"I am the medical officer's eyes, ears and hands with the ability to assess, treat and manage your illness, and yet I am just a nurse."
Caitlin Brassington is a mother to three girls and has been a nurse in Australia for 18 years.
Needless to say, she works incredibly hard all day (and occasionally night) long.
One evening, when Caitlin was coming home after a particularly taxing day at work caring for sick babies, she decided to stop to pick up milk. There, she ran into an acquaintance who had never seen her in scrubs before. According to Caitlin, the acquaintance reacted with this unthinking response: She didn't realize Caitlin was "just a nurse."
It seemed to be a "slip of the tongue," but it hit Caitlin at her core. She'd heard this comment many times before, but on that particular day, after a long shift that left her emotionally and physically drained, it was the straw that broke the camel's back.
So she wrote a letter on Facebook in the name of nurses everywhere to show the world how easily the word "just" can strip away one's significance.
Here are some highlights from Caitlin's poignant post that prove she's anything but "just a nurse."
I have performed CPR on patients and brought them back to life, and yet I am just a nurse.
I am the medical officers eyes, ears and hands with the ability to assess, treat and manage your illness, and yet I am just a nurse.
I can auscultate every lung field on a newborn and assess which field may have a decreased air entry, and yet I am just a nurse.
I can educate patients, carers, and junior nurses, and yet I am just a nurse.
I am my patients advocate in a health system that does not always put my patients best interest first, and yet I am just a nurse.
I will miss Christmas Days, my children's birthdays, and school musicals to come to work to care for your loved one, and yet I am just a nurse.
And she ends on the ultimate mic drop:
"I have the experience and knowledge that has saved people's lives. So, if I am just a nurse, then I am ridiculously proud to be one!"
It's unfortunate there are still people in the world who don't see how amazing and invaluable nurses are. But, thankfully, there are also people who have the utmost respect for them, and they made that clear in their messages to Caitlin.
"The reaction you should have received from your acquaintance was 'wow your a nurse — what a wonderful career'. My daughter found out yesterday that she has been accepted into university next year to study nursing. She is over the moon with excitement. ... You are an inspiration," wrote Susan Garrett.
"Our son spent a couple of days in NICU after his recent arrival. There I asked a paediatric nurse about how they were coping with staffing issues, the response I got was: 'Don't worry. There's not a force on Earth that will stop us looking after these babies'. I still get tears now," wrote Andrew Nelson.
Rob V Dyer, a male nurse who worked all over the world for 36 years, thanked her for the recognition in the face of the double-stereotyping he often experienced as a male nurse.
"With all the 'JUST A' or 'ONLY A' rubbish, I had to endure the many prejudices of being "just" a nurse who happened to be "only" a bloke! ... Thank you Caitlin Brassington. And all the other nurses, paramedics, combat medics, doctors, aids and assistants, all the others that DO care," he wrote on her post.
"Just" should never be used to describe people in professions that often go overlooked. Nurses save our lives in more ways than one every day.
Saying they're "just a nurse" can effectively cut their confidence in half. Nursing can often be a thankless job, but when someone casually states they're somehow less than because there isn't a "Dr." in front of their name, it's like an arrow to the Achilles' heel.
Hopefully Caitlin's post will curtail those "slips of the tongue" and remind everyone how disadvantaged they'd be without nurses. It's time we show these everyday lifesavers they matter much more than they realize.