Can you think of the last time you had to be cared for by a nurse? Nurses are typically the first person you interact with when getting medical care. Unfortunately, I have heard people talking about their nurses being ditsy, not "serving" them enough, or even not being that important. It may be hard to truly understand what nurses do if you are not one yourself, but these claims are absolutely not applicable to every nurse. Obviously, some nurses may be "better" than others, but to speak of nurses in these ways as a general rule is just not cool. As a future nurse, I would like to clarify why nurses are, in fact, really important to the health care system and why they deserve more respect (I am referring to a registered nurse here, by the way).
Nurses are the professionals that can administer medicine, get a medical history, help patients with daily activities, and create nursing diagnoses (solving minor problems and treating them independently), among other things. They are vital to the health care system because they work with physicians and other professionals to treat patients. What is most important about nurses that differs from physicians is that they give holistic care to the patient; this means that they care for the mind, body, and spirit of the patient. Physicians typically only diagnose and treat illnesses and diseases, but nurses can help with prevention of these problems, comforting a patient emotionally, and helping the patient be well in all aspects to be at their best health. In this, nurses must use critical thinking skills all the time and treat patients each as unique beings, which can be mentally draining when making decisions and ensuring the correct care. Another thing to note is that nurses are not "servants." Yes, they are there to bring you things you need and help with activities that you cannot do yourself (such as using the restroom), but some people expect everything from their nurse when they do not want to be independent at all, and this is just unnecessary.
There is an unfortunate shortage of nurses in the United States, due to many factors such as aging of the population (this leads to more patients), not enough nurses coming out of or going to school, or new nurses getting a "career shock" when they get out of school and giving up. With this shortage, nurses today have higher patient loads and are busier than ever. This means that they will be able to have less time with each patient, so patients may feel like their nurse is not there enough or does not care about them. Believe me, this is not the case. A good nurse truly cares for each of his or her patients, each in a special way. Nurses work so hard, and do so in long twelve-hour shifts. Being a nurse is physically and emotionally draining; they are on their feet almost the whole shift and see some pretty scary or sad things. This is one of the hardest jobs anyone could do, in my opinion. People become nurses because they want to help others and have the compassion to do so, even with hard conditions.
Finally, I would like to point out that nurses may have different things they are better at. One nurse may be great at drawing blood, while another may be the best person you have ever had to talk to. Don't assume a nurse is "ditsy" if he or she cannot start your IV right away because you may have tiny veins, and don't expect your nurse to have amazing advice because at least he or she is there to listen to you. Aside from getting years of schooling, nurses must learn in the workplace, and acquiring all the skills they eventually have takes time. Nurses are there to guide you through your patient experience, heal you in all aspects, and be your advocate to get you the best care possible.
I promise that you will have nurses who are unprofessional or rude or slow, but I also promise you that if you try to cooperate with your health team, you will see that you also have amazing nurses that show they care and help you be a better you. It is a nurse's job to make you feel better holistically, so please respect nurses all around for all the work they do and the care they carry out for everyone.