Coronavirus, Education — August 5, 2020 at 7:45 pm

A Teacher’s Advice to Nurses in a Pandemic


Dear Ms. McConnell,

Since you took the time to offer your advice, as a nurse, on how teachers should do their jobs, I thought I’d return the favor and share my thoughts on how nurses should do their jobs.

Except the truth is that I don’t have the faintest idea how to advise you how to be a nurse. Because I have never studied nursing, and have never worked as a nurse in any setting. Yes, I’ve administered first aid to my children, and even to some of my students in emergency situations over the years—but since I don’t really have any knowledge or background in nursing, I don’t really have any business telling you how to do your job.

Because that’s how reasonable adults should behave, isn’t it? I’m a teacher, so even though I’ve been in a hospital and seen what nurses do, it would be the height of arrogance for me to presume I knew the first thing about the complexities that nurses deal with on a daily basis. I just don’t. And I’d be a total jerk to think I could offer you, or any other nurse, any sort of professional advice about nursing based on my experience in a completely different profession. Wouldn’t I?

Just like when I buy a plane ticket I don’t think that qualifies me to jump into the co-pilot’s seat and tell the pilot how to fly the plane.

Or when I paid the handyman to put on our new storm door last week I didn’t think that somehow made it ok for me to instruct him how to measure and install the door.

Because part of being a functioning member of society, and just a decent person in general, involves respecting what other persons know and do, realizing your own limitations, and staying in your own lane.

So, Ms. McConnell, thank you for your work on the frontlines during this pandemic. I am truly in awe of what health care professionals are doing every day in the most horrific conditions imaginable, and appreciate everything that you and your colleagues across the country are doing for our friends and neighbors in their time of greatest need. We recognize your knowledge, expertise, and courage, and owe you a debt of gratitude.

And on behalf of my colleagues in our nation’s schools and universities, we’ll give your advice on how to do our jobs all of the consideration it deserves.