so about that apology

There is this old saying that goes apologizing doesn’t always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It means you value your relationship more than your egoIn my heart of hearts, I believe that to be true. I also try to live that. If I insult someone or hurt their feelings or even take offense to something stupid and offensive they might say, do or post online and they are hurt enough to call me out on it, I will, more often than not, choose to apologize…if I value that friendship or relationship.

Try being the key word here.

I learned a long time ago that the best apology is to simply say I’m sorry, I apologize, forgive me. No buts needed…or defensive arguments…or lectures about needing to listen. Anything else just falls flat and isn’t really an apology. The irony over who actually taught this to me is never lost on me. But that’s another story.

Today there was this.

So…

I for one, one out of over 3 million practitioners, say okay, fine. Thank you. But that’s just me. Then again, I know that I am not alone. Last night I had the opportunity to take part in a very long conversation with some very smart Registered Nurses and one physician about what we jokingly refer to as the stethoscope incident. For us, we were at the point in this story to acknowledge that nurses united and showing our stethoscopes has made our voices heard in a big way. Johnson & Johnson, one of The View’s major advertiser had paused their ads on that show which meant revenue lost. Eggland’s Best, another advertiser also had pulled their ads…in support of the nursing profession. That’s powerful and we could not help but take note of that. Our conversation last night was what can we do with this loud voice of ours to educate the public, and knock down such stereotypes as the idea that nurses are wannabe doctors, doctors’ helpers, overpaid waitresses, maids and babysitters. Perhaps we can make known that while we are the most trusted, respected profession, we are often maligned just as much as other service related professions. Think of anytime something goes wrong or is less than one’s expectations when you or a loved one is hospitalized. Whomever is most at the bedside is more often than not blamed. We could use this opportunity to address patient safety as in nurse to patients ratios, short staffing and work hours. It would be a good time to discuss the ongoing nursing shortage and the low salaries of qualified nursing educators to educate and train nursing students. It’s also an opportunity to address the violence in the workplace nurses must deal with. My very first patient, when I was a nursing student punched me in the face…literally. I have twice in my career been threatened with bodily harm by an angry, distraught parent. My colleagues in the ER, adult floors and psych units are sometimes kicked, punched and physically threatened by those whom they are trying to care for. All of this was considered last night in our conversation about what shall we now do as 3+ million strong do with our voice.

So when the nearly six minute apology segment aired on The View today, I decided to accept it.

Of course they were pandering to the advertisers. Anyone could see that. But they did say I’m sorry, we apologize. They also gave an opportunity for our voice to be heard with what it is we do, the education and training we must have along with the skill, heart and physical and emotional endurance to do what we do. I’ll take it.

Now can I stop watching segments of The View because I am not a fan and have not really watched since Lisa Ling left the show…2002 in case anyone didn’t know. I sure hope so.

I understand for some nurses this apology is not enough. The nurses who appeared on the show are regarded as traitors. I imagine for some nothing will be enough. It’s hard to put down those torches and pitchforks once they are picked up I guess. But what, if anything, will right this wrong for them? The blood of the ladies of The View? Is that who we are as nurses? As educated, skilled, respected healthcare professionals?

I like to believe that we can move on. Joy, Michelle, Whoopi, Paula, and even Raven with her eye-rolling and I-can’t-believe-we-have-to-do-this-segment body language never should worry that they and their loved ones won’t receive the very best of care the next time they need a nurse because they will. It’s what we do. It’s part of the oath we have taken. As a nurse, over the last 25+ years, I have cared for the babies of Olympic athletes, professional athletes, musicians, politicians, television personalities, farm workers, prostitutes, the homeless, child molesters, clergy, doctors, drug dealers, convicts, gang members, illegal immigrants and just hard-working-everyday kind of people. At the bedside no one patient and their family was more important than another because ultimately my responsibility has been to provide the very best nursing care. I have been compelled to. It’s what I do. It’s what we all, as nurses, do.

Future RN? I don’t know. A Mima can dream. – Hazel Faye 2010

I, for one, believe that it is time that we nurses don our stethoscopes proudly, stand tall together and move on. But we should not be quiet. What has happened in the social media landscape shows just how powerful our voice is. People ARE listening. Who knows? Perhaps some of them will finally come to understand that we did not choose nursing because we were’t smart enough or too lazy to become doctors. Perhaps they finally will understand we do so much more than pass out medications and food trays. Maybe, just maybe they will begin to recognize that we are indeed one of the most vital part of the healthcare that they receive whether it is at the beginning, the middle or the end of their lives.

Oh and because my Dad asked, Kelley Johnson, RN, aka Miss Colorado was second runner up in the Miss America pageant so no, she did not win. But today she is the one contestant from the pageant whom we all are still talking about.

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