My 3 nursing wishes


iStock | fergregory
iStock | fergregory

If a genie suddenly appeared out of the bag of Zosyn you were shaking up, what would you wish for? A million dollars? World peace? A cure for cancer? A pony?

I would wish for much more basic things. Here are my three wishes for that genie, if he ever appears (and when he does, he’d better be blue and sound like Robin Williams):

1. I wish that all managers in any branch of nursing would have to work a minimum of four shifts a month with the people they manage. Imagine what good that would do: People with MBAs might suddenly realize that there really is a difference between cardiac and med-surg nursing, for example, or that operating rooms don’t suddenly clear themselves just because somebody overbooked the schedule. The effect would be most noticeable in places where frontline nursing is really frontline—public health clinics, nursing homes and the general wards of county hospitals.

2. I wish that advanced nursing degrees were more finely separated between the people who want to manage and the people who just want to get better at, or advance in, their profession. There is no need in the world for me to get a master’s degree in nursing if the majority of my studies are in management. I don’t give a tinker’s damn about nursing theory; I’m still shaky on such things as heart sounds or proper percussion of the abdomen. Let the people who want to manage study management and the people who want better clinical skills study anatomy. No good can come from trying to be all things to all students.

3. I wish that legislators and politicians from every level, from the city commissioners to the Senate, would follow each of us for a week. I would love to see some of our current crop of presidential candidates help turn a patient who’s had a giant mycotic aneurysm bleed because she’s had no dental care for a decade. I would also love to see some of those folks who want to cut funding for basic healthcare wiping the butts of the people those cuts would most affect. I would happily spend three 12-hour shifts with any candidate to make a point.

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing letters and going to conferences and voting. But gosh-golly, don’t I wish a genie would appear the next time I have to massage a Pyxis CUBIE!

Agatha Lellis
Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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