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What card game are you playing today?

By: American Nurse Today

“They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day.” So said State Sen. Maureen Walsh of Washington in her effort to add an amendment to state legislation to expand breaks for nurses. The amendment, which passed, exempts small hospitals in Washington from expanded break rules.

Nurses across the country are reacting to Walsh’s comments with memes displaying how they aren’t playing cards, but are instead saving lives, working extra hours, and in some cases taking no breaks at all (not even to eat or go to the bathroom). The Washington State Nurses Association issued a statement calling Walsh’s comments “incredibly disrespectful and patronizing.” The association also noted the illogic of giving some nurses protections, but not all.

The American Nurses Association had this to say on social media: “It’s disappointing that an elected official is so uninformed about #nurses, the nation’s most trusted profession. Let’s educate others about what we do and make our voices heard at every level of government.”

American Nurse Today wants to hear from you. Use the hashtags #notplayingcards and #savinglives.

Sources: Forbes, Mother Jones, CBS News


22 Comments. Leave new

  • I know she has apologized but the damage has been done. I also hope she has the guts to follow a nurse around for even 4 hours!

  • William Eric Stone BSNRN
    April 30, 2019 3:39 pm

    W E Stone BSNRN
    I have been in healthcare for 12 years after retiring from the Bricklayers union at 45. Nursing takes as much physical stamina as most construction work, beyond the stress which as no equal that I have found. But for the fact that for the most part we work indoors that would be the primary advantage. In healthcare I have been an EMT,1 year, Nurses aide 3 years, LPN 4 years, and now RN for 4 years. It has been the best time, and also the worst time of my life, often at the same moment. I dare anyone other than someone that works in healthcare to fully understand that statement! As I contemplate going on for a Master degree I would like to teach nursing. As such I intend upon including in my instruction the experience of being judged by individuals that have no clue as to what they are talking about. An all too common experience for nurses.

  • Michelle Skillings
    April 30, 2019 3:03 pm

    I am a registered nurse and I have worked 35 years as a Chief Nursing Officer most of my years working in critical access hospitals which are smaller community hospitals usually 25 beds or less. What I would like to share with Senator Walsh is nurses that work in smaller hospitals wear many hats at the same time. The nurses working in smaller hospitals have to maintain their competency in many areas because they never know whats coming through the door. They do not have lift teams, code teams or IV teams.In many cases the nurse or nurses working in the smaller hospital is the team. I have never witnessed any nurse whether small or large playing cards while on duty. I would like to offer Senator Walsh the opportunity to meet any of our nurses and learn what these nurses really do.

  • Elaine McDunnah
    April 26, 2019 4:49 pm

    I have been a nurse for more than 40 years, the last 25 in the operating room. Never have I had time to “play cards” as senator Walsh stated. I frequently went without breaks or meals. We nurses put our patients first. I invite the senator to follow a nurse for a week, I bet she wouldn’t make it through one 12 hour shift! Shame on you senator! You should think before opening your mouth.

  • Sierra Dawn Elsey
    April 25, 2019 10:56 am

    My response to Senator Maureen Walsh’s statement:

    This is the best read out loud:

    As a Registered Nurse, I am astounded by the comments that Senator Walsh made debating SHB 1155, which implores for mandatory break time for nurses. Is it really true that mandating breaks would cause a critical access facility to close its doors? If that’s the case, then we, as Americans, are doing something very, very wrong.
    Maybe, though, we, as nurses, are partly to blame for the lack of education about what exactly it is that we do at work and during these “breaks.” For 13 years I have worked at a rural healthcare facility. Much like a critical access hospital, often we do not many patients.
    Does that mean we have extra nurses sitting around playing cards? No. We have to cut staffing, and have more of a work load. Senator Walsh assumes many things throughout her statement. She assumes that we get an opportunity to sit down. That is often not the case. In fact, let’s be honest. If a nurse has an opportunity to sit down, it is on a toilet, momentarily, to use the restroom, which often he or she does not feel that there is time for even that. Senator Walsh has never stood beside a laboring mother for hours, without leaving. Nurses do it every day. Senator Walsh has never held the hand of a dying patient, and missed dinner with her family. Nurses do it every day.
    In all my time, as a patient or nurse, I have never seen a group of nurses sitting around playing cards. However, that is not the part of Senator Walsh’s statements that gets to me the most. It is the fact that she implored to a group of politicians that by mandating breaks for nurses, patient care would be compromised! Yes, in fact, she stated, “we need to care for patients first and foremost . . .” Nurses know this more than anyone else. We advocate, plan, care for and invest in patient lives every single day. Our patients come first so much, in fact, that we sacrifice our own bodies by missing breaks to care for them. This bill is to provide a better environment for nurses, so that breaks are a part of the expected culture. Most nurses work 12-hour shifts. Some work nights. We have varicose veins, enlarged bladders, sleep disruptions and many other problems caused the sacrifices we make to put patient care first. NURSES PUT THE PATIENT FIRST. But, I ask you, who will care for the nurse? If we don’t start to advocate for the nurse providing care, then the nurse becomes the patient and who will care for the patient? Will it be Senator Walsh or our politicians? Though the statements made were based on an extreme lack of evidence, knowledge and experience, it has helped bring light to the desperate need in America to care for the nurse.

