To Hollywood, From nurses everywhere

I don’t watch medical shows. Why?  Inaccuracies everywhere and nurses walking around in the two dimensional background. Do they even have medical consultants anymore? If so, I want to go live in the white tower they come from and watch doctors ambulate and reposition the patients and have the residents always hanging around. Where the doctors and nurses always have outside coffee and don’t drink the floor swill the patient’s families are expected to choke down. That’s how we keep the visiting hours strict. Shhh don’t tell anyone.

Nurse Jackie was about nurses, and addiction. Do you know the most commonly addicted health care professional? Physicians. Nurses are second. They made it way too easy for Nurse Jackie to gain access to drugs on that show. It was laughable. It’s not that easy and much easier to get caught. Not that I’ve thought about it. Sadly, I’ve personally caught a co-worker.

Plus, the punishment for a nurse getting caught is a heavy hand, as it should be.  A doctor getting caught, the whole process is very different. In the real world Nurse Jackie would have been quickly noticed, lost her license and ended up working at her husband’s bar. The end. We aren’t even allowed to get DUI’s. I haven’t seen anyone bother being medically accurate on a TV show since Joss Whedon. My Mother says, “Orange is the New Black” is medically accurate for prison. I wouldn’t know, I’ll have to take her word on it.



But, I digress. I want to see a show that is central to nurses. It doesn’t have to be ER. How about ICU? Seasoned nurses mixed with first years, dealing with residents and physicians. Then going home to various family problems. Some of them could be going to night school, finishing their BSN. Some could be pregnant. One could be the nurse who married a well-known doctor after having an affair with him and is now shunned by the others. These things all happen. One could have a husband that is deployed, single Mom’s and Dad’s. We have the works.

This is gold people. I am handing script writers drama and humor on a silver platter. The nurse techs? They can add a whole aspect to the story. The nurse who was never an “aide” who talks down to them. The seasoned bitter tech who tells the new nurses how it is done. The newbie tech that is taught to breathe through her mouth the first time she changes a an ostomy bag. Then throws up outside the room.

I have so many stories without breaking HIPAA, just about “the hive”. The collective hive of nurses that works together, sees each other more than their own families. Here’s a tip for the writers in Hollywood, we work WITH the doctors. They are not our boss. We collaborate with them about the patients care. We are no longer pill passing, cigarette lighting, hat wearing, “Yes, Doctor” women. We are men and women working together to make sure the plan of care works until the next round of doctors (or God help us, residents) comes around and tries to change it.

The residents do not figure out where the infection comes from like you see in “House”. We do. The Doctors do not reposition patients in bed like on Grey’s Anatomy, we do. Hollywood has become a joke to nurses. Most nurses you talk to will tell you the last remotely accurate show about a hospital they saw was “Scrubs”. Even that show betrayed us when Carla wanted to become a doctor. Here’s another secret. Most of us, don’t want to be doctors. We find it insulting when people ask us why we didn’t become doctors.

Because we wanted to be nurses.

Give us something new, Hollywood. I can guarantee you would have an audience.

Your loving nerdy nurse






I’m sorry….

I’m sorry that the previous shift judged you, a young addict admitted with pericardial effusion. In healthcare, the patients who are addicts are often so needy. You were one of those, pain impossible to control, cursing and demanding to smoke. You smoked in your room and got caught. Then your girlfriend shot up junk in your IV and it blew. It took the entire line team to start another one on your abused viens. The patience limit of the previous nurse had reached critical mass. You tried your best to put up a wall with me, I was just another nurse.

I walked into your room, looked you square in the eye as I gave you some PRN narcotics, “You are an addict. I’m not stupid and don’t deny it. But, It’s not my job to question if you’re really in pain. Ask and you will receive. I’m not your sponsor, a cop, or your judge and jury. All I ask is you to respect me in return and be honest with me. Stop shooting up in your IV, whatever crap you keep shooting up crystallizes and I don’t want to kick your girlfriend out and start another one. My only other request is stop asking to smoke. It’s not happening. I’m going to take care of you, I promise. But, I need your help. Please work with me.”

You stared at me for a couple of seconds as your girlfriend slinked out of the room, I told her when she returned to leave her purse in the waiting room. Slowly you started talking while I assessed you.  You even laughed. While you were relaxed and I was actually able to get a good assessment on you.  You told me about your pregnant ex and the little girl she was carrying in the waiting room. How you wanted to sober up for her. Then you paused and your youth cracked your voice, “I’m dying and I’m scared”

I don’t know if you had feelings of impending doom, or if I couldn’t hide the the fallen look on my face as I suspected Beck’s Triad. I didn’t tell you, “You’ll be fine.” because I don’t lie. I excused myself and quickly pushed the crash cart outside your room as I paged your doctor and the house supervisor. Several minutes later, you went into tamponade. They transferred you to the CVICU next door.

You coded immediately upon transfer. They sent me over to help, you saw me and screamed my name. The physician asked me to leave and I complied. You were conscious while they worked on you and I could hear through the thin walls as you begged them to let me come back. You wanted me to hold your hand, you were scared.  This was not possible, there was no room without breaking the sterile field. You died crying for me, like I was some kind of miracle worker. You thought I was going to do something spectacular just because I did my job.  Your Mother thanked me later, just because I was nice. They named your daughter after me.

I cried guilty tears for you and I cried each time your Mother came to see me. I didn’t deserve her devotion.

I was doing my job.