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Perceptions of nurses around the world

bubblesI was at work the other day. I was in the Pre-Op area for the morning.

For those of you who are not aware, I currently work in a small-community hospital in the PACU. Along with my Recovery Room duties, I also ‘moonlight’ helping out in the Pre-Operative stage of surgery. We do the Pre-Op checklist, JCAHO mandated requirements as well as hospital-driven requirements to ensure patient safety is first and foremost as well as certify everyone involved in the surgical process is on the ‘same page’ so-to-say.

So there I am asking all the typical questions.

“Can you tell me your full name, birth date?”

“Do you have any allergies?”

“What are you having done today?”

(This list is virtually endless – I’ll spare you)- check, check and re-check.

The required banter is over. Now the patient and I have the infamous ‘downtime’ before they are met by the next set of nurses / physicians.

This is the ‘Hurry-Up-And-Wait’ stage = You need to work at light speed to get everything in order so that when the time is right (meaning when the surgeon arrives and is ready) we can get the patient moving down to the OR.

“This is the worst part” – I always tell the patients. “Once they roll you down to the OR , the next thing you’ll remember or realize is your waking up and it’s all over.”

When time permits (meaning someone didn’t pull me to do something else, or another patient did not require my attention or services) I usually pass some of these ‘clock-watching’ moments with striking up a conversation. These conversations usually involve poking fun at the oh-so obvious surrendering of ‘control’ when a person undergoes surgery, but it can involve anything under the sun.

This may sound crazy, but I often forget the fact that I’m a ‘MALE‘ nurse. I simply view myself as a ‘nurse’. I don’t introduce myself as, “Hi, My name is Sean. I’ll be your male nurse today.” Maybe it’s ignorance.. or maybe it’s me subliminally coercing everyone around me not to ‘recognize’ me as their ‘male’ nurse. I don’t know.

All I do know is that when I get the comments from patients about being a male nurse, I always have to stop and put myself in their shoes. (Which is hard sometimes)

On this particular day my patient jests to me, “My friend in China could not believe there were male nurses?!”

….

….

(This is me trying to convey the moment of silence after this statement was made)

“Oh….”

“Uh….”

“Really?..”

The patient clarifies, “Yeah, I’ve been here before. So when he heard about you male nurses he was so shocked. He couldn’t believe there were male nurse”

I replied in my most professional voice I could muster, “Yes. There are a lot of us. Far more than most realize.”

“And we’re here to stay” – I proudly grinned as I was called into another room.

We all live in our own ‘bubble’ of reality – no matter how small that bubble may be.

Hi. My name is Sean. I’ll be your nurse today.

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