I'm still reading From Silence to Voice (in which I'm quoted several times so EVERYONE SHOULD TOTALLY BUY IT), and the new edition has material not in the old one about the silly ways we reward nurses. They particularly attack the Daisy award. Their argument makes sense to me in every way. Why do we have to reward nurses with cutesy flowery things for fluffing pillows?
Because really, who gets Daisy awards? In my department, the nominees have been good nurses, without a doubt. But the things they're nominated for are not the things I would call out to recognize them for: their excellent pool of knowledge, their technical expertise, their facility with multitasking with critical patients, and their years of experience and dedication to emergency medicine. No, it's because of how nice they are, almost without exception.
Patients don't know what goes on behind the scenes, and it isn't their fault. We don't educate them. I used to get upset that I very rarely get accolades and cards, but when I started thinking about it, I unearthed of a lot of reasons for it. (I know I'm a good nurse, and patients tell me that often enough; they just don't write in about it, darn them.) It is because I do things like triage and take care of more critical patients most of the time. Nobody likes a triage nurse. Patients don't appreciate a fast triage nurse; all they see is they're being rushed through and often back to the waiting room and have no knowledge of the skill it takes to do the job.
Unconscious patients, who require the most extreme technical skills and knowledge? Aren't going to remember me. The dying patients I sit next to and hold their hands aren't going to write in. Their families aren't going to remember anything that happened in the room other than the death. The parents of the baby I've skillfully started an IV on and catheterized are not grateful for the skill. They see me as the one torturing their baby. Not going to write in about that. Patients that get timely treatment because I saw something and pointed the physician down the right path will never know they should be happy with me about it.
I could go on. I write these examples to get nurses thinking about what it is we reinforce to the public and with each other. Do we nominate colleagues for awards because of their skills or because of how nice they are? I am not bagging on niceness. I just want us to stop playing into the completely wrong image of nurses as people who exist to be nice and fetch soda and blankets. We do some realy ninja life-saving stuff, and we ought to be recognized for it.