By Diana Duong and Dr. Sharon Vorona
This week, a state senator in Washington came under fire for suggesting nurses in rural hospitals play cards during their shifts.
Maureen Walsh made the comment while arguing against bill SHB 1155, which would provide nurses with mandatory uninterrupted meal and rest breaks.
During the debate, the Republican senator argued for an amendment that would exempt staff in critical-access hospitals and hospitals with fewer than 25 beds from the meal and rest provisions.
“By putting these types of mandates on a critical access hospital that literally serves a handful of individuals, I would submit to you those nurses probably do get breaks,” Walsh said. “They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day”
Trust me, nurses haven’t earned the title “most trusted profession” for seventeen years running by “playing cards” on our shifts. WA Sen. Maureen Walsh should be ashamed to use #nurses to score cheap political points like this. #1U #nurseslife pic.twitter.com/ucm89ezpDj— Bonnie Castillo (@NNUBonnie) April 19, 2019
Memes and satirical articles abound, and hundreds of nurses and physicians are using the hashtag #showyourcards to list the struggles, heartbreak, and dark moments that nurses face instead of playing cards. Here are a few examples:
Dr. Samina Ali, a pediatric emergency physician from Edmonton, Alberta, noted that nurses care about both patients and physicians.
Ran a code on a newborn in the emergency, while 26 weeks pregnant. 15 years later, my nursing colleagues still ask me if i’m ok, because they remember that day. Nurses care deeply. #showmeyourcards— Samina Ali (@drsaminaali) April 22, 2019
Dr. Navneet Majhail, the director of the Blood & Marrow Transplant Program at the Cleveland Clinic, expressed his gratitude for nurses in his department.
In anesthesiologist Dr. Alexandra Anderson’s words: “Nurses take care of everyone in the hospital.”
Back from maternity w my first, thrown into call and long periods w/o pumping, it was the OR nurses who looked out for me: brought me snacks/water, found places for me to pump, hugged me and told me I’m a good mom. Nurses take care of everyone in the hospital. #showmeyourcards— Alexandra Anderson, M.D. (@AlexAndersonMD) April 21, 2019
Dr. Matthew Dixon, an assistant professor of surgery, hepatopancreatobiliary (HPB) surgeon and surgical oncologist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, said Walsh’s comments were “misguided.”
1) RNs are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to patient care— Matt Dixon (@mebdixon) April 22, 2019
2) I doubt I was the only one thinking “oh snap!” when I heard #maureenwalsh comments…pissing them off on a population level like this is extremely misguided #showmeyourcards #nursesdontplaycards #NursesDeserveABreak https://t.co/2lWpZaKZIK
This Los Angeles-based critical access emergency physician said nurses don’t get enough credit for all the work they do.
My nurses: start IVs, draw blood, watch vitals, CHARTING, manage sedation, administer drugs, calculate shit, SET UP PUMPS AND OTHER SORCERY, move the fucking patient, position everything, give report 1000 times, and still did EVERYTHING ELSE for 10 OTHER PATIENTS!!! pic.twitter.com/lhS26zRGJI— tyrion, md | los angeles (@raw_em_md) April 21, 2019
Dr. Brian Mangum, an epidemiologist in Fiji says nurses not only empathize with patients but also with physicians. He cannot recall an instance of nurses playing cards.
It was the #nurses who gave us hugs, held our hands, & cried w us when both my parents died from cancer. They knew us & our stories from hours of chemo, rad tx, & appointments. Don’t think I recall them playing cards. #HugANurse they deserve it! #SenatorWalsh #ShowYourCards— Dr Brian Mangum (@MangumBrian) April 22, 2019
Other nurses shared the heartbreak they frequently face.
I hope Senator Walsh never has to hold a mother who just lost her child, do postmortem care on someone her own age, call a fathers children on Father’s Day morning to inform them he passed…..— Courtney Whiting (@courtley_2319) April 21, 2019
because I would have much rather played cards than do all of those.#showyourcards pic.twitter.com/IzCdusFgNR
I called your family to come to the hospital because I knew you weren’t going to make it through the night. They were all with you when you passed. Your daughter gave me the biggest hug and thanked me for everything. #ShowYourCards— Brandon, RN (@B_Grizz) April 21, 2019
Hey #nurses let’s show Washington State #SenatorWalsh our cards, I’ll start:— Briana White MSN, RN, CPN, CCRN-K, CNL (@ColorfulRN) April 19, 2019
I’m a pediatric nurse who has comforted a teenager who was dying from cancer, preformed CPR on a patient who didn’t make it, has seen the horrors of child abuse & opioid epidemic…#showyourcards
You were 18. You were supposed to be finishing high school and picking up your prom tux. Your brain was inflamed. You were unresponsive and your airway was gone. I supported your mom as she wailed. #showyourcards @senatorwalsh— Natalie Loops, RN, MSN, CNL, CPC-A (@NLoops) April 21, 2019
You got me, I played cards at work. I skipped my break to play Go Fish with my six-year old patient who was there by herself. #showyourcards— SnowWhiteRNalmost MSN 🎓 (@SnowWhiteRNaz) April 20, 2019
Walsh has since apologized, claiming she was “tired” when she made this comment. She’s also said she has the “greatest respect” for nurses, saying her own mother was a registered nurse. She has also agreed to shadow a nurse for 12 hours.
“I really don’t believe nurses at our critical access hospitals spend their days playing cards, but I did say it, and I wish I could reel it back,” Walsh said earlier this week. trying to draw a comparison between urban and rural hospital staffing needs.”
The case doctors are talking about this week
Show, don’t tell. When it comes to discussing a medical error, this general surgeon found it easier to display the problem rather than explain it. The patient presented with nausea and vomiting. Can you spot the issue? See the discussion here.
This case is featured in the most recent issue of The Differential, our regular email roundup of fascinating medical cases shared on the Figure 1 network. To get this newsletter and other specialty-specific editions, healthcare professionals can sign up for a free Figure 1 account here.