Today, I had a nursing student text me, obviously upset. (Yes, I have given several nursing students my phone number. I mentor people, ok? lol) Apparently, the whole Staff/Rod of Asclepius/Caduceus subject came up. The Caduceus was originally depicted on their class shirts, and someone wanted to change the symbol because it was ‘wrong’. Apparently, a ridiculously pretentious neurologist told the class that they should change the symbol, because the error indicated a ‘community college attitude’. This is going to take me a few paragraphs, and perhaps a drink. Stay with me.
- The error actually came about because of the US Army Medical Corps, who began using it in 1902. It is also the symbol of the Navy Hospital Corps, of which I am a proud lifetime member. So, neurologist…. since the closest you have ever come to a uniform was the one your prep school wore, kindly stuff it. For real. We, the Navy Hospital Corps are extremely proud of our symbol; which because of its long use, has become a medical symbol. The symbol for ‘STOP’ is fairly new too. That doesn’t make it invalid. It was first used in 1915. Please fail to stop at a few dozen and explain to the police officer that the symbol is too new to be valid. Also, it was changed a ton of times between 1915 and 1966 until a law standardized its use. So the age of a symbol does not make it valid, and we can make our own traditions in the modern age. Also, stuff it again.
- I am going to clarify the term ‘community college attitude’. Does that mean a ‘dumb’ attitude? Or does it mean a ‘permanently wrong attitude’? Or maybe a ‘completely uneducated’ attitude? “A ‘totally out of touch with the world’ attitude? We have enough problems in nursing without physicians throwing their two cents in to fire up an argument. I highly doubt that you, Sir have ever been aware of the educational level of a nurse who saved your behind. It probably wasn’t your first priority when you were ordering ten times too much potassium, or failing to order INR’s on your warfarin-prescribed patient. You were most likely too busy wiping off the cold sweat to ask her where she went to school. While we may or may not need a single level of practice entry, we certainly do NOT need your insults.
- Nursing students: You have larger priorities than a symbol. Your class T-shirt will be long dust, and you will be short staffed and operating in a dangerous environment in no time. While you are chewing over the relative merits of ancient symbols, your classmates and contemporaries are doing something that actually matters. That is, bringing unity to a profession of rugged individualists; going to safe staffing rallies; signing petitions; calling and writing their representatives. You know…useful stuff. You just get back to your comparative mythology.
Oh, and as we know….I love Physicians. Except that one. Don’t let anyone give you another reason for division.
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