The Customer is NEVER Right - A Nurse Practitioner's Perspective
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The Last Word

Before reading this blog watch this video as the blog may influence your opinion of such if you read the blog before watching the video. So, please watch the video first.
I have watched this video over and over and over. The first time I watched it I found it repugnant, to say the least, and with each viewing it has been even more so. Yet, I have forced myself to watch at least a dozen times. Why? Not because I am a glutton for punishment but because I am trying to see what others find so amazing.

There are a number of versions of the same video online, some long and some short, but all and all the theme is the same. This one in particular has been on YouTube for some four months and had been viewed some 4,295 times, “Liked” 59 times, “Disliked” 0 and commented on once before I came across it. As if not enough attention a similar version of the video is posted on a nurses’ association Facebook page where it was “Liked” over 2,700 times, shared almost 17,000 times and more than 500 comments applauded the video.
Although I did not go through all 500 comments and understand that even all 500 comments, as a sample, would be statistically negligible here is a sample of the comments I did read:

-Thank you so much, you made my 30+ years as a nurse worthwhile…
-Thank you Mr. O’Donnell for the kind words…
-Makes me proud to have been a nurse for 43 years. Thank you, Sir…
-I almost cry with your speech…
-WOW! Proud to be a nurse!
-Every single healthcare worker must see this!!!
Well, I am a healthcare worker and I have seen it, a number of times, and despite all those viewing I still want to vomit. Having said that, the urge to vomit is not because of the number of times I have seen it as I almost threw up the first time I saw it as I found it hollow, to say the least. Not to mention, that after seeing it so many times it should have grown on me but it hasn’t. I just do not see what it is others are so fascinated with and much less all gaga about. What I do know is that my nausea has not resolved.
Allow me to make my point. Unfortunately, in order to see where I am coming from the video must be watched. I hope I have not ruined it if you have not seen the video but it must be watched before going further.
This is how it goes, Mr. O’Donnell’s words in quotes followed by my two sense [sic] as to why I might puke.
O’Donnell-“I never been hospitalized before. I had never seen the extraordinary daily kindness and heroism of nurses up close. I had never depended on them.”
Well, Mr. O’Donnell, allow me to enlighten you, most people in our country, and the world for that fact, are not hospitalized. On that fact alone, your words are a really lame reason as to why anyone would say they have never seen the “extraordinary daily kindness and heroism of nurses up close”.
Why lame? Nurses are not just in hospitals, nurses are everywhere, homeless shelters, sports arenas, schools, offices and the list goes on and on. Not to mention, nurses have been the most trusted professionals for 13 of the last 14 years that polls have ranked professions for their honesty and ethical standards.
For the sake of argument, let’s just say that Mr. O’Donnell has NEVER interacted with nurses, however far fetch that seem because as a television reporter I would believe, and I could be wrong, that at a minimum, despite television reporters being 7 from the bottom of 22 professions, where they are tied with lawyers and just above car sales persons and members of congress, Mr. O’Donnell would have some knowledge of nurses’ honesty and ethical ranking, which might have hinted him to the nurses’ “extraordinary daily kindness and heroism” he was so amazed with. But then, I could be wrong in fantasizing that a television reporter might see the world differently than from where he “sits” to read a teleprompter, thus the audacity to say he has never interacted with nurses.
So, maybe it’s not that Mr. O’Donnell has NEVER been exposed to the amazing work nurses do daily, as that is well documented and I would think, and I could be wrong, that with being 7th from the bottom a reporter would be aware of what he wants his profession to be more like.
So, then, maybe it’s just that he “had never depended on them” and because of that nurses are not worthy of his pompous acknowledgement. I know. I know. Too confrontational for nurses to mention but I, me, not nursing, but me, I think that would be more plausible than his claim that he has NEVER seen the work nurses do.
O’Donnell-“I never been more dependent on anyone in my adulthood and never been more grateful.”
What does that mean? It is likely critics will say I have taken his words out of content but here it goes anyhow. I, myself, have never been dependent on anyone either, but I am antisocial and do not seek others. Yet, I have always been grateful. Anyhow, regardless of being dependent or not I still do not get his part of not acknowledging others. Oh, I see it now. He actually said “more”, like “more dependent” and “more grateful”. I guess some people have to hit rock bottom before they can be humbled to admit they are not alone on the planet.
Then it goes from bad to worse. Like really bad! Just to be sure I was not making a mountain out of a mole I asked my life [sic] to watch the following segment of the video and her jaw dropped. And she is not a healthcare worker.
