Meet Megen Duffy: Not Nurse Ratched
Writer, editor, nurse, and a passionate voice of the nurse community- meet Megen Duffy! In this interview, she talks about how her experience of nursing seeps into her passion for writing and the nursing community she is fostering through it. She writes the blog known as Not Nurse Ratched.
What inspired you to start notratched.net?
I was a new nursing student and enjoyed reading blogs by other students and nurses. The sense of identification (the "me, too" factor) gave me a sense of community with my new chosen profession, and I wanted to become a part of that community.
How has notratched.net impacted your career?
It's mostly gotten me in trouble with my nursing career. I almost got kicked out of school because of it, and coworkers at various jobs have objected to what I've had to say. At one point someone even reported me to my state board, saying that I was violating patient privacy. Fortunately, I wasn't doing that, and the complaint was dismissed. The blog has helped my writing career as much as it's hurt my nursing career. Because of it, I served as a column editor for AJN for several years and also wrote weekly for Online LPN to RN for several years.
Using social media as a medium to share nursing experiences and insights has become more popular these days.
What do you aim to accomplish with notratched.net?
I don't know what direction to take with it. As I mentioned previously, my original thought was to be part of the online nursing community to provide others with the benefits I’ve received from it. Over the years, I've been burned enough that I am leery about writing much of anything. Blog readers are either really supportive or really mean, and a few have hunted me down personally and tried to get me fired because they didn't like what I had to say; that's a lot of unneeded trouble to invite. If you look over time at all the nursing blogs in the community, they tend to dissolve. It is a sad trend in a community that could be rich, supportive, and informative.
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What do you enjoy about being a nurse? And what challenges you?
I love the relationships I form with my patients. I constantly get to meet new people from all walks of life and have the privilege of helping them through various states of illness. Throughout my career, I have cared for people of all ages in myriad situations, and now I exclusively treat dying people. It is a privilege to be a trusted partner in that transition. I feel good knowing that what I do makes a real difference to people.
The career of nursing is challenging to work in, however. The current healthcare climate is unstable, and having to do more with less and with more paperwork complicates even the simplest of nursing interventions. Working with fewer staff causes my work to be hectic, driven, and stressful. I get to spend more time with my patients than nurses in most other fields, but even then there is always the feeling of “go, go, go.” Nurses are also middle managers by default; we have a huge amount of responsibility, but not enough power to carry it out the way we’d like – that adds more stress. It is a career that demands constant hard work without many breaks.
Who/what is the biggest influences in your career as a nurse? Why?
That answer changes as I go along from job to job, gaining experience on the way. I have a lot of nurses in mind who have strongly influenced me in the sense of how not to be, unfortunately. Right now, my current supervisor is a good role model, both personally and professionally. She is a good nurse clinically, has a lot of knowledge that she shares gracefully, and she walks the talk. It is helpful for me to work with a nurse who has been in the field for decades and still has integrity without being burned out.
What is the best piece of advice you have for young nurses starting out?
Be clear in your mind what kind of a nurse you want to be. The waters muddy quickly. I don’t mean what nursing specialty, either; I mean what kind of a nurse do you want to be internally? What are you willing to let slide in order to get through a shift quickly? What behavior are you willing to engage in or put up with in order to fit in in the short term? How dedicated will you be to maintaining your clinical edge, even when it isn’t required? How much of being a nurse are you willing to make your lifestyle, instead of just your job? These questions are better answered at the starting line, and the answers will help you choose jobs, specialties, and role models.