The "Nurses are Angels" Myth
Marijke Durning | NursingLink
October 19, 2010
If nurses are considered angels and supposed to be all that they stand for, how can nurses expect back-up when the workplace is less than heavenly? How can they get support for demands for better work conditions and better pay?
Angels are gentle, quiet, and ever-present. But nurses can’t be that way. Sometimes a nurse has to be assertive, loud, and aggressive when the situation warrants it. That’s not how angels behave.
Nurses Are Selfless
When someone is selfless, it implies they have no self-interest, no concerns other than that of anyone else. Of course, in a professional context, nurses should only be thinking about the patient as their advocate. But this doesn’t make a nurse selfless.
Nurses need to take that break in the middle of the day to regroup, recover, and avoid burnout. Nurses need to take time off to take care of their needs. Nurses have to call in sick when they are sick – for themselves and for the ill patients around them. Maybe it’s this selfless notion that makes it so easy for others to dump on nurses sometimes, forcing overtime, refusing to believe sick calls, and denying requests for days off.
Just as we rebel naughty nurse stereotypes or sexy nurse fantasies, we need to negate the angelic nurse concept as well. Nurses are just like any other working professional. The only difference between us and other workers is that we are privy to some of the most intimate details of someone’s life. We touch people, literally and figuratively. But we’re human. That’s all we are.