I know I have not been active on here for a while, but since I came into some extra time, I thought I would post something. One of my sisters is in nursing school. She's got ambition, and talent, but that doesn't make the nursing program easy--especially when others ask her why she is studying to be a nurse rather than a surgeon. A couple of weeks ago I was assigned an expository essay for my AP Composition class, and I was inspired to write this paper.
This one goes out to all those hard working nursing students
The Misconceptions Concerning Nurses and Surgeons
“Are you only going to become a nurse?—Why stop at nursing school—Why not go on to grad school and become a surgeon?—Why don’t you want to become a surgeon instead of…just a nurse?” Questions like these plague this generation’s nursing students. Not only do friends question these students’ paths for the future, wondering why they would stop their medical career at nursing, but also family and even teachers and professors. Though there is no simple answer to why a nursing student would stay a nurse rather than become a surgeon, there is one vital reason which supports their decision—their personality. Although some may believe that it is lack of ambition that causes a nursing student to not wish to become a surgeon, their decision is actually based on a knowledge of their strengths, such as medical knowledge and skill, as well as qualities specific to a nurse, such as empathy, their talent to serve under high stress and pressure, and their ability to bring comfort to their patients.
Society holds a skewed image of today’s nurses. What does the word nurse bring to mind? Maybe a blonde wearing scrubs with a clipboard, or a red head positioning IVs into a patient’s arm. While both of these mental images are correct, they limit society’s perspective of the real depth of a nurse’s job. Contrary to popular belief, nurses do not simply pass medications or place IVs. They help transition patients to and from hospital living. They invest emotion into the woman who lost her baby to miscarriage. They comfort the family grieving a loved one. They encourage the child with leukemia to keep on fighting. The University of Arizona: College of Nursing, write in their article, “6 Personality Traits of Successful Nursing,” the six important traits of a successful nurse, including the ability to be tenacious, gregarious, methodical, optimistic, patient, and empathetic. First of all, tenacity is not only needed to understand the material nurses learn in school, but also have the determination to remember what do to with that information in chaotic circumstances. Gregariousness, optimism, patience, and empathy all tie into the relationships found between patients and nurses. Still, without these characteristics, nurses, who are there to not only help the health of the patients, but also the emotions, become overworked and impatient. Even though these characteristics are not why nurses are hired, they remain some of the main reasons students still become nurses—so they can use their talents to help those around them every day.
All this brings to question the real difference between nurses and surgeons. Besides the obvious reasons that nurses do not perform such in-depth tasks and surgeries as surgeons do, what really sets them apart? Some believe that it is the surgeon’s personality. While most argue this is an incorrect stereotype, others claim that to some extent it is true. Charles L. Bosk, PhD, recounts his finding a surgeon fitting this stereotype in his article, “Is the ‘Surgical Personality’ a Threat to Patient Safety?” Bosk writes,
…One of the surgeons I shadowed…appeared to be the perfect embodiment of the surgical personality. It was as if he entered the operating room directly from central casting. He strode into rooms and instantly commanded the spotlight. His grooming was immaculate; his unwrinkled surgical scrub suits possessed a military crease…He was tyrannical in the demands that he made upon residents, nurses, and, to be fair, himself…
Later on, Bosk agrees that, while not every surgeon with whom he came in contact possessed this “surgical personality,” he stands by his conclusion that the surgeon stereotype exists. Bosk goes on to explain that the surgeon personality exists not because of the surgeon’s ego. Instead, it exists for the surgeon’s ability to perform such meticulous tasks as brain or heart surgery. Furthermore, under the pressures found in the operating room, a surgeon must be able to go into surgery mode—to perform surgery without thinking about other things. They must be able to shut out all distractions and not worry about what others think. So, while a surgeon may be able to perform adequately under high pressure conditions without the surgeon’s personality, this personality aids surgeons in focusing on the tasks to which they are trusted—the lives to which they are trusted. It is because of this personality difference that some students prefer to stay a nurse rather than work towards becoming a surgeon. They know that they would perform better under the command of another, than become the ultimate authority in the operating room.
A fairly common career path in the medical field is that of the Physician’s Assistant. Though the tasks of a Physician’s Assistant may resemble those of a Physician, the difference between the two comes down to one thing: Physicians are able to perform a surgery. This brings up one of the most common questions for students pursuing a career as a Physician’s Assistant. Why stop there? As with those who pursue a career in Nursing, not only do friends ask this question, but also family, teachers, and professors. The problem here is that the person’s social circle is judging them for their decision. It is a decision which the student makes because they know they would be better assisting the Physician, rather than performing the surgery themselves. It is a decision which the student makes because they know that they would not be able to perform as ultimate authority under such high stress conditions produced in a surgical environment. It is a decision which the student makes because they know they are better at understanding people and people’s emotions rather than performing surgery. Even though they perform the same basic tasks as the surgeon, they do not take the leading role in a surgery, and instead, use their talents to help serve, rather than command.
While there are many arguments as to whether a nurse’s task is as taxing as that of a surgeon, it seems that it is in many ways—if not physically and mentally, then emotionally. In reality the job of a nurse requires the ability to understand people on a physical as well as mental and emotional level—something which surgeons are not required to understand. Even though some believe that anyone going into the medical field could become a surgeon, the truth remains: people cannot fit into molds they were not made for, and if a person contains more talent as an encourager rather than task giver, they should follow their life-long dreams and become not who people say they should be, but who they were created to be: a nurse.
Bosk, Charles L., PhD. "Is the 'Surgical Personality' a Threat to Patient Safety?" Patient Safety Network. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Apr. 2006. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.
University of Arizona. "6 Personality Traits of Successful Nurses." University of Arizona: College of Nursing. University of Arizona, 2015. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.