Meet the nurse hospitals won't hire

Katie Duke, a nurse practitioner who is the host of a podcast called "Bad Decisions," an Instagram influencer, brand ambassador for Figs scrubs and a stand-up comedian, is not getting hired by hospitals, The Washington Post reported Feb. 21. 

During a comedy show in 2022, she told the audience, "Tonight is about some fun, it's all about some pretty offensive digs at the healthcare system, our government and our healthcare leadership." Her content pushes back on traditional expectations about what a nurse is and how they should act, according to the Post.

Ms. Duke's balancing act — needing to be a hospital NP to be relevant for her audience while making digs at the healthcare system — is teetering. In 2010, she was an ER nurse at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital featured on ABC's docuseries "NY Med," which helped eventually launch her fame. 

In 2013, she told the Post she was abruptly fired after posting a photo of the ER after the staff saved a man hit by a subway train. There were no people in the Instagram post, but the caption read, "Man vs. 6 train." Ms. Duke said she wanted to show "the amazing things doctors and nurses do to save lives … the f—ing real deal."

The post did not violate HIPAA, but she said her director called it insensitive and unprofessional before security escorted her out.

She said the caption was "cold," but added the public should see nursing culture as it is: "That's ER speak," Ms. Duke told the Post. "We say 'head injury in room five.' We don't say 'Mr. Smith in room five.' We talk and think by mechanism of injury." 

Many hospitals are navigating the terrain of having their workers be popular online. In January, a plastic surgeon's license was suspended after live-streaming procedures. The month prior, four nurses were no longer employed at an Atlanta hospital after posting an "icks" video complaining about maternity patients.

The "real deal" Ms. Duke wants to share may be hindering her hireability. Her application to a Mount Sinai hospital in New York got stalled. A 13-week contract with a NewYork-Presbyterian hospital ended on day two, after the recruiter called and said hospital administration said she "wasn't a good fit." 

Both hospitals declined to comment on the Post's story. 

During this uncertainty in her hospital nursing career, she was advocating for the profession on Capitol Hill and beginning sponsorships with, Pfizer and Tommy John before working full-time at a health-tech startup, according to the Post

She wants to return, but hospitals may not want that.  

"I want to have it both ways," Ms. Duke told the Post. "I wish I could work at a hospital that would allow me to take great care of patients and help train and educate new people coming on board and, at the same time, use my platform as an opportunity to spread awareness about the value of nurses and supported working environments and safe staffing. But that's just unrealistic."

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