Nurses are the foundation of any good health care system, and yet rarely do they get the props they deserve. So when one fed-up nurse responded to a "just a nurse" barb on Facebook, it became an unexpected mic drop moment heard 'round the internet.
After a long day of caring for sick babies, Caitlin Brassington, a Pediatric and Child Health Nurse in Toowoomba, Queensland, ran into an acquaintance on her way home from the hospital. Though Brassington's career as a nurse has spanned nearly two decades, the acquaintance hadn't seen her in scrubs before, and said (rudely) that she didn't realize Brassington was "just a nurse." The snide, belittling comment upset Brassington so much so that she decided to write an open letter to the "acquaintance" on Facebook before dashing off to pick up her three girls from school.
Her powerful Oct. 7 post went viral, gaining thousands of likes and comments in a matter of hours. Brassington titles her open letter "Just a nurse" and writes, "I am just home from a busy shift, looking very ordinary in my scrubs. On the way home today I stopped at the shop for milk and saw an acquaintance. She has never seen me in uniform and said that she didn't realize I was "just a nurse." Wow! Over my 18 year career I have heard this phrase many, many time, but today it got to me. Am I just a nurse?" Caitlin asks.
The post reads:
I have helped babies into the world, many of whom needed assistance to take their first breath, and yet I am just a nurse.I have held patients hands and ensured their dignity while they take their last breath, and yet I am just a nurse.I have counselled grieving parents after the loss of a child, and yet I am just a nurse.I have performed CPR on patients and brought them back to life, and yet I am just a nurse.I am the medical officers eyes, ears and hands with the ability to assess, treat and manage your illness, and yet I am just a nurse.I can ascultate every lung field on a newborn and assess which field may have a decreased air entry, and yet I am just a nurse.I can educate patients, carers, and junior nurses, and yet I am just a nurse.I am my patients advocate in a health system that does not always put my patients best interest first, and yet I am just a nurse.I will miss Christmas Days, my children's birthdays, and school musicals to come to work to care for your loved one, and yet I am just a nurse.I can take blood, cannulate and suture a wound, and yet I am just a nurse.I can manage a cardiac arrest in a newborn, a child or an adult, and yet I am just a nurse.I can tell you the dosage of adrenaline or amiodarone based on weight that your child may need to bring them back to life, and yet I am just a nurse.I have the experience and knowledge that has saved people's lives.So, if I am just a nurse, then I am ridiculously proud to be one!
Brassington was unsure if she had gone too far with her post, but her worries were soon eased. "During the afternoon, the thought crossed my mind several times that I had been hasty in venting my thoughts on Facebook — something I have never done to such an extent," Brassington told ABC.net. When she returned home that evening, the response to her post was overwhelmingly positive. "The support, appreciation, recognition and love for nurses has been, and continues to be, truly humbling."
Brassington hopes that two things can be gleaned from this experience and the attention that the post has gained. She foremost hopes that all nurses read the comments on Facebook, as she points out, "We are not a profession that very often stands up and says: 'Look at me — tell me what a good job I am doing'." Second, she would like to eliminate the dismissive word "just" from society's vocabulary — at least when referencing a profession or vocation. "We are not 'just nurses', 'just teachers', 'just cops', 'just mums', or 'just dads'," Brassington added. "Yes, I am #proudtobejustanurse."
Bustle has reached out to Caitlin Brassington for comment and will update the article as we hear back ...