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The "Nurses are Angels" Myth

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.

Not Angels

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!

Next: Nurses are Selfless >>

  • Picture_016_max50


    about 4 years ago


    I have been single since my divorce more than 15 years ago. Why? When men find out I am a nurse, this is EXACTLY how they expect me to be. I tell them that this has always been my philosophy: Work is the place you go to do your job to the best of your ability to get the money you need to live your life. Work doesn't define who you are. That is personal. It freaks them out!!! Honestly!!! I am supposed to be selfless and giving and offering to run and fetch and do for them (according to them) and it is inconceiveable that I should want anyone to do anything for me!! I used to ask if they were for real, but they are conditioned to this stereotype, so they feel lke something must be wrong with me!!! aaaarrrrrrggggghhhh!!!!!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    Staffing shorages abound as we know on a daily basis.. The is to make the universe fly into a glass of lemonade..Smile, wink, shug your nose and say something totally it's quoted in "Point of No Return", "I never did mind about the little things." ...and SMILE.....

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