Myths About Nursing: Put Them to Rest

NursingNovember 12, 2013


Like the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot, myths about nursing are everywhere. Here is a list of the top five myths.

1. Nurses only work in hospitals.

Not the case! According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 14 percent of registered nurses work in outpatient care centers and another 14 percent in home health care services. The field of nursing is incredibly diverse. Also, a nurse can seek higher education and function as a midwife, nurse anesthetist, or nurse practitioner. In nursing, there are essentially few boundaries and no limits to where you can go and what you can do.

2. Nurses just follow doctor's orders.

While carrying out doctor's orders is part of a nurse's duties, day-to-day responsibilities are more extensive. For example, a nurse is responsible for preventing a medication error the doctor may have made. He or she must be familiar with the medication they are administering and the dosage prescribed. Furthermore, it is the nurse's responsibility to communicate effectively with the physician if there is an issue.

The nurse completes his or her own assessment of the patient and communicates that assessment to the doctor. A nurse to doctor relationship is a partnership that works together for the patient's health. The recommendations of a nurse can guide the patient's care and form an important part of the treatment plan.

3. Nursing is a women's profession.

Historically, women have dominated and pioneered the field of nursing, but according to the Census Bureau, the number of male nurses has tripled since the 1970s. The prerequisites for nursing include a desire to care of others and the competence to do so, which is not exclusive to either gender.

4. Nurses just give bed baths and do other lowly tasks.

Registered nurses are actually required to delegate tasks to others. Bed baths, vital signs and cleaning up bodily fluids can be delegated if these individuals are available. This frees up the RN to perform assessments, make clinical decisions, interpret vital signs and even ensure that the patient is getting care from other disciplines such as physical, occupational or respiratory therapy.

5. Nurses are in the background.

On television shows like House or Scrubs, the nurses are portrayed more as place holders than health care professionals. Those emotional moments shown between doctors and their patients are unlikely, considering that the doctor sees the patient for 20 minutes and moves on to the next room. In actuality, it's the nurse who is in the room with the patient, taking the emotional journey with them. Television is guilty of perpetuating many myths about nursing. Try watching a medical drama with someone who is in the medical field, and they will set the record straight.

Myths about nursing add up, but the best way to learn the truth about nursing is to experience it for yourself. 

Photo Source: Flickr