We all have those friends who help us survive the uphill terrain in life with a little laughter to propel the journey. Jen Johnson was one of those friends who helped me survive nursing school with her quick wit and tireless commitment to create community along the way. It's no surprise to catch up with her over a decade beyond wearing whites in nursing school together and to find her creating comic community as an escape from the stress of the daily grind. When Jen isn't working in the OR in her local community, she's traveling the world with Seattle Alliance Outreach or plotting her next steps in raising funds and awareness to combat the widespread affect of cancer. When I recently caught up with Jen and asked her what was on her mind about nursing, here's what she had to say:
"Last fall, the nursing profession was front and center in the media thanks (or no-thanks) to criticizing comments made on a national talk show by uninformed television hosts. With that press, nurses (and healthcare workers of all types) came out of the woodwork to state their opinions, good and bad - about our chosen profession. I have never seen such an outpouring of support for health care workers, and I am grateful for the national spotlight the nursing profession had in the aftermath of said press. I mean, nursing is a great profession! Where else can you roll into work in your PJ's and then change into other PJ inspired clothing? I wear an OR hat at work all day, so that saves a lot of money on grooming supplies.
That said, I have also noticed an influx of negativity regarding nursing, particularly in social media. I started following a very popular healthcare Facebook site and what I saw alternated between making me proud and inspired, and sad. I have heard the mantra "nurses eat their young" so many times and by so many people, yet I had not experienced it myself. What I saw on social media last fall in the flurry of reactions to the aforementioned press was a cacophony of: "Behind my name are X amount of letters Alphabet Bashing", the old "I've been a nurse since (insert year) so don't dispute me because you don't know as much as I do," and various administrators of the aforementioned site arguing the professionalism of certain posts and comments...it was like I was watching the human equivalent of a tiger salamander (in case you didn't get that reference, they literally do eat their young).