Of Nurses and The Stethoscope

So, I cannot sleep. My mind keeps rambling  on things that are beyond my control so I decided to go on FB. ( I know…I know digital devices do not help with insomnia but…) I have noticed that on both sides of the Atlantic, health care professionals seem to be fighting for due respect and recognition. On this side of the pond, the junior doctors are trying to fight out the unreasonable new contract that the government is trying to implement as it is not reflective of their hard work, responsibilities, knowledge, skills and educational attainment. Let’s face it, it takes a certain type of individual to be a doctor ( brainy, compassionate and dedicated comes to mind). On the other side of the pond a.k.a  USA, the nurses are fighting for the respect and acknowledgement after the co-hosts of the View ( who are so out of touch that it’s a wonder why they are allowed to express their opinions on national television) have made fun of a nurse ergo the whole body of nurses.

Ok let’s break this down to the uninitiated. The issue started when the women of the View dissected the talent of a Miss America contestant wherein she presented a monologue on what it is to be a nurse. The View co-hosts are entitled to their opinions, of course and that would have been acceptable ( by me anyway) if they just dissected the actual presentation. If they said that it was different, lacklustre etc then they are just criticizing the presentation. They showed their ignorance ( they really should fire their researchers!) when they called the scrubs as a ‘costume’ and referred to the stethoscope as a ‘doctor’s stethoscope’.

Why the outrage? Well, I don’t know where these ladies have been having their face lifts done but I am sure the nurses in USA have been wearing scrubs for at least the last 20 years, so a nurse in scrubs is not in costume but in uniform. Were they expecting nurses to be still in white uniforms and wearing a nurse’s cap? What year are they in?

Now the stethoscope… I trained, like all Filipino nurses, with the curriculum similar to that of USA. This is the reason why Filipino nurses are RN’s in USA once they pass the NCLEX exams hence whatever we were taught, the American nurses were most likely taught as well. As a student nurse and a trained nurse back home, a stethoscope is part of the uniform. Report to duty without your stethoscope as a student and this can be mean a demerit against you. The stethoscope was not only used to check blood pressure manually but it was also used to auscultate for bowel, breath, and heart sounds. Nursing assessment has been drilled into us on a daily basis.  IPPA – Inspection, Percussion, Palpation and auscultation. Hence the uproar at the implication that a nurse borrows a ‘doctor’s stethoscope’ as props because those nurses know how to use those stethoscopes.

I actually miss using my stethoscope as a nurse. Unfortunately, my auscultation skill is something that I have lost when I started working in this country. The ward trained nurses unfortunately do not auscultate the patient as part of their assessments. I hate the fact that I now have less confidence in differentiating a ronchi vs rales. I hate that I used the term ‘wet chest’ when describing the respiratory sounds of a patient with pleural effussion. I hate that I most likely will no longer recognize the S3..I remember when we first reported to work in our wards, we all came with our own stethoscopes hung on our necks. One charge nurse asked why we have stethoscopes as we are not doctors. In hindsight, perhaps it was his insecurity ( as he was not trained like us) that prompted his question. But to conform to the norm,  we lost a skill that we worked hard to gain as students. We allowed ourselves to be deskilled.

So to my colleagues across the pond, fight the good fight. You earned to have those stethoscopes around your necks and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

And FYI to the women of The View… A nurse in white uniform and a white cap is someone who is in costume- do join us in the 21st century

Ok my tirade is now over but Mr Sandman still hasn’t come …


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