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"The Nurse with the Purse"

by Nurse Seuss

Samantha Taggart photo December 2, 2004 -- Tonight's episode of NBC's "ER," physician Joe Sachs' "A Shot in the Dark," did not feature much work by the show's nursing characters. But it did show lots of exciting, important nursing--performed by the physician characters. From educating patients to helping families with life-changing care decisions, from discharge planning to meeting critical patients in the ambulance bay--whenever the show's shortage of major nurse characters threatened to leave patient needs unmet, physician characters stepped in, taking the responsibility, credit and blame.

Of course, one obvious solution to this frequent "ER" problem--how to show the work of a modern ED with a major character roster of nine physicians and one nurse (Sam Taggart)--would be to simply have the show's minor nurse characters do the nursing. But as long as the show has its major characters providing virtually all important care, yet does not move its nurse-physician ratio closer to the 1:1 ratio found in real level one trauma centers, the problem will persist.

Cat in the Hat Comes Back coverSo, with apologies to Dr. Seuss and his Cold War classic "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back" (1958), we offer the verse below. It proposes an alternative solution the show may wish to consider, using patients featured in tonight's episode. This may seem like just a childhood fantasy. But it would actually make the show's account of who provides vital care in the ED far more realistic.


This was no time for fun.
This was no time for play.
This was no time for games.
There were lives to be saved.

No nurses, sick patients
The ED getting worse
And then who should come up
But the Nurse with the Purse!

"My name is Sam Taggart,"
Said the Nurse with the Purse.
"Tell me all your troubles
And please tell me in verse."

"Many patients," we said.
"We've lots of docs who care
But how can we save lives,
If our one nurse is you there?
Sure, these docs are the best,
But they lack nursing skill
And they lack the training
And some--even the will."

"Have no fear, I am here,"
Were the words of the Nurse.
"I have someone to help
Right here in my purse!
It is good that I have him
Here with me today.
He helps me a lot.
This is Little Nurse A."

But Little Nurse A said,
"It's too much for just me!
To get through this shift
We need Little Nurses B, C, and D!"

And with that Little Nurse A
Took a big wallet out.
"I have no money," he said,
"Can't keep that about.
What I have, and we need,
Is nurses to help us today.
And that's just what we'll do!
Little Nurses D, C, B, and A!"

And with a mighty roar,
Away the Nurses went,
Vowing that in this ED,
They would make a big dent.

One girl was in real pain;
Appendix had to go.
But her Mom hated County.
She said: "Operation? No!"
So the Nurses swooped in
For the girl and parents;
They explained and discussed
Till the choices made sense.

Another guy had wrestled
With his nephew: a truck.
Docs about to discharge
That would have been tough luck.
Nurses did their discharge job,
Assessed with eyes most keen.
And so they caught the signs:
A lacerated spleen.

And the toughest patient?
A cop shot by his buddy.
His son's choice: recovery unlikely
Or cutting, risky and bloody.
First the Nurses blew out,
Like a shot in the night.
They met that cop's cruiser outside
(The docs do that? Yeah, right).

Then the Nurses cared for
The cop's son, fiancee, ex-wife.
A family in conflict
A mess of civil strife.
The Nurses managed it all
As nurses do every day.
The son's will was done
No one could take it away.

And when the shift was over
All the docs said: "Thank you!
Medicine's cool; but for nursing
Only nurses will do."

"No problem at all,"
Said the Nurse with the Purse.
"This is what they should do
And I knew that they would.
With a little more help
All the work will be done.
We need one more nurse.
And I know just the one.

Behold Little Nurse Z!
Though she's too small to see.
This Z is the one nurse
Who will set us all free.
Z has something called VOOM.
Voom works on the media mind:
Physician-centric images
Hitting us all the time."

Then the went VOOM!
Angels, sex and bling bling
Handmaidens, battleaxes
Replaced by the real thing.

Don't ask me what Voom is--
I never will know.
But, girl! Let me tell you:
It reaps what we sow.

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