It is debatable that each profession suffers an injustice by the public eye with thanks to pop culture. All lawyers are heartless money leeches, all teachers are in it for the summer holidays and doctors give you a once over and charge steeply and proceed to continue with various “dreamy” love affairs.

This has occurred with particular emphasis over the years to the nursing profession. Nurses are monsters with long needles, raunchy halloween costumes and the rude receptionist tapping away at a mobile. Of historical note is that they are all female, which for a considerable time has not been true. 

We may agree that such stereotypes affect us all and in a negative way.

There is a hefty list of wrongful portrayals of the nurse that may be discussed but most recently I was half amused to discover a new one: the spoilt baby. 

This image was published by a trend website similar in content and serious journalism to such sites as Buzzfeed. 

Interestingly enough, however, the trend was initially started by doctors commenting on a Times of Malta article on MUMN lobbying for the return of “unhealthy” food to Mater Dei’s staff canteen. 

Most of the doctors’ posts were respectable, some even providing constructive criticism, yet others unfortunately wagged fingers at those greedy, hoggish nurses.

Doctors, nurses and radiographers all workers of Mater Dei Hospital, have access to the staff canteen. Thus, doctors, too, were complicit in eating of the forbidden foods when they were still provided. 

I see certain public comments that have turned the very daily craving of a chocolate during a hard day into something frowned upon and wrong

As I write this, though I try not to, I see certain public comments that have turned the very daily craving of a chocolate during a hard day into something frowned upon and wrong. 

Is this really worthy of such moral questioning as foie gras? 

In truth, we know what is good for us. Everyone has been taught the famous primary school food pyramid which translates to the concept of relative moderation of “unhealthy foods”. 

No one eats a meal of chocolate bars washed down with three bottles of cola. I dare say there is a greater trend of truly unhealthy diets with which to lose weight. 

Indeed, what is “healthy” food? 

All food consists of the same components: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, etc, be it a tuna sandwich or a croissant. Is not all poison, in truth, an overdose of something that is otherwise metabolised, in a proper amount? With the same train of thought, three tuna sandwiches are more harmful than one croissant. 

I believe there is greater pertinence in the threat of workers’ health when it comes to workplace stress and smoking at Mater Dei. A greater effort should be made in this area, after all a cola is less harmful than a cigarette.

Doctors and nurses may be seen to share a stereotype: the health champion. Nourished by water, carrots and fresh air they will make you well again. 

The unspoken truth is that they are human with all its associated virtues and vices. Therefore, I invite this incident to be an opportunity for all workers at Mater Dei to acknowledge their own and each other’s humanity and perhaps start breaking down the notorious hierarchy that exists between professionals. If we manage to move in that direction, even a little, I will go as far as to be thankful for that loving site’s crude-humoured article.

Andrea Caruana is a second year nursing student.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece.


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