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Don't call this woman 'just a nurse'

(Facebook/Caitlin Brassington)
(Facebook/Caitlin Brassington)

For the past 18 years, Australian mother of three Caitlin Brassington has worked as a pediatric and child health nurse. She has had a full career that’s included holding patients hands as they’ve taken their last breath, bringing babies into the world, performing CPR and, well, saving lives. But when she was referred to as “just a nurse” by an acquaintance earlier this week, it was the final straw.

“Over my 18 year career I have heard this phrase many, many times, but today it got to me. Am I just a nurse?” she asked in an open letter written on Instagram that was cross-posted to Facebook.

‘Just a Nurse’. 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 realise 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? 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! #justanurse #love #nurse #mum #happy #taganurse #thankanurse #proud #workingmom #proudtobejustanurse

A photo posted by Caitlin Brass✨ (@caitbrassington) on Oct 6, 2016 at 10:47pm PDT

In the post, she lists the many reasons why calling someone “just” a nurse really isn’t fair.

“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.”

She outlines the many aspects of her job, both big and small as well as the sacrifices — like missing Christmas Day with her family — that come with “just” being 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.”

In an interview with ABC News 24 in Australia, Brassington discussed the post, blaming history for the way society undervalues roles like being a nurse, a teacher, a parent and so on.

“I don’t think any profession should have the word ‘just’ in front of it,” she said. “Many of my friends in the past have called themselves just a stay-at-home mom and I think that role is enormous.”

(Instagram/caitbrassington)
(Instagram/caitbrassington)

Immediately after putting up the post, Brassington wondered if she had been a little too hasty with her remarks but now she’s happy that she did and says that the response has been overwhelming.

“The support, appreciation, recognition and love for nurses has been, and continues to be, truly humbling,” she told ABC News. “We are not a profession that very often stands up and says: ‘Look at me — tell me what a good job I am doing.’ And I think, because of this, we rarely actually hear what the greater community sees in us.”

“So many of the comments have touched me.”

What do you think of Brassington’s open letter? Let us know by tweeting to @YahooStyleCA.