What Nurses Wish You Knew

Forget the doctors. Who knows what really goes on in a hospital? The nurses. We convened dozens of the region’s best and asked them everything we’ve always wondered about: How can I get the most out of the health-care system? How do I choose an end-of-life advocate? What do you think of Google-diagnosing? How about “Nurse Jackie”? And are you going to get mad at me if I buzz you again?

22 // Quality care ≠ fast care // In our world of high-speed Internet, tweets and iPads, slow means bad—but not when it comes to health care, says Jefferson’s Jude Andrews: “If you don’t get the answer right away, you think something is wrong or we’re not doing our job.” But it takes time to listen to your symptoms or give you the right discharge instructions.

23 // Nurses are guys, too // While women still make up the majority of the nursing workforce, some six percent of RNs are dudes. “It’s amazing that peopl­e still think of nursing as only female,” says Michael Becker. “I can’t tell you how many times in the last five years a patient will be on the phone when I come in with medications and say, ‘I gotta go, hon. My doctor is here.’ I’m ‘the doctor’ because I’m a guy.” Oh yeah—and women are doctors, too.

24 // It’s a privilege to take care of you when you can’t take care of yourself // This is the thing about nurses: They look at the world in a completely different way from you and me. “Nurses are willing to go along with the suffering,” Joanne Hambleton says. “It takes a lot to be there while someone suffers.” That’s a gift nurses have. While the rest of us run away from pain and horror, they run toward it. Barbara Riegel tells her students that they need to learn to shut up and listen. “We always feel we have to fix things,” Theresa Pody says. “Sometimes you don’t have to fix anything. You just have to be there.”

25 // They’re with you till the end // Very few of us have ever been with someone who died. Nurses have. And that moment, the one that draws a line between when a person is and then isn’t, is … powerful. “You touch that body, you see the suffering, you talk to the family,” says Mary Walton. “It takes a huge emotional toll.” Ask how nurses deal, and you’ll get a quick joke—black humor’s big, they say. But for them, death is familiar, even comfortable; they live with it every day.

 

MEMBERS OF OUR PANEL

Linda Aiken RN, PhD, FAAN, FRCN, Penn School of Nursing
Jude Andrews RSN, OCN, BSN, Jefferson
Michael Becker  RN, MSN, CCRN, Presbyterian
Kathleen Black  RN, PhD, Widener University School of Nursing
Angela Cantwell  RN-BC, BSN, Einstein
Nancy Cawley RN, BSN, Mercy Fitzgerald
Annemarie Deeley RN, BSN, Pennsylvania
Mary Del Guidice  RN, MSN, BS, NE-C, Pennsylvania
Judith Faust  BSN, MBA, Einstein
Lorie Fosbenner  RN, BSN, Presbyterian
Kathleen Gorman  RN, MSN, CHOP
Joanne Hambleton RN, MSN, E-BC, Fox Chase
Molly Hayden RN, MSN, Mercy Fitzgerald
Douglas Hughes  RN, MBA, FACHE, Paoli
Margaret Iacobacci  RN, CS, CRNP, AOCN, BSN, MSN, CNOR, Lankenau
Linda Jacobs  RN, PhD, CRNP, AOCN, Penn School of Nursing
Nicole Jastrzebski  RN, BSN, Mercy Philadelphia
Karen King-Shannon  RN, Mercy Philadelphia
Karyn Kling  RN, BSN, CRRN, MossRehab
Marilina Mancini  RN, Mercy Philadelphia
Andrea Marino  RN, MSN, CCRN, Doylestown
Mary Naylor  RN, PhD, FAAN, Penn School of Nursing
AnnMarie Papa  DNP, RN, CEN, NE-BC, FAEN, HUP
Theresa Pody  NE-BC, RN, MSN, Fox Chase
Victoria L. Rich  RN, PhD, FAAN, HUP
Barbara Riegel  RN, DNSc, FAAN, FAHA, HUP
JoAnn Silcox  RN, MSN, Jefferson
Jaime Stazi  RN, BSN, Jefferson
Nancy Marie Valentine  RN, MSN, PhD,  MPH, FAAN, FNAP, Main Line Health
Karen Velez  RN, BSN, Doylestown
Mary Walton RN, MSN, MBE, HUP
Marianne Watson RN, HUP
Betsie Williams BSN, RNC, Pennsylvania
 

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