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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5 Responses to When is a nurse not a nurse?

  1. Rebecca

    You are right but don’t you ever feel like an overstuffed shirt with all of the “professionalism”? We are human being prone to error. I find it really hard to maintain perfection 24/7! This is a free country and people should be able to be themselves and not have to pretend to the world that they are superheros. I agree with social media and being professional with what you throw out there. But some of it is up for interpretation to the viewer also. An innocent joke can be misconstrued as offensive and, also, if a person has a problem with that other person it will be used against them. I personally think professionalism has gone too far for people who dedicate their lives to helping others…most of them don’t deserve to be squished into someone elses idea of a box.

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      @ Rebecca You make a very valid point. The interpretation is always up for debate. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Rosie O

    “if you still do such a thing?” Yes, Sean, sorry to say, we worker-be staff nurses are still hourly. So much for being treated as a “professional”.

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      @ Rosie There are a great many readers out there that do not physically clock in and out. So yes, I was addressing all our readers with that statement. Sorry if it somehow offended you.

  3. domino1

    Hi, I was fired from a job of 9 years and I am having trouble finding another job in nursing. I filed a grievance against my manager and I won the grievance but I am still having trouble getting my foot in the door. I did not harm anyone-just to be clear. My manager was fired a few months later since she had ever fired or let 18 people leave our facility. I am a nurse with 26 years experience who wants to get back to acute care in the hospital. I have never had any trouble with a manager before in my life and I have been working for a really long time. Does anyone out there have any advise? good nurse looking for a good job