This senator said nurses "sit around playing cards" most of the day. Big mistake. Big. Huge.

A Washington state senator is getting an earful from constituents who are angry with her attack on nurses.

Republican state senator Maureen Walsh (R) inexplicably put her foot in her mouth—and pissed off about 3 million nurses—with her comments on a Washington state bill that would mandate uninterrupted breaks for nurses and offer them protection from mandatory overtime.

On April 16, she stood on the legislative floor and, with a straight face, told her fellow lawmakers that nurses in rural hospitals should be exempt from those legal protections because they "probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day."


Big mistake. Big. Huge. Nurses around the country—along with people who actually know nurses—immediately and rightfully pounced.

Seriously, Senator Walsh. What were you thinking?

A Facebook post from one nurse has been shared 37,000 times because he totally nails it.

Nurse Dave Mattox wrote:

"Yes, I heard Senator Maureen Walsh’s comment about 'nurses playing cards while working.' I gotta be honest, as a nurse I think it’s time we take responsibility for this comment. You see, it’s our fault she thought this, have you ever seen a nurses “poker face”? It’s one of a kind. So of course Maureen Walsh has to assume you only get a poker face that good by playing cards all the time.

So Maureen please let me clear this up for you. We didn’t get this poker face by playing cards, but we did get it by the hands we were dealt. Oh the damn hands we have been dealt. Sometimes we are dealt a lifeless baby, blue with no pulse. Mom is in panic. As extreme as this may sound, don’t worry Maureen we have been dealt this hand before, and guess what? We use our poker face and we look mom right in the eyes and we say 'we will take care of your baby.'"

Yes, I heard Senator Maureen Walsh’s comment about “nurses playing cards while working”. I gotta be honest, as a nurse I...

Posted by Dave Mattox on Friday, April 19, 2019

"Sometimes the hands we are dealt are not as fast paced but damn do they hurt. Sometimes we are dealt the hand of lung Xray results of a beautiful teenage cancer patient who was hoping they were getting better and this was just a cold, hell pneumonia would even do. Unfortunately, it’s not, the cancer has spread and we as nurses know it isn’t our place to tell her. So we pull the only wild card we got; we bluff…and we bluff so damn hard. We laugh, we joke with her, and we get her comfortable for the night because we know how the cards are going to fall.

I don’t blame you for your comment Maureen because its really our own fault. Our poker face is just that damn good. But here’s the best secret of all about nurses; if you or your loved one are ever dealt a life or death emergency and all hope is gone…you have prayed every prayer you can think of…and our chances of winning the pot is slim…..NURSES DON’T FOLD. WE MAY NOT WIN EVERY HAND BUT YOU BETTER BELIEVE WE WILL PLAY EVERY DAMN CARD WE HAVE UP OUR SLEEVES."

Well said, Nurse Mattox.

Walsh also tacked on an amendment limiting shifts to 8 hours because nurses were too tired if they needed uninterrupted breaks.

As if the card-playing insult weren't enough, Senator Walsh also said that if nurses were so tired, they should have their shifts shortened. "Maybe 12-hour shifts aren’t a good idea if you’re so exhausted," she said, according to My Northwest.

Many nurses prefer to work 12-hour shifts to be able to work around family obligations, and longer shifts means fewer transfers of care, which means more consistent care for patients. My mother, who worked as a labor and delivery nurse during my schooling years, worked 12-hours night shifts, which allowed her to be with her kids in the after school hours and have several days off per week.

There is room for debating the pros and cons of different work shift lengths in hospitals, but Walsh wasn't citing informed opinion when she proposed the amendment—she was being flip.

“I ran the amendment to simply say, that if the argument on behalf of this bill is nurses are experiencing exhaustion and fatigue, then perhaps the shifts are too long,” said Senator. Walsh. “This was a statement amendment by the minority party to try to make a point on the floor about the bill.”

“I fully expected a rousing ‘no’ on my amendment,” she said. “I never dreamed that the amendment would hang.”

So . . . she was bluffing and had her bluff called? How fitting.  

Nothing the senator has said really makes any sense. And I can't help but wonder what's behind it all.

First of all, if you've ever known a nurse, you know how damn hard they work. To imply that any nurse anywhere is playing cards for a considerable part of the day is ludicrous.

Second of all, if there were nurses who were playing cards because work was slow, why would you exempt them from mandatory breaks? They can take official breaks during that down time, which is when nurses take breaks when they are able to anyway.

Third, even if some nurses occasionally play cards, so freaking what? There are many jobs where people are paid to be ready and prepared and trained to respond to emergencies. I've never once heard anyone complain about firefighters hanging out in the fire station playing cards on occasion. Is it because nursing is a primarily female-dominated profession vs. a male-dominated one?

Maybe the senator has some underlying issue with nurses. Maybe this was just a partisan move. Whatever the reason, it backfired spectacularly.

You know what? If nurses ever actually do get the down time during a shift to play a game of cards, they absolutely should. The job is stressful enough as it is. So yeah, go ahead and play cards if you get a chance, nurses. And thank you for the countless hours you spend too busy saving lives and caring for the sick and injured to even think about it.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

Keep Reading Show less

TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

Keep Reading Show less

"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

Keep Reading Show less