    Sierra Dawn Elsey
    Registered Nurse
    International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
    Bachelor of Science in Nursing
    Bachelor of Science and Health Science
    Doctorate of Nursing Practice Student

  • Audrey Simpson
    April 25, 2019 9:47 am

    I do not know who this Walsh person is, but shame on you.
    You should not be in any public office and be allowed to make comments such as this. I have been a nurse for over 40years, I have taking care of thousands of patients over the years and somehow taking time to play cards is not one of them. Here are some of the thing I did not find time to do; going to the bathroom when I feel like beeping all over myself, when I needed to drink water, taking time to eat after working nonstop for 8 hours of more. Not finding the time to talk to my sick child who is at home with a sitter, to communicate with my sister who having surgery to remove cancer for her back. My time was spending taking care of patients preventing blood reaction, resp failures, sepsis, preventing central line infection, urinary tract infection. renal future, heling people to recover for backs, knees hips and heart surgeries. mastectomy and the list go on, comforting dying patients and holding their hands and till they leave this earth. Attending nurse’s funeral who main purpose in life was to care for the sick in our community and make them whole again, nurses who may never heard the words thanks you. Nurses who hold the hands of patient when the doctors tell them you have two weeks to live and you have a stage 4. Cancer. Tell me what you have done with your life and what is your life stories because my life as nursing Stories will never end. Nursing it about caring for my community caring for those who are sick and restoring the health of our people nursing is excellent, integrity, compassion and caring for humanity and much more. Nursing is not about playing cards, it about saving lives.

  • Sherri LaCroix
    April 24, 2019 12:12 pm

    I am a Registered Nurse and Certified Wound Care Nurse. I have worked in the hospital, home care, hospice, infection prevention, and the only wound care nurse in a safety net hospital for over 20 years. In those years I have never “played cards” while on duty. I went to Senator Walsh’s page and noticed that she is on the committee for human service. How could someone so far out in left field be on a committee she clearly knows nothing about? I believe Senator Walsh should make a public apology to all nurses. She has with the wag of the tongue attempted to disgrace and disrespect a profession that is entirely human. So in the future (if you continue to have a future in politics) please think before you open your mouth. #nursessavelives #nursesareunited

  • Ann Petersen-Smith
    April 24, 2019 4:51 am

    You should be ashamed of yourself for speaking on a topic that you CLEARLY have no knowledge of. I join my colleagues to tell you about the work that I have dedicated the last 40 years of my life to. I am privileged to have worked with children and families; at the beginning of life and unfortunately at the end of life. I may have spent time playing with sick children so that they would not be so scared or lonely during their hospitalization; however, never really had time to play cards with my colleagues, or eat a meal, or go to the bathroom, or change my clothing covered in body fluids that were not mine. I have been a nurse educator for several years and I guarantee you that nowhere in their curriculum is there time to teach them how to play cards. They are too busy learning to take care of people like you, your mother or father, sister or brother, and your son or daughter. They learn to give medications safely, watch carefully for adverse events, be there when conditions change so rapidly that every single second requires their attention. They learn to save lives!
    Perhaps you will heed the comments that I am sure you have gotten from all over the world. Please be informed before you open your mouth to speak ill of any other profession or person.

  • Tamara Royse
    April 24, 2019 1:06 am

    #notplayingcards #savinglives – copied from my facebook post.

