Saturday, April 02, 2005

What he said:

"You're way too smart to be a nurse."

What I did not say:

"You want somebody stupid at the bedside?"

"What would you rather I do: teach students, or teach you?"

"Are you saying that nurses are dumb?"

"How many hours of microbiology and chemistry do you think we all have to pass?"

"Should I be a doctor instead? Do you have to be smarter than a nurse to be a doctor?"

What he said:

"You should get your PhD or something."

What I said in return:

"What I love doing is this. I love being here at the bedside, helping people heal. I like working with very intelligent, dedicated people. I have a good time, and I don't want anything different."

I once, more than half my life ago, took a stage movement and modern dance class at Carnegie-Mellon University, as part of a summer theater program. At one point during the semester we were joined by the local high-school football team. A couple dozen teenaged boys (we were all teenagers) came in snickering about how "faggy" it was that they had to take a dance class with all these theater geeks.

Not a one of them made it to the first break. What they thought was easy and low-status and faggy actually took a combination of incredible strength, concentration, and stamina.

This is how I feel about people who say "You're way too smart to be a nurse." They have no idea.

You can't educate people like that. You can't change their perceptions in the twelve hours you have with them. The best you can do is remind yourself that murder is still a capital crime, then put all the pillows out of reach.



Kim said...

As a medical student who was once a nursing student and a CNA, I can say with some reasonable authority that that guy is full of it... Nurses are an EXTREMELY important part of the healthcare team, would you really want to be in the hospital with nobody taking care of you at the bedside? Certainly not a job that can be performed by an idiot, by any means. Nurses and doctors perfom separate but linked and equally important functions in patient care. Don't let people like that get to you!

Eliza said...

Uggh. I get the same thing about being a teacher. "You're too smart to be a teacher." (So I guess you'd prefer to have stupid people teaching your kids?). "What will you do after you get tired of teaching?" and "You should go on and do a Ph.D." No, what I want to do is TEACH. That is all. Unfortunately, now I *am* doing a doctoral program and not currently teaching, and people think it's a step "up" from teaching. They don't get that I'm doing it because, with my health stuff, I didn't have the energy to be a good teacher: being a doctoral student is so much EASIER than teaching!

I think that both nursing and teaching are similarly maligned because they're considered "women's work," and thus of course they are "less than." And, of course any smart woman would prefer to move "up" to the more male positions of professor or [medical] doctor. Meh.

[P.S. Just so you know, your "sponsor" column fills differently in Safari from how it does in IE: in Safari, it covers the majority of the page and makes it impossible to read all but the top of the page. I finally thought today to try loading it in IE, and it was fine I hope that doesn't sound like a criticism or anything, but I figured that, if you have a PC, you'd likely never know otherwise, and it's a minor thing that's easy enough to fix in your coding if you want to. Or, you could just say, Whatever, use IE, I don't care. In which case, nevermind].

Jo said...

Eliza: I know about the Safari issue, but don't know enough about coding to fix it myself. I'll holler at Ivo's web guy this week and see if he can do it.

Kim, EM, and Eliza: Thanks for the comments. I think Eliza pegged it when she pointed out that jobs that are traditionally held by women are considered to be less intellectually rigorous than those traditionally held by men. People tend to look at the caregiving aspects of both teaching and nursing without understanding the scientific aspects and the sheer hard thinking.

Silly people, that is.