5 things nurses wish the public knew


Hemera | ThinkStock + Scrubs

Hemera | ThinkStock + Scrubs

Over on The Nerdy Nurse, guest blogger Jenna recently rounded up her list of top facts she wishes people knew about Health 101. With all the medical and scientific inaccuracies repeated online, on the news and in casual conversation, the public is often fed untruths that can be, well, pretty scary! And despite compelling research to the contrary, people continue to speculate on and spread these falsehoods.

Here are three of her top facts she wishes the public knew:

1. Vaccines do not cause autism

Even though the connection between vaccines and autism was based on a single poorly-researched paper and has since been thoroughly debunked, parents continue to ask their pediatricians whether they can skip their new baby’s vaccinations.

This is one of the worst things you can do to your infant. Skipping vaccinations means your baby is now eligible to contract known deadly diseases like measles and diptheria. At this point, parents tend to mumble something about “herd immunity,” but in fact the opposite is happening: unvaccinated children have reintroduced measles into schools and daycares. A disease that had been nearly eradicated is now a renewed threat, thanks to unvaccinated children.

Get your children vaccinated. The vaccines do not cause autism and they prevent your baby from becoming deathly ill.

2. Pharmaceutical companies are not evil

I know that drugs are expensive and I know that they sometimes come with side effects. However, this does not mean that pharmaceutical companies are out to get you. Formulation development is a lengthy and complex process, and the pharmaceutical companies are doing everything they can to produce as many safe and effective drugs as possible. 

Despite the claims of the herbalists and natural medicine supporters, it is not that easy to create a medicine that alters one part of your body chemistry while leaving other chemical reactions untouched, safely enclosed in a pill designed to time-release the medicine at a precise rate. It’s difficult and complicated to develop, test and mass-produce effective medicines, and pharmaceutical companies are owed respect, not the fear or irrational, begrudging hatred that many people seem to give them.

3. Seriously, you need to sleep

Which is worse for drivers: getting drunk or going 21 hours without sleep? Surprisingly, it’s the latter. 21 hours isn’t even a full day, and yet by that point your brain is operating as if it were legally drunk. Combine that with the hormonal adjustments that make you increasingly irritable, unable to focus and – counter-intuitively – less likely to relax, and you’re a worse driver than the drunk who got his keys taken away.

Unfortunately, no one takes your keys away when your tired. Nor do people tell you that for every day you get fewer than five hours of sleep, you are 45% more likely to have a heart attack and 12% more likely to die of any health-related cause.

Read this infographic, charmingly titled “Sleep or Die.” It reminds me of the Eddie Izzard routine “Cake or Death.” I choose cake, and I choose sleep! I recommend you do the same.

To read the rest of The Nerdy Nurse’s list, head on over to the site. And be sure to tell us YOUR list of things you wish the public knew in the comments!

The Nerdy Nurse
Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN, also known as The Nerdy Nurse, is a Clinical Informatics Specialist practicing in Georgia. In her day job she gets to do what she loves every day: Combine technology and healthcare to improve patient outcomes. She can best be described as a patient, nurse and technology advocate, and has a passion for using technology to innovate, improve and simplify lives, especially in healthcare. Brittney blogs about nursing issues, technology, healthcare, parenting and various lifestyle topics at

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