When is a nurse not a nurse?

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No, this isn’t some existential topic of conversation. I’m not about to get all ‘philosophical’ on ya.

OK.. Maybe just a lil.

To all my fellow nurse-warriors out there fighting the good fight (yeah, I made that word up), when are you not a nurse? When are you just you? When do you get to be unprofessional and just let loose? Live it up a lil’ and go crazy?

Is it when you clock out from work (that is if you still do such a thing – and are not a salaried employee)?

Is it when you are simply not ‘at work’?

Is it when you are on vacation?

Maybe you’re just not ‘a nurse’ when you don’t wear the scrubs?

I mean seriously, when you’re out with your family and friends, or maybe when you’re out just running some errands you surely can’t be a nurse then can you?

When is a nurse not a nurse?

The answer: Never.

Once you are a nurse, are employed, and your career is being a nurse- you are never NOT a nurse (yeah, yeah.. a double negative – heh heh).

Sorry folks. Once you get the title, it sticks with you wherever you go. You signed up for this gig and now you have to abide by its rules.

As a nurse, you have accepted the role of a professional. You must be a professional and maintain your professionalism wherever life takes you. Yes, that’s in and out of work.

It sounds a little odd and slightly unfair, but that’s what separates us. All professionals have to act accordingly. If you want to be treated with the respect that other professionals receive, then by golly ya better start actin’ the part.

Does this mean you don’t get to have fun? Does it mean you can’t ‘let your hair down’ (for those of us who have hair)? Good grief no. What it does mean is you no longer get a free pass. Your actions no longer just affect you, but have a ripple-like affect on your patients, your co-workers, your employer, etc…. your career as a whole.

This mostly applies to Facebook, Twitter, and all things concerning your social media circles (but it doesn’t rule out any other activities). Your actions have consequences.

Think it doesn’t matter? Directly, sure it probably doesn’t. But what you do out there is witnessed. What you ‘post’ out there is read. What you ‘share’ out there will be seen. The question is, who is seeing it? Are your patients? How about your employers? How about your co-workers? How about family members of your patients? If you don’t think it matters, the next time you are thinking about applying for a new job, or new position remember that 1 in 5 current employers search social networking sites to screen job candidates.

Let’s put it into perspective. How would you feel if your doctor (yes, your PCP) was gallivanting around their social media circles with some questionable (possibly rude) behaviors. How would your opinion and trust of them change?

We professionals are charged with setting an example, not becoming one.

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