Thank God I’m a nurse


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Yes, there are politics when you’re a nurse, but nothing like the politics you’ll find in other professions.

Take my father, the academic, for example. He once wondered aloud what it was that made me the only nurse in a family of academics. He answered his own question to his own satisfaction with the observation that I’m the only one who was ever good at math (my 9th grade algebra teacher is staring in disbelief), and has let the subject lie since then.

I had dinner with the Sainted Mother and Honored Father tonight. I was once again reminded, during the course of the meal, how very glad I am that I’m a nurse.

See, Dad was talking about academic politics and who gets what professorship and what one’s ranking in the department was dependent on, and how that was affecting this, that and the other thing. And I was sitting there, alternately casting my eyes Heavenward and thinking, “Y’know, if some jackass tried that sh*t around me, they’d never set foot in my unit again.”

Even though there’s politics involved in my job, it’s not the sort that touches your average floor nurse. Even though there’s the little matter of the state budget or the little matter of the performance improvement scores or the tiny issue of staffing, I’m generally immune to everything besides the delta between Patients Alive at 0700 and Patients Alive at 1900. Less than one is good. One or more needs explanation.

I grew up in academia. I was the world’s best paper-writer in college, having been inducted early into the world of poundage of production equaling quality of execution. Becoming a nurse, with its no-bullsh*t, no-slack way of looking at the world, was a shock. People told you things once and expected you to remember them! There were immediate consequences to your actions! Screwing up was not something you could put in an errata notice in the next edition!

It’s very comforting. You’re either breathing or you’re not. You either have the chops or you don’t. Mediocrity is not something that can be hidden, and crazy-pants behavior doesn’t last long on the unit. Every problem, no matter how complex, becomes simple once you break it down into its component parts. You cannot argue with an arterial blood gas result.

Thank God I’m a nurse. Maybe the academic world needs more of us, running around like badgers with chainsaws.

What makes you thank God you’re a nurse?!?!

Originally posted on the Head Nurse blog.

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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