O’Donnell-“I gave him [nurse] a thank you note. In a sealed envelope. With some cash in it. A lot of cash in it. A token for my indescribable gratitude.”
While watching that segment of the video and hearing those words for the first time my eyes almost popped out of my head, in shock, as I anticipated that what Mr. O’Donnell was going to tell us was that the nurse took the money. Instead, what Mr. O’Donnell told us was not what I feared but what I hoped for that the nurse returned the money. However, despite the honorable action by the nurse, all the drama and effort by Mr. O’Donnell to make such a comment to only then brush it off as being naïve left a distaste that never went away as the rest of the video was even more disappointing, regardless if the first or the tenth viewing.
At one moment, Mr. O’Donnell even appeared that he would cry, despite he was reading a teleprompter. That observation prior to knowing Mr. O’Donnell was an actor in a previous life but once aware I thought he had given an Oscar-worthy performance, NOT(!), to include the tapping of the desk with regard to his “a lot of cash” comment.
On that note, theatrics I found excessively dramatic only because someone who was offered “a lot of cash” declined it and not so much that the “lot of cash” was declined. Before critics jump on me let me be clear, for no reason do I believe this was an attempt of entrapment but I am curious what the headline would have been had the nurse taken the money.
Because Mr. O’Donnell emphasized he had offered “a lot of cash”, his token of “indescribable gratitude”, I want to ask him, what is “a lot of cash” Mr. O’Donnell? Is what a nurse makes in an hour “a lot of cash”? Is what a nurse makes in a 12-hour shift, a pay period, a month or a year “a lot of cash”? How about a million dollars? What is “a lot of cash” Mr. O’Donnell?
Mr. O’Donnell. Yoo-hoo. Mr. O’Donnell. Sir, allow me to help you off your high horse. Many nurses have been offered a token of indescribable gratitude. Yet, whether “a lot of cash” or a single coin it is not the amount of the token but the gesture that matters. However, I cannot say that ever anyone’s kind gestures included the theatrics you, sir, included in your monolog. From my experience, yes mine, the knitted brow, even I have been offered tokens of indescribable gratitude. Although, each time, four or five times in my career, that token was folded and stealthily placed in my hand or pocket and not in an envelope. Yet, I will have to say that the spoken words of gratitude are by far more common and even priceless. No worries, as all of us in healthcare, I too, declined the cash and whatever was placed in our pockets was always retuned as well.
Nonetheless Mr. O’Donnell went on to say. “[The nurse] told me that it was against his personal ethics and against hospital policies to accept gifts like that. I had no idea. I had no idea I had crossed the line. This was all new to me. So you can tip people who clean your room in hotels but you cannot tip nurses. I did not know that.”
Are you FREAKING kidding me? I almost blew an aneurism the first time I heard that. Why? Because AGAIN! Despite the desire of outsiders wanting healthcare to be like other industries healthcare is not a resort where you “tip people who clean your room”. And if you are really that naïve, as you claim, did you consider tipping housekeeping for cleaning your hospital room? Of course NOT! Yet, you thought you would tip a nurse. You are so full of CRAP! Not to omit, patronizing!
O’Donnell-“[Nurses don't want to be recognized as heroes.] They want to make a living that allows them to support their families and they want to help people in the progress. People they don't even know. Including people who will forget them.”
Doesn’t everyone want to make a living that allows them to support their family? Is that not obvious? Is that not why people work? How does this guy get a show on television despite him being so disconnected from the rest of us who work?
No one goes into healthcare to be a hero. Actually, as I mentioned in the book, healthcare workers forever waiver being heroes when we accept our jobs.
O’Donnell-“Yes, we have a dysfunctional congress.”
Really? What does a dysfunctional ANYTHING, let alone congress, have to do with a monolog of how appreciative you are of nurses? Sir, please allow me to enlighten you, although I would think that if anyone a political analyst would know dysfunctional congresses are more common than not, regardless if Democrats or Republicans are the majority. Yet, somehow, not sure why, you found a place to fit that in your appraisal of nurses. Geez!
I have no idea what Mr. O’Donnell’s politics are and although I could guess I could care less. But really, injecting politics into a monolog about his, “I had never seen the extraordinary daily kindness and heroism of nurses up close” is like somehow finding a way to inject sexism or ageism into the same monolog as well.
Because despite a dysfunctional congress the trash gets picked up, money is exchanged at banks, water heaters will get fixed, lawns will be mowed and trees trimmed, traffic lights will go through their sequences, green, yellow, red and green again, planes will land and take off. So despite a dysfunctional congress, our activities of daily living will go unaffected, for the most part, and so does healthcare. And others find this refreshing. Give me a break!
