than good as their depiction of nursing is so hateful.

  7. Kathy

    I totally agree with all of you! I’m an operating room nurse and we get that all the time, sometimes from OUR OWN PROFESSION!!! A few of the PACU nurses thought we had such an easy job until one of them decided to switch to the OR and after just a couple weeks went back to Recovery because she just couldn’t do it!! She did tell everyone how difficult we have it, though! I also agree on a “bring your husband to work day!”. I think that would help tremendously!! Very good points made!