June 11, 2008, 5:21 pm

You’re Looking Through Me, Where Did I Go?

Behold the faceless nurse!

I bet she doesn’t have to decide whether to wear make-up to work!

Apparently there were many options for nurses in the 1940s – you could (a) watch a doctor, (b) invade the personal space of a patient who looks like he’s painting, (c) bandage a boo boo, (d) feed a kid or (e) wash a patient’s hand.

Wait a minute.

That’s what Cherry Ames did and I became a nurse because of her!

I guess if she had put tubes down noses and up other orifices, described the smell of a GI bleed or told exactly what happens to a patient in DIC, I might not be where I am today.

Some things you don’t need to know until you need to know.

Kotex did a lot of advertising for nurses during World War 2. I wonder why we don’t see them working with nursing recruitment today?


I’m on my second day off after a six-night stretch, including a 12-hour shift in the middle.

I’m really getting too old for this type of stuff.

Of course, it did not help that I was up for a full 24-hours watching my man Kasey Kahne win the Pocono 500 right in the middle of the stretch.

I managed to stay up until the race was over at 3:30, but then I was so amped up I couldn’t fall asleep!

So much for Budweiser making you drowsy.

Not that I drank a lot of it.

Or anything.


The patient was anonymous.

No dates, no names, no shift, no diagnosis.

Just a routine satisfaction survey that was routed to the emergency department.

And the patient was not happy.


The doctor took forever to see me!

Well, it may have been a while before the doctor was able to see you. There are patients who came in before you. A very critical patient may have come in after you. In the meantime, your nurse was probably (a) placing an IV, (b) drawing your blood and ordering the initial tests, (c) starting your fluids, (d) giving you medicine per protocol and/or (e) ordering x-rays.

Didn’t you see the nurse?

The doctor was mean!

Gee, that’s too bad. Let’s see, while you were in the emergency department, you may have seen the doctor for, oh, twenty minutes total. They examined you, confirmed the tests that were ordered, added new ones, perhaps ordered more pain medicine. Then when all the tests were back, they summed up the findings, gave you his opinion and discussed options. In the meantime, every need you had was taken care of by a registered nurse, who had the time and the knowledge needed to keep you comfortable.

Didn’t you see the nurse?

The doctor ignored my requests for pain medicine!

Oooh, sorry again, but I don’t think so. You see, the primary focus of patient care in general is the relief of pain. Seriously. We document it, medicate for it and document the response. You need more, you get more. Unless, of course, you are a suspected drug seeker and nine times out of ten you’ll get it anyway. Chances are the person you asked for pain medicine was a registered nurse. Chances are the reason you didn’t receive what you wanted when you wanted it was explained by a registered nurse.

Didn’t you see the nurse?


With all due respect, what century are you living in?

Did you really think that when you came into the emergency department you would have the undivided attention of a physician?

If you were dying, perhaps.

But you weren’t, as your evaluation makes clear.

Maybe if you had spent less time worrying about the doctor and more time actually looking at the people who were caring for you minute-by-minute, you would have realized that you were receiving attentive, appropriate care by professional nurses.

Didn’t you even see us?


  • Joanne

    June 13, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Kim, I love the way you write!! I always notice that the “nurse” is the one that seems to do most of the work. I wait in the lobby for a visit with my ob/gyn for about 30 minutes. I spend time with the nurse for about 10 minutes. Then the ob for 5 minutes. Then I see the nurse again for another 15 minutes or so! I might as well have just emailed my doctor with a question and made an appointment with my nurse!

  • NP's Save Lives

    June 13, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    I totally agree with you regarding “not seeing the nurse”. The floor nurses are the ones that are doing everything for 12 hours and the patients complain that “I didn’t see anybody the WHOLE day!”

  • […] at Emergiblog gives a spirited defense of the far too often underlooked contribution of Nurses, rebutting patient complaints with a loud and clear, That’s what the nurse was doing. All I […]

  • mursing » Common sense nursing?

    June 25, 2008 at 8:58 am

    […] A very simple tenet you should have learned in nursing school. I too would want to forget the nurse that carried on in front of me that way. And you wonder why the medical profession gets such poor […]

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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