O’Donnell-“When is the last time you saved a life?”
Again, Sir, in healthcare we do our job; it just happens that does includes, as you said, saving lives and stomping out disease on a daily basis. That is what we signed up for. That is our J-O-B. However, I do not believe it is any more or any less, important than a bank teller, a plumber, a rocket scientist, a sanitation collector, a librarian, a reporter or any other job, although I would not want to do any of those. What matters, as you mentioned, is that we have a job that allows us to support our families.
Thinking I was near the end of the video and how much worse it could get, Mr. O’Donnell brings out “Shannon”. Shannon. Really? I was being entertaining when I mentioned that adding politics to this monolog was like adding sexism and ageism. But racism? Really? Mr. O’Donnell, how, in the world, did you find a way to drag the race card into this too? I am not a psychiatric nurse, but, Sir, you must have some serious issues.
O’Donnell-“I told Shannon that if I had another daughter I would name her Shannon.”
Really? Is this where the tears of those viewing being to flow? Has anyone wondered, WOW! Mr. O’Donnell’s only daughter was born in 1994 and he is 62 years old, yet, somehow this whole experience has led him to consider another daughter. That somehow, after twenty years and not a single desire to consider a playmate for his ONLY daughter until NOW and all because of care at the hand of nurses. How touching! Ms. Nightingale must be so proud of nurses. Please! Another child to join the seven billion already here and for what reason other than so that she can be named Shannon, a nurse. Really? What is the likelihood he will have another daughter? Slim to none. So why would he say that to someone. Oh! “Including people who will forget them,” he said. Sir, VERY few patients ever remember the healthcare worker who cared for them. Most will forget us. We know that and we are okay with that. Who buys into this CRAP! 

I apologize for the pause but I had to go throw up!
Is this guy for real? Just so critics know, I do not have any beef with this character, what his politics are or whether he uses a manual toothbrush versus an oscillating one. It just does not matter to me but dragging the race card into this was unnecessary.
Not that it matters either but for those who do not know the rest of the story, MSNBC executives chartered a plane to pick Mr. O’Donnell up from whatever vacation spot he was in when he had his accident and flew him to a hospital in the USA where a team of surgeons were waiting. WOW! Waiting. Now that is special!
I know surgeons were not likely waiting for him but it surely does sound good. Okay, maybe Mr. O’Donnell does not have everything, like surgeons at his beck and call, but close to everything, in 2010 he was making $2 million per year. Does that matter? Of course NOT! However, it was he who mentioned, “a lot of cash.” Again, I am just asking, what is “a lot of cash”?
Did someone in the Facebook comments mention his words were so eloquent? Well, I would hope so; after all he is a Harvard graduate. Again, so what!
However, I just wanted to point out that of the Ivy League schools only Dartmouth, Yale and Penn offer nursing. Not Harvard. So maybe, just maybe, that’s why Mr. O’Donnell had no clue what it was like to be under the care of nurses. He never knew they existed, as he was not exposed to them at Harvard. Well, of course, that explains it. Not really, just a bit of sarcasm as I found no significance in his monolog, despite his eloquent words and the theatrics.
So, maybe Harvard is not the real reason either but most definitely this guy, Mr. O’Donnell, is out of touch, not only with how the 99% live, but healthcare. One would think that after almost six years of healthcare being in the news, with the Affordable Care Act, that a reporter would have some idea about healthcare but not so. Oh, how naive of me, what healthcare workers do every day is not the political aspect of healthcare so why would a reporter know.

However, it cannot go unnoticed, who else on this planet thinks you should tip healthcare? S&@t! Healthcare struggles with getting paid for services rendered. I could not imagine those persons with outstanding payments dishing out tips too. Who is he kidding when he said? “I had no idea. I had no idea I had crossed the line. This was all new to me.” Really? I am sure at 62 years of age he must have had his prostate checked at least once, did he have an urge to tip that healthcare worker? Sir, please, spare us the drama.
One of the posted comments on the nurse’s association Facebook page:
Oh my God! This got me really teary eyed. This is the most sincere and profound statement of respect and admiration I've heard to us nurses. Having worked in the hospital setting, I lived the life of those nurses. Yes, nurses are everyday heroes. Thank you Mr. O'Donnell.”
What the hell!?! It is gullible sentiment like that that has allowed healthcare to be walked all over and taken down the wrong tracks by those outside of healthcare.
That being, the how and why nurses likely have fallen head over heels for this drama. It’s as if healthcare is deprived appreciation for the work we do and are wooed by any Tom, Dick or Harrieta [sic] that comes along, even when the persuader is reading a teleprompter. Then add a few big words, heavy on the theatrics, a touch of politics and a sprinkle of racism, done. Hook, line and sucker [sic].
