Monday, November 16, 2009

Thank God for the Nurses

I love nurses.  I have loved nurses for many years.  This past week, I went to the party of some of my former nurse clients.  They were celebrating the day of their unceremonious firing and subsequent successful lawsuit.  It was wonderful seeing them after several years.  I love those nurses.  Nurses are special.

When my grandfather died, my grandmother decided to pursue her life long dream, to be a nurse.  She enrolled in nursing school at the age of 63.  She had retired from her job as a factory worker sewing on sleeves on women's coats and had planned to travel the world with my grandfather.  Their first trip after Oma, my grandmother, retired was to Israel.  Israel was the destination in the late 1960s of all European Jews who had emigrated from Europe around the time of World War II.  My grandmother had taken her family (including my mother) and fled Nazi Germany in 1938.  She first worked as a housekeeper after she arrived in Kansas City, and worked her way up to the Betty Rose coat factory, where she joined the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union and took the bus every day to the factory to sew on coat sleeves until she retired around 1967.  Oma and Uncle Sam (my step-grandfather) had planned for many years to go to Israel.  Uncle Sam bought a beautiful smoky topaz ring for Oma while in Israel.  I am wearing it on my finger as I type this blog.

My grandparents' retirement plans were not to be.  Upon returning from Israel, Uncle Sam went to his doctor because he was feeling weak and tired.  He had lung cancer.  By November 1968, he was dead.  And my grandmother decided to go to nursing school.  While Oma never really recovered from my grandfather's death, the one redeeming thing in her life was that she was a nurse.  Through all of the years in the factory, she had always wanted to be a nurse and, by the end of her life, she made her dream come true.  In so many ways, my grandmother was my hero.  In her unassuming way, she was the risk taker in the family.

This leads me to what I want to write about and that is the profession of nursing.  Through the last few years as a trial lawyer, I have represented many nurses.  I have kept nurses on many juries.  I have the greatest respect for the profession of nursing.  People who decide to go into the nursing profession by and large do so because they care about helping people.  Nurses are smart, work hard, are sometimes unappreciated and don't get the respect that doctors receive.  When you go to a hospital, you spend much more time with nurses than with doctors.  Nurses take care of you.  Nurses are the mothers and fathers of the health care profession.

I have represented nurses who were sexually harassed in horrible ways by the doctors they worked for and I have represented nurses who spoke out against dangerous medical conditions in health care facilities and were fired.  In a whistleblower case against a not-for-profit case, it was the nurses on the jury who spoke out against the illegal conduct of the employer.  Qualities necessary to make a good nurse include the willingness and ability to question authority and the drive to seek perfection.  Some may call this latter trait obsessive compulsive disorder, but as far as I am concerned, give me an OCD nurse any day of the week.

My daughter has been struggling with migraines and who is it that gives her the care she needs to function?  The doctors help, but the CARE is provided for by the nurses.  Nurses don't seek recognition or glamour, they just do their job with intelligence and caring in 12 hour shifts.

Here's to the nurses!  Especially the ones who speak up so that we are all safer.  Thank goodness the nurses who were my clients had the courage they have to make this world a better place.  Thank God for nurses.


  1. I know a group of nurses who would say "Thank God for you and your team." You coming to our gathering is just one way you made and continue to make a difference in our lives! Your blog was the BEST anniversary gift to us. Marilyn

  2. i am a nurse and it was just a bad day at work today. Thanks so much for your blog. It lifted my spirit.

  3. Yay! You have a soft spot for nurses! BTW, I am 51 and won't graduate from nursing school until I am 53. Here's to meeting you soon!