No, You Can NOT Ask.

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Ever feel like people see you as completely one-dimensional? Like you are the all-knowing nurse who can answer all questions, all the time?


I am still amazed by how most of the people I encounter outside of work have no understanding of what nurses really do–and how specific those jobs are. I’m a labor and delivery nurse–so if you don’t have a baby about to come out of your vagina, I really can’t help you with your medical issues. There, I said it. Should I tattoo that disclaimer on my forehead?

There are so many times, when I have someone ask me a medical question, that I want to respond with something like this:

Would you go to a podatrist for your yearly pap smear? Would you get an xray of your chest for a tooth ache? No? Then why are you asking me, a labor and delivery nurse, about the corn on your toe? About the rash on your penis? If I can help you change your colostomy? It is not that I don’t want to help–I don’t know how to help you. I don’t know if you have broken your arm, if you need antibiotics for the drainage coming from your nose…and no, I can NOT write you a prescription. Go to a doctor, ok?

And then there are all the pregnant women who corner me and talk of nothing else. I love my job, people, but I am not ON 24/7, believe it or not. Look, I love to talk OB but I also like to be a normal person who discusses the weather.

What is so difficult boundary-wise is that I would like to be able to help people who come to me with all their other medical problems, but I am just not qualified. And no matter how many times I explain it, I still get the same old, “Hey, Amy, you are a nurse, can I ask you a question?” To which I am learning to reply, after a quick explanation, “Um, no.”

The reality is that a firm “No” is protecting this nurse’s license!

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