3 nurses on the most misunderstood notions about their profession

Three nurses discuss what people tend to misunderstand most often about the profession.

Note: The following responses were edited for length and clarity.

Question: What is the most commonly misunderstood notion about nursing?

Jennifer Key. CNO at Piedmont Newnan (Ga.) Hospital: That 'all nurses are the same.' Just like in other medical professions, nurses have specializations, competencies and credentials. Examples include emergency medicine, oncology, pediatrics, labor and delivery, critical care, professor, executive and practitioner. The professional nurse has individual expertise that can be used to provide care in a variety of clinical settings.

Winter Chambers, RN-BC. Nurse Educator at Covenant Medical Center (Lubbock, Texas): The most commonly misunderstood notion about nursing is the thought nurses only follow doctors around and do whatever the doctor asks. Nurses are the last line of defense before a negative action takes place. If an order is entered incorrectly, and the nurse does not reason through the order and question the possible consequence of following through with the order, the patient could be harmed. Nurses are the patient's advocate. The voice of the nurse matters.

Connie Gonzales, RN. Nurse Manager, Critical Care at Covenant Medical Center (Lubbock, Texas): Nurses do a lot of physical labor during a 12-hour shift, and they get dirty. They also can take a lot of abuse from patients and families, despite being kind and compassionate, due to the nature of some illnesses or trauma to the patient. Luckily these things don't happen every day and we are able to have sacred encounters with our patients which fills our cup for those days that are not as rewarding.

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