I wonder what would happen if we, as customers, called a plumber and when he arrived, we asked him to fix our roof and our electrical circuit board. I wonder what would happen if we hired a teacher to teach Math and then told him he was really teaching Spanish. Would a stem cell researcher be willing to research gut worms in mice? I mean when does it all get too silly?

As nurses we are trained to care for people and help them get well. That’s what we are educated to do. Those are the courses we take in school. Over time, that has expanded as technology has, and yet the education we get doesn’t half cover what we have to do when we find ourselves out in the real world.

Most of us go into nursing because we want to help people. We believe that’s what nurses do. Dare I say, we value the selflessness and the virtue of it in a cold harsh world. So, many of us even like to do hands on nursing to help people feel safe and enable them to get well. Some of us like to teach patients, caregivers, and each other. We like the intimacy of it, in a world that’s getting more and more impersonal. We understand the value of “caring,” the importance of caring in the whole system of healing.

So we get an education for which we pay good money, we shine ourselves up, and we show up to do the job of a nurse. For our patients. Then we find out what most health care institutions really want is just a medical secretary to cover their butts. And lots of other things that weren’t covered in the curriculum. Like management. Why aren’t we left to care for the patients and why don’t they just hire medical secretaries?

I know nurses, and have been a nurse, who had to spend 60% of the time doing paperwork, doing maintenance, acting as a manager to those others who get the information from the patients at the bedside and don’t know what to do with it because they haven’t been trained to know what it means in the bigger picture.

Why are we allowing this? Have we failed to carve out a niche and a definition for ourselves that allows us to do what we want to do, what we were promised we could do?

Isn’t it time that we began to stop the cycle of violence by being kind to ourselves as well as to others, and to include ourselves in our own circle of compassion?

If not now, when?