First, my sister’s 22 year old son, Douglas, died in a tragic car accident. Douglas was the son of my sister Terry. (If you’ve read my book, Sweet Dreams, you’ve seen Terry’s work. She is the commercial artist who designed the cover). Terry and I have always been close, and losing Douglas was devastating for all of us.
Additionally, the small critical-access hospital where I work full-time has been inundated. The U.S. Government, in its infinite wisdom, stripped privileges away from an Indian Health Service Hospital on a nearby reservation. All those patients have been diverted to our tiny 25-bed hospital. No provision was made for our small hospital to accommodate the overflow. We’ve all been working our tails off, so there’s been little time for me to promote my book or my blog – both designed to make the lives of nurses better. How the heck am I supposed to do all this when fate and the government throw me curve balls?!
The good news is that getting back in the game is therapeutic. Creativity, forward motion, and promoting older women (nurses in particular) are like a healing balm for me – the antidote for all things negative.
So today, I’d like to talk about a study involving the general public’s perception of nurses. For the fourteenth year in a row, Gallup reported that nurses are the most trusted profession in America. A whopping 85 % of people trusted those of us in the nursing profession to be ethical. Congressmen, car salesmen, and attorneys – not so much. Here’s the breakdown straight from Gallup:
My first reaction when I read the list was, “Well then, why the heck don’t we see more nurses run for congress?” Wouldn’t this serve everyone? I mean, since we don’t trust our congressmen, and we do trust our nurses … why not? Would it work?
It would seem to me that someone with proven analytical skills, someone who is used to making life and death decisions, and who stays calm in a storm would be wanted and appreciated in our capitol buildings. In theory, such a person could run for a senate or house seat and be a solid contender. But I have my doubts.
One issue that I feel holds nurses back is our own expectation that we should be perfect. We are so hard on ourselves – because we have to be. If we miss an order for an antibiotic and the whole reason the patient is hospitalized is for treatment of an infection … well … we’ve failed. Never mind that we’re assigned multiple patients who are on multiple meds and the delivery of meds is one small portion of our duties. Because we don’t hold up to our own impossible standards, we often feel like losers and consequently don’t campaign well for ourselves.
Then there’s the issue of most nurses being female and most members of congress being male. Well, ladies, it’s not the 1990’s anymore. Stereotypes are being squashed. Furthermore, it’s hard to vote for our female counterparts unless they run!
It’s also daunting to consider the cost of a political campaign. However, with avenues like Go Fund Me and other social media sites, there’s never been a better time to appeal to masses of people for financial backing. There are 3 million nurses in this country. A campaign contribution of 50¢ per colleague would garner a war chest of … well, you get the picture. If a nurse wanted to start out slower and run for state legislature, the actual dollars contributed (and needed) would be less, but huge financial horsepower would surely still be attainable with backing from our sisters with stethoscopes.
I’ve worked with hundreds of nurses over the last 28 years. I honestly feel that most would do well in congress. I obviously haven’t worked with senators to make a first-hand comparison, but seriously folks, any change would be a step up from a 8% approval rating. What do you think? What barriers or prejudices would a nurse have to overcome before taking an oath of office?