Nursing and Fake News


The second most important job a nurse can do is to follow your doctor’s orders while caring for you.

Second most important job? What can be more important to a nurse than following your doctor’s orders?

Nobody would even need a doctor’s orders – or a nurse – if the doctor stayed with you all day and all night. But doctors do not do that. When they are away, they write orders for nurses to follow. Unfortunately, however, if you are sick, your needs can change in an instant, and new orders are needed.

That’s when a nurse’s job becomes more than following your doctor’s orders. The job becomes following your doctor’s intent. If your condition changes suddenly, your nurse might have to change your care just as suddenly before the doctor gets back. Nurses do not only work, they think. And thinking can be the hardest work a person can do.

This week the Jamestown Gazette celebrates National Nurses Week from Monday, May 6 through Sunday, May 12. In 2019, the week has arrived amid a social media storm of controversy about nurses. It has already spawned thousands of Tweets, Facebook messages, YouTube videos, and blog posts. Google “Nurses playing cards.”
At the heart of the controversy is a politician who was quoted speaking about nurses who work in special, rural hospitals in her district. She said that “…they [nurses] probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day…then they come back and start talking out of both sides of their mouth and telling us how tired they are.”

That person may be one of the most misinformed in the country, and it is probably a nurses’ fault because, like many skilled professionals, they can do their work so well they don’t appear to break a sweat. They can think on their feet and stay calm. People who are good at what they do can make it look so easy, nobody could guess how hard they are really working.

For National Nurses Week, the Jamestown Gazette invites our readers to take inspiration from the people – the nurses – who deal in life-and-death situations, occasions of pain and danger, yet manage to instill confidence and comfort in the people they care for, and their families and friends.

Fortunately, in their fuller context, that politician’s words appear to have been merely a poorly crafted attempt to actually help nurses who worked in her district. She was actually trying to improve legislature in their favor. She has since apologized for stating her case so poorly and has arranged to work alongside nurses for one or more full, 12-hour shifts at hospitals in her district.

The controversy arose for two reasons:

  1. Poorly chosen words by the politician, and
  2. Poorly and partially quoted words reported out of context by the media, and worse, the social media.

In other words, both the nurses and the politician were victims of “fake news” and “junk reporting.”

Even more important is the extreme danger of believing what you see, hear, and read on social media. With elections coming up, the most dangerous practice is to trust social media for accurate, truthful, and balanced reporting.

The more what you see angers you (or agrees with you), the more you should distrust it. Do your own research. The truth always has two (or more) sides. Do not ever trust social media for accurate reporting. It’s National Nursing Week and they didn’t deserve the controversy and turmoil.

So, please join the Jamestown Gazette this week in congratulating our nurses for their work and dedication. Remember that in following your doctor’s orders, your nurse also brings your doctor’s intentions to your bedside for every minute of the day and night that your doctor cannot be there.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.