Why not? Fred Lee said it was just like theater too. Find me the bucket, HURRY! I am puking!
What about the thank you from patients? Are they not enough? Do we really need the approval of celebrity-likes to certify our desire to help others? Sorry to disappoint but healthcare workers are NOT everyday heroes. We, like any other professional, show up to work to do our jobs. Heroes? Ah, NO. No healthcare worker’s job description reads, “During course of duty, will wear a cape and leap tall buildings on a single bound and out run locomotives.” NO! It does not! What it says instead is, “Will perform [healthcare workers] duties as listed by state board scope of practices, healthcare organization by-laws and policies and/or additional duties appointed by the organization’s medical board.”
Interestingly, I hear opponents of the death penalty say all the time, “We are not God to be taking anyone’s life.” Fine. In the same token, “We are not capable of saving anyone’s life, either.” Instead, I say, as healthcare workers, we show up to work to perform the duties as outlined in our job descriptions and credentials with the best intent. Because of that effort most will live and others will begin life. Yet, despite our best intent and our best performance some will die after we have exhausted every possibility available to us. Having said that, nowhere in our job description is there mention of super powers nor do healthcare workers pretend such, even those able to start the intravenous line on the first try.
As for validating our desire to help others that is what patients are best at, not celebrities. To that I will add, that despite healthcare pundits and administrators suggesting patients be greeted with a handshake I refuse. Why? I just do not find the value of being pretentious with patient, or anyone else for that matter, as I rarely extend my hand in my private life, so why fake it at work. However, if a patient or family extends their hand for a handshake I always meet them. Why? Because for me, that genuine gesture is all the respect and admiration I need and as if not enough it is the sincere and profound thank you that cements my decision to being a nurse and not that of some made up studio guy reading a teleprompter.
On a humanitarian/medical mission I recall a gentleman, in his 70’s, who showed up at the clinic we were conducting. When asked what was his medical complaint the gentleman said he had no medical issues. When asked how we could help him he declined he needed help. When asked why he was at the clinic he shared with us that he had walked for five hours, not uncommon. What was uncommon was that he had come to the clinic just to tell us, “Thank you all for providing this much needed service to my community. You all are very much appreciated here.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what a token of indescribable gratitude really is. No sealed envelope, no money and no tapping on the desk either.
That, ladies and gentlemen, I would have to say is the most sincere and profound statement of respect and admiration. Something not rehearsed and much less in front of a teleprompter.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we hear from patients when done in private without the big production.
There is no reason to have to wait 30 years just to hear someone reading a teleprompter behind a camera. Patients already give us the most sincere and profound statements of respect and admiration and for those not convinced polls state the same, year after year. Otherwise, why work the next shift?
My point, some are just waiting for superman not accepting that superman is a fictional character.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” What else needs to be said? Healthcare workers do NOT need anyone, much less some guy sitting in a studio reading a teleprompter, to justify our desire to help others and much less to convince us that the work we do to help others is appreciated. I already know that, even if superman never shows up to tell us, as Gandhi made no mention that our service would be appreciated.
As if not enough, Winston Churchill said, “You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.”
I get it that Mr. O’Donnell was overwhelmed with emotion because of the great care healthcare workers provide. I too was overwhelmed; yes me, when taken off Whistler Mountain after a snowboarding crash. And I too wanted to thank those healthcare workers for their talent and taking good care of me. However, days later, after my emotions settled, I realized the healthcare workers were doing their jobs, no more and no less, and although I very much appreciated them I did not find the need to continue to thank them. So I understand Mr. O’Donnell wanting to share his emotions and for that I do not fault him and despite him being the example here this is not about him.
Nor is my point whether or not a patient can afford to have surgeons standing by or that the patient has to wait until a surgeon is available. My point, instead, is that healthcare is so easily wooed by the words of others and in doing so we are blinded to the intent of those doing the wooing, even if it means them herding us down the wrong tracks.
After all that, I can only hope that when a nursing organization or school invites Mr. O’Donnell to speak to their audience that he finds restraint to decline as it would only send the wrong message. Healthcare is like no other industry, we do not take tips as he now knows, and healthcare does not need outsiders to lead us either.
One more thing, although I am sure Mr. O’Donnell must know, that just because the nurse did not, would not, take his “a lot of cash” the nurse’s honorable actions should not discourage him, or anyone for that matter, from donating their “a lot of cash” to a healthcare organization if that is what they wish.
Again, just my two sense [sic].


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