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In Praise of Nurses - Metaphors Are Lies

In Praise of Nurses

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A short one today.

My wife has had four surgeries in the last three years (including yesterday), three of them lifesaving (one more and she gets the next one free), and my son one and a long stay in the hospital for an emergency infection. At each and every one of them, it was the nurses that helped get them through them.

Nothing I say here is to denigrate her excellent doctors. They were all top notch, all concerned, and with excellent bed side manners for doctors. Their skills quite literally saved my wife’s and my son’s life, multiple times. The “for doctors” tells the tale: for whatever reason, a desire to be accurate, a desire to avoid lawsuits, the nature of their training, and the limited time they get with patients, doctors tend to be very matter of fact and quick both before and after the surgeries. The nurses were the ones that helped the most.

Unfailingly, the nurses at all the hospitals were cheerful and encouraging. They were reassuring and helped us understand the details of the procedures and the post-recovery process. They answered questions promptly and helped us navigate the weird bureaucracy of the hospital to ensure our family members got what they needed when they needed it. All that on top if their normal, hard, physical work of helping the patients take care of their needs until they were capable of doing so on their own.

Nurses are wildly undervalued in the medical profession. They are regularly understaffed and underpaid, with private equity hospitals being the worst offenders. I don’t have any grand solutions to that problem, other than supporting the nurses when they strike and pushing your legislature to reign in monopolies and private equity firms. In the meantime, if you see a nurse, thank him or her and be extra nice to them. They deserve it.

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