The "Nurses are Angels" Myth
Marijke Durning | NursingLink
October 19, 2010
“Nurses are so special, I just don’t know how you do it!”
“Nurses are angels, such special people.”
“Nurses are such selfless giving people, never thinking of themselves.”
How many times have you heard comments like these? How many of you cringe because either you don’t feel that you’re so special, or you know nurses who are anything but selfless? Or do you think it’s nice that people think of nurses in this way?
How many of you feel that this type of thinking actually backfires on nurses?
Not So Special
It’s flattering to be considered special, but does it really take a special kind of person to be a nurse? While nursing requires skills that not everyone has, is that what makes nurses special?
Most professions, from law to engineering, do require a certain skill set. I couldn’t be a school bus driver, nor could I direct airplanes as they crisscross over our airspace. These are important jobs that affect lives, and to me, it takes a special person to do each of those jobs. In fact, it takes someone special to do any job well – even the so-called McJobs; anyone can do them, but not everyone is good at them.
Nurses are humans; we’re not infallible. We have feelings and we make mistakes. Some nurses feel that if they’re compared to angels, they’re being put on a pedestal, doomed to fail when the only way left is down.
By saying that nurses are angels, it’s as if we’re expected to do the impossible and create miracles. Nurses are expected to work with their patients, regardless of what is going on around them. Staffing shortages aren’t supposed to affect patient care. Nurses aren’t supposed to get upset. The hospital staff and patients often expect nurses to pull test results, and extra pillows and linens out of a hat!