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On Call: Leadership in Nursing

Nursing Is More Than A Stethoscope and Scrubs

Published May 3, 2016 8:04 AM by Martie Moore

 A stethoscope and a pair of scrubs stimulated a national discussion on nursing several months ago during the Miss America pageant. You may recall Miss Colorado wearing these items while presenting a monologue about what it means to be a nurse. 

Daytime talk show "The View" made commentary about her stethoscope and scrubs.  It ignited dialogue and raised a swell of voices around one common theme -- we love nurses!  Nurses spoke in a single voice about the stethoscope and how the tool is used in their profession to help save lives every day. Some physicians confessed they were less skilled in using the stethoscope than the nurses they worked alongside. Scrubs, and the reason why nurses wear them, also hit social and mainstream media. 

"What is a nurse?" became coffee house musings.  While I too felt emotions as I watched the comments on TV, a conversation with my granddaughter struck the greatest emotional chord.  

My ever-so-observant granddaughter asked, "GMa, why are you a nurse?"  I explained to her my years of schooling, the depth of my experience and skills, and the vast opportunities I experienced as a nurse.  I shared how I have patients to this day I have not forgotten...their story imprinted forever in my memory, who now have become part of my life story. I reflected on saving lives and making a difference to those I served.  I went into how I love using evidence to advance practice.  I love seeing advancement of quality care and excellence.  In my excitement of nursing, I elaborated on how healthcare is the most complex industry and I love being a part of that complexity.  I explained how nursing is the hub of the wheel called healthcare.  I used descriptions to help her understand how incredible - and hard - being a nursing is these days.  I forgot that her world is influenced by Disney's Doc Mcstuffins.  In her six-year-old wisdom, she looked at me and said, "GMa, you are a nurse because you care."

Oh little one, so well said.  We are nurses because we care.  We care about humanity.  In our caring we understand that the simple act of shaving the face of a hospitalized homeless man must be done with respect and dignity.  In our caring, we understand that families and their loved ones are not at their best when faced with a healthcare crisis. We meet them right where they are at and provide support and guidance.  In our caring, we understand the importance of human connection.  We go beyond what is expected to assure a patient can feel the fur of their beloved miniature pony, or another can feel the sun on their face before the last breath is taken.

Nursing has been described as one of the hardest but most rewarding professions.  I would not argue that point at all. Sacrifices are made to be a nurse. Yet I, like many, would not change being a nurse.  Nurses make a difference every day.  Their care and compassion have no boundaries and reaches beyond traditional walls of healthcare settings.  Their vision for betterment of those they serve keeps their spirit alive and touches the heart and soul of many.  Nursing is not about a stethoscope and scrubs.  It is about the people who wear them -genuine, incredible people who are the heart and soul of healthcare.  

In the words of a very wise six year old, "Nurses are awesome!" 

Medline honors and celebrates the contributions of all nurses not only during National Nurses Week but throughout the year. From leadership roles and research, to bedsides and in schools and retail clinics, these vital men and women of the profession are redefining what delivery of care and compassion mean today. 


Agree much. We are truly the cornerstone of caring. I believe that it is not only the scrub and stethoscope that matters  it is all about our passion in caring other people who we do not have any relationship but the connections we have to care for people . As a newly nursing graduate  i want to be more than just someone wearing those scrubs and using stethoscope but i want to be someone who will be fulfilled everyday because everyday you help people have more time . ... it is the time you give to also give more time to their friends and families

anabelle uddipa, student May 10, 2016 9:33 PM

Excellent article, particularly regarding The View & the resultant wave & backlash on scrubs/stethoscope usage. Great piece!

Diane , Acute care - Educator (on leave), Advocate May 5, 2016 1:37 PM
Libertyville IL

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