    I admit, we played a-lot of poker at the rural hospital I worked – this gambling game was a real life Texas Hold Em’ – the objective was to figure out how to do the best you could with what you had so you could stabilize your patient long enough to live to make it to a big hospital an hour or two away (while still caring for the 18 in-patients on your end of the unit. Winner took all, no one whined, and I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything in the world. Senator, you know nothing about your topic but feel entitled to present yourself as an expert with no facts and a questionable moral compass. Either learn about your topic and seek to understand – or sit down and shut up.

  • Sometimes when I think about some of the cases I’ve been on I just get real quiet and won’t answer any questions.

  • It’s hard to believe that this senator is so uninformed about the daily duties and many responsibilities of a nurse. We work very long hours often without taking a break all day, missing meals, and are exhausted every day. As a nurse I have often comforted my patients, and even cried with them, we are advocates for our patients, always trying to ensure they recieve the best care. l hope this senator never needs a nurse, but she may some day, and when that day comes maybe she will gain a real understanding of what we do and how hard we work. We risk our own safety to go to work and take care of patient’s during horrible snow storms. Can this senator say the same? I doubt it. She should follow a nurse for just one day, if she can keep up!

  • Harriette A Carr
    April 23, 2019 5:40 pm

    I graduated in 1966 and I have never seen a deck of cards in any of the hospitals I have ever worked in. As an Infection Control Professional I would have confiscated them and tossed them out if I had ever seen them because there is no way to keep them clean. As a patient, I have never seen a deck of cards available for patients to use either.

    Tst, tst, tst, this state senator needs a new hobby….

  • Sorry,
    In my response …
    I didnt notice that senator Walsh is a female… I was too busy tendering to my professional nursing duties

  • Linda L. Steeg DNP RN MS, ANP-BC
    April 23, 2019 5:27 pm

    it’s obvious that this very misinformed gentleman has never been a patient, otherwise he would be better informed

  • Martha W Addison, RN
    April 23, 2019 5:18 pm

    Oh please, please let me know where this facility is where you as a nurse plays cards!!! I’d love to work there because as a nurse of over 40 years I have eaten while charting, missed meals, missed going to the restroom as 8 hour shifts turned into 10, 10 hour shifts turned into 12 hours and 12 hour days turned into 14. As a result, my kidneys and bladder have suffered as well as having numerous bone and joint issues that are not attributed to a specific injury. This legislative person needs to do a 12 hour shift with any nurse on a typical medical surgical floor so that she can get some understanding, forget appreciation, of how nurses ruin their own bodies as we take on this “noble profession”. Please feel free to contact me; I’d love to enlighten and educate you! Thank you.

  • I wish I had time to play cards or eat lunch for that matter.

  • Mary Ellen Cubbon
    April 23, 2019 4:10 pm

    #Not Playing Cards, instead I work every day to ensure that Hospice gives excellent care to all people regardless of where they live or any other circumstances. I have gone out in blizzards where the snow was not shoveled in front of a house to give basic care because the Home Health Aide could not make it. I am never able to take a lunch and teach the whole agency how to give empathetic care and excellent case management. Someday I welcome you to spend a week in my shoes.

  • Does she not realize she may need a nurse to take care of her someday?? Has she ever spent the day with a nurse? Maybe she should!

  • Geraldine Trainor
    April 23, 2019 4:00 pm

    I am a home care nurse for 30+ im more than happy to have any senator accompany me for a day to actually see how important nurses are to the people we care for.

  • Barry Torrente
    April 23, 2019 3:57 pm

    Ignorance is bliss in Washington. I worked as an R.N. for 46 years, was physically and emotionally abused by patient’s and families. I rarely had time to take a break, and when I did go to the bathroom, it might have been twice in a 16 hour shift. I ate lunch or dinner at the desk, constantly watching my monitors. You, as so many entitled politicians are so out of touch with reality, I have to wonder what working and educational experience you have to make such a uninformed statement. My suspicion is that you sit on your butt most of the day, doing nothing but taking tax payer money and not being held accountable for your many mistakes. An R.N. will be fired if they make a simple mistake, the accountability is overwhelming. WAKE UP!!!!!

  • Miriam Smothers
    April 23, 2019 3:32 pm

    As an RN of over 32 years, I can say that more often than not I have foregone a break during my shift only to realize when I got home that I had not had a break since I left for work that day. Not only do I find the senators comments offensive, I have dedicated my life to improving my patients lives, despite the long hours and high patient acuity. This is and opportunity to educate those who truly do not understand the great importance that nurses provide to the organizations, community, and global population health.

  • Bless her little takotsubo heart!


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