Nurses respond to comment that they ‘play cards’ during work

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Nurses across the country are pushing back this week, after a Washington state lawmaker said that nurses, “probably play cards” for much of their day.

Republican Senator Maureen Walsh called out nurses last week, implying they have a lot of down time on the job.

“Those nurses probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day,” she said on the Senate floor. Walsh was denouncing a bill that would allow nurses to get mandatory meal and rest breaks.

Walsh has since apologized, and agreed to shadow a registered nurse for a 12-hour shift. But area nurses tell NBC15 News this is a small point in a much bigger issue.

“Why don't you follow a nurse for the day? And then let us know how much cards we're actually playing,” says Meg Sullivan, a nursing student at the University of Wisconsin.

Sullivan says the comment came from a place of “ignorance,” and not knowing what nurses do.

“Sometimes we seem like we're not as good as a doctor, or something like that,” she says. “But the position is just so different than a doctor. We have our own jobs, and doctors have their own jobs.”

Nurses say this is a widespread problem.

“I think many times people tend to think that nurses are nice, that they help. And it's so much more than that. There's so much training and education that goes into it,” says Cassie Voge, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Voge says, in actuality, there is a long list of things nurses can do.

“Administration, research, teaching like I do, advance practice nursing of course, our nurse practitioner, our certified registered nurse assistant colleagues, nurse midwives it's just such a rich and robust profession to get into,” Voge says.

Area nurses tell NBC15 News that they’re hoping to make a positive out of the negative, and bring more awareness to an important career path.