There is a relatively new private Facebook group called Show Me Your Stethoscope or SMYS . This group was started shortly after the September episode of the View where a Miss America contestant was mocked for wearing a stethoscope and explaining her job as her “talent”. As a result, nurses wrote into the network as to how they were mistakenly depicted and well as their pride of being a nurse (which included wearing a stethoscope). The end result of this maelstrom of emotions and passion, led to the formation of “Show Me Your Stethoscope”, a Facebook private group whose mission is to “connect, engage, and advocate for ALL people through our promotion of unity and solidarity as an organization of nurses alongside other amazing healthcare professionals globally”.
What is amazing about this new Facebook group is that it has reignited a public passion for nursing, while providing a platform for nurses to talk about important issues. The issues have included:
- Graduating from nursing school and how to best study for the NCLEX exams. The NCLEX exams stand for National Council Licensure Examination; its purpose is to determine if one is safe to begin practice as an entry level nurse. The posts related to the NCLEX offer studying tips, emotional support and encouragement, which is incredibly valuable for new nurses who are full of fear and angst about passing the exam. In addition, it provides a place for nurses to post the incredible pride of finally putting RN after their name and their first jobs.
- Safe Staffing and the continued pressure to work extra shifts. Because hospitals and most health care institutions are staffed 24/7, there is the pressure to ensure sufficient staff for each shift. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons (staff turnover, sickness, vacations, budget cuts and increased patient acuity), nurses are asked to work extra shifts. For a nurse who has already worked her (or his)  twelve hour shifts in one week (and possibly consecutively), an extra 12 -24 hours can be exceedingly difficult. Not only is there the concern of exhaustion, lack of physical stamina and mental acuity but also patient safety.
SMYS provides emotional support for nurses to care for one’s self and question their ability to provide safe care with the additional shifts. As nurses, we are caregivers but sometimes to the detriment of our own health.
- Nursing issues. Nurses need support, whether dealing and communicating with difficult patient or family, prickly coworkers or administration; the possible lack of familial support; new job; certification examinations or health issues in family and friends. As one can well imagine, a public Facebook post or Tweet might not be the best place to discuss many of the work related issues. Instead there is the the need for a safe forum to discuss a work related issue (while maintaining a patient’s security). Because it is such a large group, with members from virtually everywhere around the world, the responses vary in depth, content and concern. The posts typically provide a deep sense of respect and support for each other, wherever the nursing journey leads us.
- Nursing Questions. What is the most important lesson you have learned as a nurse? As a nurse, do you actually find a usage for the nursing care plans written in nursing school? These two statements are reflective of the type of posed questions on SMYS. Important lessons learned might include practicing patience, taking time for your patients, letting go and letting God, as well as practicing self care with nurturing healthy foods and exercise. The purpose of nursing care plans typically includes statements from nurses working in the long term care setting, whereby nurses are continually writing and updating nursing care plans as part of the required charting in a LTC setting.
- Nursing Aides and Licensed Practical Nurses. Nurse’s aides can typically be seen as less than an RN, especially since they do not have the formal instruction or the higher wages of an RN. Unfortunately, nursing aides might be mistakenly placed at the bottom of the totem pole or not deserving of the respect which is a foolhardy summation of their worth. Nurse’s aides continually help the RN as an important team member with changing a patient’s briefs, turning a patient in bed, ambulating a patient down the hall, answering call lights, taking and reporting vital signs as well as the all important checking on patients. If an RN does not have a good relationship with the nurse’s aide on her unit, her shift becomes a shift in isolation without that extra pair of hands, eyes and ears. SMYS routinely supports and upholds nurse’s aides, so they feel like the valued team member they are.
The same is for the Licensed Practical Nurses or LPN, another team member without the same education and skill set as an RN. An LPN’s role is increasingly important in LTC, where they either work alongside or under the RN, providing the necessary care for our aging population. In SMYS, they are also seen as important team members. worthy of respect and support. SYMC the builds team members up, instead of tearing them down.
- Life in General. Lastly, SMYS has become a forum to provide support for each other for a variety of additional reasons, which might include family death, change in marital status, personal health issues and the like. As nurses we are busy professionals and we might not always get the necessary support from our co workers during a busy shift. SMYS then can provide a place to talk about our lives, much like we do with our coworkers. As caregivers, we care for others and need that support to assure we care for ourselves. After all, it is difficult to give to others, when our own vessels are empty or void of belonging to the larger group of nurses.
In summary, SMYS provides an essential forum for health care professionals, allowing and encouraging support and respect among its members. All it takes is a request to join and the time to read to either read or skim the important posts. While SMYC might not take the place of a coffee date of phone call with your dearest confidant, it does however serve as a place to receive those connections, which prevents isolation and raises spirits.