Am I too fat to be a Nurse?
– by Amelia Greenwood-blott RMN
Hotly debated across swathes of social media and taking up countless column inches this week was the fact that the NMC announced that it’s concerned that many nurses are too fat to do their job! Overweight nurses need to trim down if they want to send the right message to their patients about being healthy, says the NMC…
The new rules drafted have asked for all nurses to ‘maintain a level of personal fitness’ to be able to care for people. The NMC is growing concerned that many staff are too unfit to carry out simple tasks. The standards, which are up for consultation, are the latest in a long line of attempts to motivate the workforce to stay in shape.
Good Nurse/Fat Nurse?
For the past 12 weeks I’ve been following a well known diet plan. This is purely for my own health and wellbeing. I started my weight loss journey before the NMC decided they had an opinion on my size. I’ve been religiously counting my syns, celebrating my losses and bemoaning my “maintenance” weeks.
After giving up smoking (6 years ago on the 14th September) I swapped cigarettes for the vending machine, when I could catch a break during a busy 12 hour shift. The weight didn’t so much creep on, as jump on board like a passenger catching the last train leaving the station.
Am I a less caring nurse then my slender counterparts? Social media has been ablaze with arguments both for and against the NMCs plans. Whilst everyone agrees you of course need to be fit enough to do the tasks associated with being a nurse not everyone agrees as to whether we should be role models to our patients, the question is can we really preach a healthy lifestyle to the people we are caring for when our lunch was an energy drink and a bag of crisps?!
Cries of “How are we meant to be healthy when we don’t even have time to take a break?” echoed across the RCN nurse members Facebook Page .
“Pay us a better wage Theresa May and we’ll buy more vegetables” could be heard on a student nurse forum.
The Daily Mail comment section has as many anecdotes of fat nurses that have saved a patients life as it does of disgruntled patients being told to lose weight by a fat Nurse.
Would fat shaming me work?
Experts have long argued that health professionals should head the fight against the flab. Earlier this year weight loss guru Steve Miller made the controversial suggestion that overweight Nurses should wear ‘I’m fat’ badges! He believes fat shaming would motivate Nurses to lose the pounds and inspire patients and fellow staff. That being shameful in something is a motivation to do something. I think I can safely say where the robust Nurses of the UK would advise Steve to put his badges and I reckon it wouldn’t be on their uniforms.
The final crumb
I personally believe that good nurses come in all shapes and sizes. That the ability to empathise with a patients struggle to lose weight can be just as important as being an aspiration to that patient on their road to a healthier lifestyle.
So I will carry on counting my syns, sharing healthy recipes in the office and trying to exercise for 30 minutes every day and when I’m a size 10-12 I’ll let you know if I’m a better Nurse!